Project SUCCESS believes in the power of theater to illuminate the world. We use professional theater as a tool to inspire students, help them look at the real-life issues they face, demonstrate they are members of a larger community and act as a springboard for discussion in the classroom workshops and at home.
Before each school year begins, Project SUCCESS coordinates every element of the experience, including constructing seasons for each school, obtaining tickets at no cost through our generous theater partners, mailing invitations to each student’s household at least 8 and up to 12 times annually, taking ticket reservations, and going the extra mile by offering transportation and child-care, welcoming families in the lobby before each performance, coordinating post-play discussions and back-stage tours, and contacting families in their own languages.
These events have proved to be wonderful bonding experiences for young people and their family members as well as powerful audience-building tools for the theater partners. Through Project SUCCESS, students and their families attend diverse theater performances together, enriching their shared family experiences and increasing opportunities for interactions, which can lead to more positive family relationships and greater home support for youth— shown to have a positive impact on student achievement.
Our recent surveys have revealed students thinking some interesting things about Project SUCCESS and Theater:
- Nearly 98% of high school students and 94% of middle school students found going to see plays with Project SUCCESS to be "valuable"!
- Over 43% of high school students and 57% of middle school students had attended a play with Project SUCCESS!
- Nearly 60% of them reported seeing two or more plays during the year!
- Two thirds of high school students said they attended the play with their parents or guardians, with nearly half of middle school students reporting the same!
- More than 92% of students who attended a play said they would consider attending another play, given the chance!
We also use hands-on theater experiences in the schools to help students build confidence and skills and build peer and community support. Project SUCCESS offers students opportunities to participate in an annual artistic enrichment experience, most often a theatrical performance. Project SUCCESS coordinates the entire performance with the support of the participating school. All youth who want to participate are given a role in front of, or behind the scenes. Students work in front of and behind the scenes, directly with professional directors and musicians and quality sound, sets and lighting. Often times, our staff, students, and volunteers assist with many aspects of the production (scripts, costume, set construction, technical support, etc.). Recent musical theater productions have included Annie, Seussical, The Wiz, and Dear Edwina.
In an effort to engage a variety of talents, the artistic enrichment experiences may also take the shape of spoken word performances, modest student-written plays, working with aerial artists (such as Xelias Aerial Arts), or artist residencies. Each school’s experience is customized to the needs of the students and the school, and is curated and coordinated by our own Resident Artist, Jeffry Lusiak. Additional examples include:
- Mad World: Voices from Middle School, a student-written "jukebox" musical, which was performed at conferences in the Twin Cities and New York City
- The Stories Project, a collaboration with Mu Performing Arts, is a four-week long in class program for English Language Learner students, utilized theater as means to empower them to learn to articulate, write, rehearse, and perform their individual migration stories.
Putting on a very professional and successful theater performance contributes to young peoples' skills and self-esteem. Teachers report students raising their grade point averages and becoming more motivated after being part of a Project SUCCESS musical.