February 29, 2016
According to a January article in American Theatre, over 37,000 school theatre performances are attended by roughly 50 million people each year in the United States. Theatre in Our Schools Month, beginning tomorrow, is an opportunity to inform those audience members, and millions more, that the pleasure they get from seeing a show on stage is just one of many benefits that school theatre brings to all involved.
The Theatre in Our Schools (TIOS) campaign, jointly sponsored by the American Alliance for Theatre & Education (AATE) and the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA), was created to raise public awareness of the value of theatre education and draw attention to the need for more access to quality programs for all students. On February 5, it was announced that Broadway star Kelli O'Hara, winner of a 2015 Tony Award for her work in The King and I, had signed on as the campaign's official spokesperson.
O’Hara is known by audiences on Broadway and beyond for South Pacific, The Pajama Game, and Light in the Piazza, for her work in the TV series Sex in the City, and for her starring role as Mrs. Darling in “Peter Pan Live” on NBC. She is a frequent guest artist on the PBS Memorial Day and July 4th telecasts.
To promote TIOS, O'Hara has recorded a series of public service announcements. In the first, released today, she describes what she learned from theatre education—a lesson more far-reaching than simply learning lines. To promote TIOS she, along with the members of AATE, EdTA and the 100,000 members of the International Thespian Society, will be sharing the PSAs on social media. In a recent interview O'Hara further elaborated on the impact theatre education had on her personally. "I learned what it meant to love art, to embrace differences, to break down walls of insecurity, and to grow as an actress and as a person.”
“Being a part of my high school's theatre department helped shape my artistic curiosity," said AATE President Gary Minyard. "I'm thrilled to celebrate TIOS and advocate for the power of live theatrical experiences with people all over the country."
The timing of TIOS is particularly appropriate as it coincides with the Americans for the Arts-sponsored Arts Advocacy Day, March 7-8 in Washington, D.C., as well as the recent authorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which asserts that arts education should be part of the well-rounded education of all students.
For more information visit Theatre in Our Schools and follow #TIOS16 and #TheatreinOurSchools.