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The 52nd Street Project Kid Theater Kit

52nd Street Project, Complete Kit
ISBN-13: 978-0-8222-1440-3

The Project’s “How To” manual, written by founder/artistic director Willie Reale, consists of a series of recipes for its programs in a simple, no-nonsense, step-by-step fashion. Along with that are comprehensive descriptions of all the Project’s writing and acting programs for children as well as detailed advice on working with children in theatrical contexts. Incorporated in the manual is Daniel Judah Sklar’s PLAYMAKING LESSON PLANS which cover basic and second-level playwriting courses for children and adults. A third component of the manual is plans and schematics of scenic designer Kevin Joseph Roach’s “Instant Set” upon which most of the Project’s productions are staged.

This companion “How To” manual to 52 Pick-Up, written by Project “Teen Dean” Chris Ceraso with commentary by Associate Artistic Director Michael Bernard, provides a carefully structured week-by-week program of acting classes, rehearsals and performances. The plan, developed in association with Willie Reale, uses basic professional-level acting technique and ensemble skills to form a company of teenagers. Included are examples of teen-authored plays based on Shakespeare sonnets as well as ninety-minute adaptations of Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest.

THE BUTLER DID IT! is a collection of twenty short plays with music written for the One-On-One program, conceived as a means to create an opportunity for a child to star in his or her own play. Some of the authors included in this volume are Craig Lucas, Charles Dumas, Katharine Long, Willie Reale, Peter MacNicol, Jacquelyn Reingold and Lewis Black. The composer is Henry Krieger. Over a week in the summer, two troupes of children and professional playwrights retreat to a country setting where the playwright is asked to mine the particular charms of his or her child partner and imbue a fictional character with those traits. Somewhere in these twenty plays there is certain to be a role to suit nearly any child’s personality and level of skill. The twenty plays with songs were written for an adult and a child with each featuring a cameo role for an adult “Butler.”

THE BEDTIME ZONE is a collection of twenty more short plays from the One-On-One program. Some of the authors included in this volume are Cindy Lou Johnson, Willie Reale, Donald Margulies, Richard Dresser, Nancy Giles and James McDaniel. These plays, all dealing with the supernatural, are two-character plays for children to perform with adults, and do not contain music.

PLAYS FOR PAIRS is a collection of five one-act plays written to challenge the more experienced young actors in the Project’s program. The authors in this volume include Donald Margulies, Cindy Lou Johnson, Thomas Babe, Willie Reale and Jose Rivera. These plays were written for the Two-On-Two program and offer two children leading roles in comedies. The recommended age level for these plays is 10 to 14 years-old.

THE SPRING THING is a collection of six two-character plays by student writers to be performed by experienced actors. The writers are all graduates of the Playmaking program where they took an eight-week class in which youngsters learn the basic tenets of how to write a play, and how to tap into their imaginations and emotional lives in order to write a play.

Nationally recognized as an innovative force in theater for young people, The 52nd Street Project has created both acting and playwriting programs for children. The acting programs are:

  • The ONE-ON-ONES—each youngster is paired with an adult professional playwright who writes a one-act play for the youngster and playwright to perform together;
  • The TWO-ON-TWOS—an adult playwright creates a play for two experienced Project youngsters to perform together.

The PLAYMAKING PROGRAM is a series of playwriting classes for the students. The curriculum, devised by writer/educator Daniel Judah Sklar, offers the youngsters a medium through which they can express a personal vision. The Playmaking Program is divided into three steps:

  • Playmaking, the initial 8-week session begins with classes in basic playwriting and ends with the youngster writing a play for 2 actors. These plays are subsequently performed.
  • Replay, the sequel 8-week course where the Playmaking graduates are challenged to write their second and third plays while learning plot and character development; and
  • Playback, where the Project’s most experienced writing and acting students are matched with a playwright, and each write a play to perform together.

The impulse to recreate the Project stemmed from inquiries from theaters, community organizations and individuals throughout the country wishing to start a Project of their own. The Project staff has developed a manual complete with lesson plans and supporting materials (described below) to help you start your own Project.