Students earn prizes in national play contest

Margaretville — The Open Eye Theater is proud of two local students, Melissa Day and Cedric Taylor, who were invited to write a play on the subject of bullying for submission to a national program,

Theater In Our Schools’ USA Play Daze. Their plays were posted first and third, respectively, on the website of the American Alliance for Theater and Education (AATE) and have been widely circulated on social media Facebook and Twitter. Melissa and Cedric were participants in The Open Eye’s Youth Theater Workshop, “Read, Write, Play” in summer 2012.

Melissa, 16, and a junior at Margaretville Central School, has appeared in many plays in the past few years and made her directorial debut this past summer in Summer Shortcuts II. She has appeared in the “Cricket on the Hearth” (her first play with The Open Eye), Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” Summer Shortcuts I and II and numerous other productions and readings.

Experienced
Cedric, 16, and a homeschooler, has been involved with The Open Eye Theater for many years. He has played the violin for “A Midsummer Nights Dinner” and is a member of the Delaware Youth String Ensemble. He played the violin in last season’s “Walking Toward America” and the previous year in “Pepacton,” in which he also performed in the acting ensemble. He is currently in rehearsal for “Irving Berlin’s America,” in the role of Jack.

The Open Eye Theater works in educational partnership with both Margaretville Central School and Andes Central School where teaching artists and classroom teachers collaborate on curriculum-based projects.

Drama program threat
AATE states that school drama programs across the country are in danger. The Department of Education reports a 16 percent drop in public elementary school instruction for drama/theatre over the past 10 years, and a three percent drop in secondary schools. In our current economy, drama programs are at greater risk, as state and local legislators look to cut education budgets to make up for funding shortfalls.

Studies have shown that schools with arts-integrated programs, even in low-income areas, report higher academic achievement. Students who participate in drama experience improved reading comprehension, maintain better attendance records, and are more engaged in school than their non-arts counterparts. Despite this, theatre and drama programs are being cut from school curricula.

March has been designated by AATE as Theatre In Our Schools month, the time of year to advocate and celebrate the benefits of theatre education and raise awareness of theatre education’s power to improve academic achievement, raise SAT scores, and stimulate innovation and creativity among young people.

For more information on the benefits of school theatre programs, regional conferences, or Theatre In Our Schools month, visit www.aate.com.