Press Room

American Repertory Theater, 826 Boston, and the Boston Public Library Announce the Fourth Annual WORDplay Program July 18-August 19

by rlavery

The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University, 826 Boston, and Boston Public Library (BPL) announce the fourth annual WORDplay Program, a summer theater and writing intensive for Boston Public School (BPS) students entering the 8th and 9th grades in 2016. It takes place Monday through Thursday, 11:30 – 5:30pm, in the newly unveiled Kirstein Business Library and Innovation Center at the Boston Public Library’s Central Library in Copley Square, one of the centerpieces of the Library’s extensive renovations.

WORDplay 2016 will be the Kirstein Business Library and Innovation Center’s very first residency.

This summer, the A.R.T. and 826 Boston have expanded their partnership to include not only the Boston Public Library, but also the support of Boston After School and Beyond (BASB), a public-private partnership within BPS that leverages the public school system’s resources to enhance after school engagement for high-risk student populations and English Language Learners. Through A.R.T’s partnership with BASB, WORDplay has been designated an official Boston “Summer Learning Site” and, for the first time, will provide each of our young artists with a generous stipend upon completion of the program.

Twenty-five BPS students from Allston/Brighton, Dorchester, Roslindale, and Roxbury have been chosen by lottery to participate in a five-week program from July 18 through August 19. Over five weeks, students will conceptualize and write a script for a play inspired by the A.R.T.’s upcoming production of Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education, a new one-woman show about the “School-to-Prison Pipeline” crisis facing our education system, opening on August 20 at the A.R.T.’s Loeb Drama Center. Echoing Ms. Smith’s method of gathering source material, the students will conduct interviews with local government officials (including William Morales, Commissioner of Boston Centers for Youth and Families), school administrators, teachers, parents, education reform advocates, and their peers on the subject of education and mass incarceration. The campers will create their production under the guidance of writing tutors from 826 Boston and professional theater artists from the A.R.T. They will also have the opportunity to visit the A.R.T.’s Mainstage as part of the curriculum.

The camp will culminate in a free public performance by the students on Thursday, August 18th (time and location TBD). The resulting script will be published by 826 Boston and provided to each camper at a special book release party later in 2016.

826 Boston is a youth writing and publishing organization that empowers underserved students ages 6-18 to find their voices, tell their stories, and gain communication skills to succeed in school and life. Our services are structured around the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. With this understanding in mind, we provide after-school tutoring, field trips, creative writing workshops, in-school tutoring, help for English Language Learners, and in-depth publishing projects. Each of our free programs seeks to strengthen each student’s power to express ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in his or her individual voice.

Boston Public Library has a Central Library, twenty-four branches, map center, business library, and a website filled with digital content and services. Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library has pioneered public library service in America. It was the first large free municipal library in the United States, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room. Each year, the Boston Public Library hosts thousands of programs and serves millions of people. All of its programs and exhibitions are free and open to the public. At the Boston Public Library, books are just the beginning. To learn more, visit bpl.org.

The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University is a leading force in the American theater, producing groundbreaking work in Cambridge and beyond. The A.R.T. was founded in 1980 by Robert Brustein, who served as Artistic Director until 2002, when he was succeeded by Robert Woodruff. Diane Paulus began her tenure as Artistic Director in 2008. Under the leadership of Paulus and Executive Director Diane Quinn, the A.R.T. seeks to expand the boundaries of theater by programming events that immerse audiences in transformative theatrical experiences. Throughout its history, the A.R.T. has been honored with many distinguished awards, including the Tony Award for Best New Play for All the Way (2014); consecutive Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Musical for Pippin (2013) and The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (2012), both of which Paulus directed; a Pulitzer Prize; a Jujamcyn Prize for outstanding contribution to the development of creative talent; the Tony Award for Best Regional Theater; and numerous Elliot Norton and IRNE Awards. The A.R.T. collaborates with artists around the world to develop and create work in new ways. It is currently engaged in a number of multi-year projects, including a new collaboration with Harvard’s Center for the Environment that will result in the development of new work over several years. Under Paulus’s leadership, the A.R.T.’s club theater, OBERON, has been an incubator for local and emerging artists and has attracted national attention for its innovative programming and business models. As the professional theater on the campus of Harvard University, the A.R.T. catalyzes discourse, interdisciplinary collaboration, and creative exchange among a wide range of academic departments, institutions, students, and faculty members, acting as a conduit between its community of artists and the university. A.R.T. plays a central role in Harvard’s newly launched undergraduate Theater, Dance, and Media concentration, teaching courses in directing, dramatic literature, acting, voice, design, and dramaturgy. The A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training, run in partnership with the Moscow Art Theatre School and the Harvard Extension School, offers graduate training in acting, dramaturgy, and voice. Dedicated to making great theater accessible, the A.R.T. actively engages more than 5,000 community members and local students annually in project-based partnerships, workshops, conversations with artists, and other enrichment activities both at the theater and across the Greater Boston area. Through all of these initiatives, the A.R.T. is dedicated to producing world-class performances in which the audience is central to the theatrical experience.

For further information, visit americanrepertorytheater.org.