Louisville's StageOne Family Theatre Launches Virtual Performances for School Districts Nationwide

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Theatre for Everywhere supports theatre professionals impacted by pandemic and brings original live virtual productions to school-aged audiences across the country

“These unique times require unique strategies for bringing the arts to our students. StageOne is making an extraordinary effort to ensure kids can continue to experience great theatre in the safety of their own homes.” Dr. Marty Pollio, Superintendent of JCPS

To ensure regional elementary-school students would continue to benefit from live theatre performances even during the Covid-19 pandemic, Louisville-based StageOne Family Theatre knew they’d need a fresh approach. In response they launched Theatre for Everywhere, an engaging virtual program that’s flexibly designed to fit both distance learning and in-person curriculums.

By rising to the unique challenges of the current school year, the nearly 75-year-old theatre company is providing virtual performances for 149 schools across 4 regional districts and is now taking the program nationwide.

The new program includes productions of three original virtual plays created to address timely and critical social-emotional learning needs for kids, including recognizing and celebrating racial differences, identifying big emotions, and navigating peer conflict.

StageOne’s Theatre for Everywhere initiative emphasizes the needs of students and teachers engaged in non-traditional instruction. The program provides pre- and post-show curriculum guides for teachers, including additional guidance for students with specific neurodiversity needs. In addition, StageOne and its participating artists have maintained a thorough commitment to telling compelling, authentic stories that audiences expect from a live, in-person performance.

Productions were designed specifically for distance, hybrid, or home-based educational environments, but they also provide a model for how to make live (virtual) theatre more accessible to students, no matter what their proximity is to a local theatre.

Andrew D. Harris, the company’s Producing Artistic Director, explains, “Partnering with our school districts to ensure fair and equitable access to performances that serve not only as entertainment but as a tool for understanding the human condition is a vital part of who StageOne is and why we exist. This authentic collaboration is a model for how theatres can be integrally related to our communities, fostering empathy and building connection from the power of our shared experiences.”

At this time, all school districts in the Kentuckiana region where StageOne Family Theatre is located have implemented the Theatre for Everywhere curriculum, enabling the program to reach more than 64,000 area students. This includes Jefferson County Public Schools, the largest district in the state with 91 elementary schools and over 43,000 students.

As the plays are delivered, StageOne has been intentional about partnering with education specialists from the district to ensure the program and curriculum addresses the specific needs of students and teachers. Dr. Marty Pollio, superintendent of JCPS, says of the program: “These unique times require unique strategies for bringing the arts to our students. StageOne is making an extraordinary effort to ensure kids can continue to experience great theatre in the safety of their own homes. Our students and families are grateful.”

Another local administrator, Leisa Schulz, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Louisville, shares: “StageOne provides transformational experiences for our students by bringing theatre to them wherever they are—in-person, in school classrooms, or learning remotely at home. These high-quality productions are correlated to our curriculum and encourage students to connect with current issues by learning, building skills and values, strengthening relationships, and optimizing their well-being. Now more than ever it’s important to provide our students with opportunities to expand their experiences and nurture their souls.”

Delivery of productions to remote audiences across the country will be managed securely through the StageOne website for each participating school or group. Performances are currently available to schools nationwide and will open to the public on February 14, 2021. Find more information at stageone.org/theatre-for-everywhere.

StageOne Family Theatre has served the Louisville community since 1946, when it was first known as the Louisville Children’s Theatre. StageOne’s commitment to Louisville youth and their future is the foundation for its continuing mission to create informed audiences and lifelong patrons of the performing arts.

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For more information on Theatre for Everywhere or any of StageOne’s other innovative initiatives, contact StageOne at stageone@stageone.org.

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Kate Gipson
@StageOneFamily
since: 01/2010
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