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L.A. Theatre Works Expands, Extends 'Setting The Stage' Distance Learning Initiative

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L.A. Theatre Works begins the new school year by extending its learning initiative, Setting the Stage for Learning.

L.A. Theatre Works Expands, Extends 'Setting The Stage' Distance Learning Initiative

L.A. Theatre Works begins the new school year by expanding and extending its acclaimed learning initiative, Setting the Stage for Learning.

LATW has announced completion of an extensive curriculum guide as a companion to Spill, Leigh Fondakowski's extraordinary docudrama that brings the 2010 Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion to life through personal stories of those affected. Featuring a cast headlined by Jane Kaczmarek and James Morrison, voices students will recognize from television shows including Malcolm in the Middle and 24, this powerful work goes beyond the headlines to give voice to the people living along Louisiana's Gulf Coast, capturing their varied viewpoints and their resilience in the face of natural destruction and man-made tragedy.

The Setting the Stage initiative - 25 audio recordings of significant stage plays performed by well-known, professional actors available at no charge to educators worldwide - has been extended through Dec. 31, 2020.

Setting the Stage for Learning provides valuable resources for teachers, enhancing both distance and classroom learning. By harnessing the power of professional theater, students deepen their understanding of complex literature and subject content through an engaging and meaningful learning experience. An introductory guide suggests topics for engaging conversations and ideas for student-created content. Educators can select and preview a play, then select an approach, whether having students listen to an entire play with follow-up discussions and/or assignments, or listening in segments, pausing for comprehension checks, answering questions and transitioning through the arc of the plot.

"L.A. Theatre Works is assisting students during this pandemic by offering access to many of the greatest theater classics read and performed by some of the most talented actors and actresses to have graced the stage," stated LAUSD Arts Education Branch director Dr. Steven J. McCarthy. "This gift plus the introductory guide have once again proven the importance of this remarkable theater partner. We are very proud of our long affiliation and value it immensely."

A Teach For America Los Angeles teacher training webinar exploring ways to approach distance learning during the pandemic highlighted theater as an innovative way to offer a unique interdisciplinary experience to engage and reinvest students. Teach for America partners with urban and rural communities in more than 50 regions across the country to expand educational opportunity for children.

"Our students are driven by curiosity, emotion and engagement," notes TFA/LA interim managing director of collective leadership and engagement Bianca Nepales. "An explosive recording like Spill really works to drive their imagination, to capture their attention and connect with those emotions on a visceral level. The additional, comprehensive study guide available for this title helps break the recording down into seven or eight different learning experiences that can be used to teach all subjects, including English, history, math and science."

A non-profit media arts organization and the world's leading producer of audio theater, L.A. Theatre Works' mission is to present, preserve and disseminate classic and contemporary plays featuring critically acclaimed actors. With LATW, teachers bring the excitement of a stage play into their students' immediate environment and allow them to share their experiences of this rich content with peers, even when separated by distance learning. Discussions about culture, context, the history and arc of the story, and personal connections to characters overcoming obstacles will add to students' enjoyment as stories come to life through talented casts, foley artists (creating sound effects) and well-crafted scripts.

For more information about Setting the Stage for Learning, including how to sign up and how to access the new Spill study guide, go to latw.org/setting-stage-learning. Scroll down to see the complete list of available titles.


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