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Giving Voice

For over 25 years, MTC Education has worked with youth confronting the challenges of poverty, trauma, and involvement in the justice system. We believe these young people deserve equitable access to constructive educational opportunities that can lead toward fulfillment, success, and productive citizenship.  MTC Education’s Stargate Theatre and Write on the Edge (WrOTE) programs provide such opportunities, bringing the collaborative and creative nature of theatre to marginalized youth, empowering and encouraging them to re-imagine their lives and give voice to their thoughts, hopes, and dreams.

QUICK LINKS:
ABOUT STARGATE  |  ABOUT WrOTE  |  ADDITIONAL PROGRAMS  |  DONATE


What happens when you give 18 court-involved youth 7 weeks to create their own off-Broadway show?

Watch Stargate Theatre: A Defining Act (a feature-length documentary from WLIW) to find out:

If you would like to support MTC Education, including Stargate Theatre and our work in schools, click here to make a donation.

About Stargate Theatre

Stargate Theatre provides court-involved youth the paid opportunity to engage in a theatre-making experience that develops workforce readiness and life skills such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. With the guidance of professional theatre artists and educators, the ensemble composes, rehearses and performs a theatrical piece reflecting their collective identity and their aspirations, ideas and fears about themselves and the world.

QUICK LINKS:
JOIN STARGATE  |  STARGATE VIDEOS  |  STAFF

Click any section to read more…

Recognizing the numerous challenges that court-involved youth face within their communities, the Stargate Theatre offers its members practical and useful job readiness skills, as well as financial incentives, in a joyful, engaging setting. Developing trust in oneself and others, collaborating on a creative endeavor, learning to give and accept constructive feedback – these are more than the hallmarks of a successful theatrical process; they are positive life skills.

Among Stargate’s goals is to develop young people’s interpersonal skills. Company members learn to cooperate and contribute their ideas and insights to a common goal.  They learn to think critically, to assess and evaluate, to revise, and to persevere – even through the periods of frustration and uncertainty that are a part of any creative process.

The development of imagination – the ability to envision a world in which things might be otherwise – is perhaps the most important, truly liberating benefit of Stargate. Through the collaborative, supportive environment its members help to create and the demands inherent in the theatrical production process, Stargate Theatre Project prepares young people to return to their schools and communities with a new determination to succeed and the tools to help achieve their goals.

The Stargate Theatre is a six to seven week theatre-making endeavor.  During the summer, company members meet for three hour sessions four times a week, expanding to five times a week while in the production rehearsal phase.  The project is led by two co-artistic directors, one of whom guides the writing process, the other responsible for staging and production. The artistic directors are supported by a choreographer, company manager, project manager, and project assistant.

The first half of the project is devoted chiefly to writing the material that will become the theatrical piece the group later rehearses and performs. Writing prompts are related to the ideas, objects, people, and places that company members encounter in their daily lives.  The resulting poems and compositions are compiled into a collage play; roles are distributed according to the strengths of each individual company member.

The second half of the project focuses on the rehearsal and production of the collage play. Modeled after the professional rehearsal process, company members are responsible for memorizing their lines, accepting and motivating blocking, practicing choreography, and responding positively to critique and feedback. The rehearsal process concludes with the final performances in an off-Broadway venue for family, friends, and the general public.

Throughout the entire project, company members engage in collaborative ensemble-building activities as well as technique improvement exercises intended to enhance verbal communication skills needed for both the stage and non-theatrical employment opportunities.

Summer 2013

The first cycle takes place over the course of six weeks during the months of July and August. Accepting referrals from New York City social service agencies such as Friends of Island Academy and the Center for Community Alternatives, twelve young men comprise the company. Company members participate in a workshop with performing artist Lemon Andersen. The project culminates on August 24 with two performances of Behind My Eyes at New York City Center Stage II. Stargate 2013 was funded by the Leon F. Lowenstein Foundation.

Summer 2014

The second Stargate cohort participates in writing workshops and rehearsal for six weeks. The company of sixteen young men enjoys special sessions with performing artists such as Flaco Navaja and Ryan Hope Travis. On July 10, the group attends a performance of MTC’s production of Benjamin Scheuer’s The Lion.  The project culminates on August 16 with two performances of Weathering the Storm at New York City Center Stage II. In the week following the final performance, company members take part in a week-long series of professional development workshops geared toward increasing future employment prospects.

Stargate 2014 was funded by the Ford Foundation’s Good Neighbor Committee.  The Leon F. Lowenstein Foundation provided funds for planning and dissemination.

Summer 2015

Eighteen young men from Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens join this summer’s company.  Stargate’s recruitment reach expands to include referrals from eleven non-profit and city agencies, including The Fortune Society, Esperanza New York, Legal-Aid Society and the New York City Department of Probation.  The company attends performances of MTC’s production of Melissa Ross’ new play, Of Good Stock, and the Broadway production of Hamilton. Following the performance of Of Good Stock, the young men have an extended conversation with Melissa Ross and cast members, including Alicia Silverstone. The seven-week writing and rehearsal process concludes on August 22 with two performances of Deeper Than Skin at New York City Center Stage II.

Stargate 2015 was funded by Sharon R. Sullivan and Jeffrey B. Kindler, The Monteforte Foundation, Amy and David Abrams, The Bendit Family Foundation, and Noah and Susanna Schankler.

Summer 2016

In recognition of a generous multi-year gift from Sharon R. Sullivan and Jeffrey B. Kindler, Stargate Theatre’s summer cohort is now known as the Sharon Sullivan Company.  Fifteen young men engage in an intensive artistic process aimed at telling their personal stories integrated with a reimagined version of the classical myth of Orpheus and Eurydice (transformed in our retelling into Orpheus’s best friend, Dice).  Company members attend performances of two Broadway shows: The Color Purple by Marsha Norman, Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray, and Simon Stephens’ The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, through which they experience professional actors using skills and techniques they themselves would employ in their own production. The creative process culminates on August 20 with two performances of Crash. Burn. Rise. at New York City Center Stage II, one of which is streamed and viewed by over 29,000 people through Facebook Live.

Stargate 2016, as a component of the Giving Voice initiative, was funded by Sharon R. Sullivan and Jeffrey B. Kindler, The J.M. Kaplan Fund, Inc., Deutsche Bank, The Tow Foundation, Gina and David Boonshoft, New York State Council on the Arts, The Bay and Paul Foundations, The Monteforte Foundation, Amy and David Abrams, The Bendit Family Foundation, Noah and Susanna Schankler, and The Bulova Stetson Fund.

About Write on the Edge

Write on the Edge primarily serves at-risk and court-involved students enrolled in alternative high schools and programs all over New York City and in northern New Jersey.  Each year the program provides 26 separate residencies, including on Rikers Island and other juvenile detention facilities, affording more than 500 students the uniquely empowering opportunity to write and revise an original play and see it brought to life by professional actors.

Each standard Write on the Edge residency comprises ten classroom visits by an MTC Education teaching artist; professional actors accompany the teaching artist on most of these visits.  During the first three visits, students prepare to attend an MTC production on or off Broadway by engaging in acting, improvisation, and writing exercises that illuminate the play’s structure and key themes.  Immediately afterwards, the students participate in a post-performance discussion in the theatre with the acting company.

Over the course of the subsequent classroom visits, students work with their teaching artist, the guest actors, and their classroom teacher to develop a short play inspired by ideas in the play they attended.  The actors read the emerging drafts aloud and the young playwrights receive notes and feedback from the teaching team and their classmates. The professional actors perform the student plays at the school on the residency’s final visit.

At secure and non-secure facilities for court involved youth, students are obviously unable to attend a production; instead informal classroom performances of MTC plays by the guest actors serve as the springboard for student writing.

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“Students were engaged and enthusiastic about the program. Generally here, students have low self-esteem, small school success, and difficulty dealing with personal issues. The MTC program allows students to feel successful in school, feel accomplished and deal with emotional situations.

– Teacher at Manhattan Pathways to Graduation – The Door

“The MTC workshop has been successful in promoting considerable improvement in the writing ability in the majority of the participants. Comments from students indicate growth in positive self-esteem, increased self-confidence as well as understanding the value of having an education.”

– Teacher at Bronx Pathways to Graduation – Davidson

“This has been a wonderful experience and has helped me discover a new skill and talent I did not know I had.”

– Student at Brooklyn Pathways to Graduation – Schermerhorn

“The amount of work put into every play, it’s remarkable how focused and consistent the writer must be.”

– Student at Flushing Young Adult Borough Center

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During the 2014-15 school year…

98%

of WrOTE students said their understanding of playwriting increased

99%

of WrOTE students said their skills and abilities as a playwright increased

91%

of WrOTE students said that studying and attending an MTC play influenced their playwriting

83%

of WrOTE students had never written a play before

YOU CAN HELP

Empower disadvantaged young people to cope with the adversity in their lives through the medium of theatre.

THE NEED

Fees from schools cover only 15 percent of a WrOTE residency; the rest is underwritten by a family of generous MTC individual and institutional funders.

ADOPT A CLASS

Each WrOTE classroom residency costs approximately $10,000. Interested in adopting a class? Please contact MTC Associate Director of Development Emily Fleisher at [email protected].

DONATE NOW

$2,000 underwrites the costs of an MTC teaching artist for an entire WrOTE residency

$1,000 subsidizes the cost of tickets for a class to attend a performance of an MTC play at New York City Center Stage I

$500 supports 2 professional actors performing student-written plays on Rikers Island

Your gift of any amount can make a difference in a student’s life.

Donate now to MTC Education.

Brooklyn Tech CORE Casa Valentina 2

LEARN MORE

If you would like more information about Stargate Theatre, contact [email protected]

If you would like more information about Write on the Edge, contact [email protected]

Support for the Giving Voice initiative is provided by Sharon Sullivan and Jeffrey B. Kindler, The J.M. Kaplan Fund, Inc., Deutsche Bank, The Tow Foundation, Gina and David Boonshoft, New York State Council on the Arts, The Monteforte Foundation, Amy and David Abrams, The Bay and Paul Foundations, The Bendit Family Foundation, Noah and Susanna Schankler, and the Bulova Stetson Fund.