Since 1996, Education at Roundabout has been developing and implementing programs designed to introduce theatre to students, young audiences, and teachers in New York City. Jennifer DiBella, Roundabout's Director of Education, says the work of the nonprofit in investing and working in partnership with the community—and the potential for such programs to employ "theatre as a catalyst for social equity"—has only become more integral to Roundabout's core mission throughout the years.
"Now, more than ever, our world needs people who can critically engage with complex issues and have real empathy for others," DiBella tells Playbill. "We have never underestimated how vital it is to experience the intimacy and power of live storytelling. We are so fortunate to share our love of theatre with students, educators, early career professionals, and our community at large."
Education at Roundabout's programs work in partnership with over 20,000 people each year, who, for DiBella, are the theatre industry's "future colleagues, teachers, neighbors, and audience members."
"These vibrant individuals are at the heart of everything we do," she continues. "In this politically divisive time in our nation, it is so exciting to see people come together to experience the magic of live theatre."
"When I get to witness a completely student-written, designed, and produced play that challenges and surprises me, or see a teacher joyfully using their artistry to engage with their students in new ways, or one of our amazing Workforce Fellows proudly and confidently working on a Roundabout show—I can’t help but burst with pride," says DiBella. "That’s what drives me."
Below are three ways the theatrical institution is helping to nurture the next generation of theatremakers.
The Theatrical Workforce Development Program
Last December, Playbill reported that the first cohort of fellows to take part in Roundabout Education’s Theatrical Workforce Development Program (TWDP) had all found technical jobs within the professional theatre industry. TWDP’s mission is to train a new generation of stagehands, riggers, electricians, sound engineers, carpenters, hairstylists, makeup artists, and wardrobe workers and to break down the barriers that prevent young adults from joining the theatre industry. The program provides a group of up to 20 high school graduate fellows each year with a living wage, relevant skills and industry knowledge, work experience, access to theatre venues, and resources and support services. The initiative includes three years of training, job placement, and one-on-one mentorship with top industry professionals.
If you are a young adult interested in applying to TWDP, or if you are an organization that would like to become an employment partner, visit RoundaboutTheatre.org/TWDP.
Roundabout Youth Ensemble
Roundabout Youth Ensemble (RYE) is a student-led theatre company that takes place after school and places students in one of three theatrical tracks: performance, tech/design, and playwriting. Beginning in the fall, students meet regularly for workshops and hands-on projects, to attend Roundabout shows as a cohort, and to meet with professional theatre artists.
At the culmination of the school year, the ensemble produces three staged readings in Roundabout’s Black Box Theatre ahead of a final summer production open to the public. Auditions to be a part of RYE in the 2018–2019 school year begin October 1. Click here to sign up and for more information.
Through various customized partnerships, Roundabout works with schools in implementing curriculum that uses theatre as a means of learning. Among the programs offered are Script Analysis, in which students study theatrical texts to deepen their understanding of storytelling and improve literacy and comprehension; Theatrical Mentoring, which engages students and teaching artists in all areas of theatre production to replicate a professional theatre company; and Curriculum Connections, which makes connections between the theatre and core subject areas (for example an algebra class may attend a professional production and explore how mathematics is used to support the theatrical performance).
Each spring, Education at Roundabout’s annual Student Theatre Arts Festival showcases student work in all theatrical disciplines from displaying design work to inviting students to perform on Roundabout’s Broadway stage.
For more information on the ways in which Education at Roundabout supports students, teachers, schools, and young audiences, visit Roundabouttheatre.org/Teach-Learn.