The Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival is expanding its educational outreach program to local elementary schools with reprised assembly performances of its classic adaptation “Scrooge’s Long Night” and the addition of new after-school enrichment classes for grades K-2 and 3-6.
Studies have shown that arts education — and theater education, in particular — plays a vital role in fostering empathy in young students and helping them develop essential skills such as active listening, effective communication and collaboration, said a news release from the Shakespeare Festival. Building those skills is more important than ever after the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the release said.
“With more and more budget cuts to arts education, we know it’s up to our community of parents and artists to come together and create programming like this to support our youth,” SCSF Arts-In-School Coordinator Liz Cotone said in the release.
In the 2023-24 school year, the nonprofit SCSF is offering two opportunities for K-6 schools to expand their programming:
• In-School Holiday-Themed Character Assembly: Adapted from Charles Dickens’ classic tale, “Scrooge’s Long Night” is an original adaptation that focuses on the universality of Scrooge’s journey to rekindle the goodness in his heart. The production integrates the Six Pillars of Character into the story, as well as connections to the California Content Standards & Framework for English, Social Science & The Performing Arts. While it is holiday-themed, it’s not a Christmas show, but rather an examination of the importance of good citizenship. This 40-minute presentation fits into any school schedule and can be performed in most any multi-purpose room. Four actors create more than 12 characters with theatrical magic (costume changes, puppetry, music and special effects) and guide participation from young audience members.
“This really is a universal story,” David Stears, the executive director of the theater company, said in the release. “It is a wonderful tale of a person’s transformation from selfishness and indifference into someone filled with joy and charity.”
• After-School Classes: For the past year, SCSF Education Director Calliope Weisman has worked with the city of Santa Clarita to provide theater camps and after-school programming for ages 8-15, and the classes will now be offered for lower grade levels at school facilities to broaden accessibility.
Calliope said in the release, “It’s our goal to build these students’ emotional intelligence through these classical characters. The personal and collective growth they achieve in our short programs inspire the self-confidence they will carry with them throughout their lives.”
In SCSF’s after-school class, students learn theater games, acting, improv, movement, and public speaking while encouraging confidence and building self-esteem. Each eight-week class session will culminate with a brief showcase for parents to attend during the final class.
For more information about programming for a school or sponsoring a performance at a school, contact SCSF at [email protected], or call 661-240-9004.