Pride Players Presents PROJECT 15, Now thru 4/6

Pride Players Presents PROJECT 15, Now thru 4/6

In its fifteenth year, Pride Players continues to challenge teens to use improvisational acting to explore the challenges and successes of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and straight-allied teens in Omaha. The 17 teens in the show have come together to create and perform a collection of songs, poetry, monologues, and skits that explore a wide variety of issues, ranging from Midwestern stereotypes to gay marriage laws. The resulting show will be presented today, April 3 - 6 at The Rose Theater.

In the process of developing the production, the teens learned important lessons of self-acceptance, equity, compassion and more. Sabrina Litton, a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School explains that the show helped her learn more about herself and the world around her. "While working on this show, I learned about my gender identity, androgyny, and how much it really means to me," she said.

For others in the cast, the process helped them develop on both a creative and personal level. "My favorite part of this show was getting to know fantastic people,creating, singing, and growing as a person," said Carena Emery, a ninth-grade student at Millard North High School.

This year, Pride Players created their material based on discussion about topics including homophobic slang, the Sochi Olympics, adoption for LGBTQ couples, the Salvation Army, scouting, transgender issues, and queer heritage.

Led by Rose teaching artists, Kelsey Celek and Jackie Kappes, and Brian Guehring, Education Director/Playwright-in-Residence and co-founder of Pride Players, the teens begin the process of creating the show by exploring their concerns and experiences through improvisational exercises. Close friendships are developed and a safe place to create leads to extraordinary insight into today's teens.

"While working on this show, I learned about trans issues and how hard it is being openly gay in places like Russia," said Deirdre Burgdorf, a junior at North High School. "My favorite part of this process what meeting all the amazing people and being able to have such an amazing judge-free outlet for all my craziness."

Pride Players 15 will be presented Thursday, April 3 at 7 pm, Saturday, April 5 at 7 pm and Sunday, April 6 at 4:30 pm in the Hitchcock Auditorium at The Rose Theater. Tickets are $6 at The Rose box office, (402) 345-4849, or at the door the day of the show.

A special benefit performance will also be held on Sunday, April 6 at 7 pm, with proceeds going toward PFLAG, GLSEN and Proud Horizons. Tickets for the benefit are $20 for adults, $10 for limited income and $5 for students.

Pride Players has been honored regionally and nationally. In 2014, Pride Players collaborated with Project Pride in Kansas City to create new material and performed as the pre-show to Project Pride's inaugural performance in March. The group also provided the keynote performance at the national conference for the 2012 American Alliance for Theatre and Education and won best Youth Production at the Omaha Arts and Entertainment Awards. The group has also served as Grand Marshals for the 2011 Heartland Pride Parade and was honored by the National Education Association for student activism. Pride Players has also collaborated with and assisted other queer youth theaters in Los Angeles (CA), Lexington (KY), San Bernadino (CA), Pittsburgh (PA), and Boston (MA).

Pride Players annually tours to several local churches, organizations, and schools in addition to the four performances at The Rose Theater. The Sunday performance is a benefit for community partners PFLAG-Omaha, GLSEN-Omaha, and Proud Horizons.

The Rose Theater is one of the largest and most accomplished children's theaters in the nation, with a reputation for enriching the lives of children and families through top-quality professional productions and arts education. The Rose is committed to making the arts accessible to all children, providing opportunities for thousands of children throughout the community to attend shows and participate in classes each year.

The Rose's innovative Teens 'N' Theater (TNT) program provides teenagers a unique opportunity to grow, develop and explore the theatrical world. Mentored by professional teaching artists from The Rose Theater, the various TNT troupes produce a season of six productions that are fully staged by the teen participants. They act, direct, playwright, design costumes and lighting, and much more. The result is a stunning season of exceptionally fresh, thought-provoking, and genuine work that is presented live in the Hitchcock Theater. Participation is free of charge and open to all interested students.

For additional information on The Rose Theater, its productions and its many educational programs, visit www.rosetheater.org.

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