Long Wharf Theatre to Host Moments and Minutes Festival, 4/12

Young performers bring to the stage their own special brand of energy and vitality, not to mention a unique and important worldview. For one night in April, the kids will rule Long Wharf Theatre's Mainstage.

Long Wharf's 2nd annual Moments & Minutes Festival will take place on the Claire Tow Stage in the C. Newton Schenck III Theatre on April 12 at 7 pm. The evening will showcase visual art, spoken word poetry, and monologues devised by students from all over the area, highlighting both their individual and collective experiences. The event is free and open to the public.

Twenty-three students from all over the Greater New Haven area, from 7th through 12th grades will perform their own creations. Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School, Center for Global Studies, Davis Street School, Hamden High School, Hillhouse High School, Metropolitan Business Academy, and Wilbur Cross High School are the schools represented. "I can think of nothing of greater value or import than the encouragement and cultivation of student engagement through artistic self-expression. Moments and Minutes is a celebration of the youth of our community as performers and artists," said Director of Education Beth Milles.

In addition to these performances, a dozen students from across the region will display their visual art, also inspired by themes of identity.

The preparation for the Moments and Minutes Festival gave area teachers a unique opportunity to work with Long Wharf Theatre's teaching artists. Throughout the season, teaching artists came into classrooms across the region to teach workshops on writing, developing, and performing original monologues and spoken word pieces.

Resident Teaching Artist Eliza Orleans said the program attracts a wide array of students, from novices trying to express themselves to more seasoned performers. "I tell students that they already have everything inside them that they already need to be successful. I encourage them to think of their pieces are conversations and not performances. They are inviting us as the audience into this experience with them," she said.

The students tackled may different issues in their writing, including those of race and identity. For many kids, there is a struggle between how people see them and how they see themselves. "I was struck by the wisdom of their words. It's a really eclectic group of stories," Orleans said.

The theatre's hope is that these students are able to claim a little piece of themselves by sharing it with others. "The students wanted to get personal. In a lot of schools the reduction of arts funding means that there can be a lack of creative space. This gives many of those students a creative outlet," Orleans said.

For more information about Long Wharf Theatre and its educational offerings, visit longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282.

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