Hey there! The School Play crew has returned from our statewide road trip.
Five actors, two playwrights, a producer, a stage manager, two flags and six (very large) chairs traveled 2,000 miles around PA in two weeks, presenting 15 shows in 12 counties. We performed in schools and in theatres, sometimes to full houses, sometimes to a small group of local education advocates and parents and once, for Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Education, Pedro Rivera, in his home district of Lancaster, PA.
As a bonus, we happened to hit the road at the peak of fall foliage season, so the endless miles of highway, some of which we crisscrossed in both directions, were magnificently art-directed and lit.
What we learned from our journey is that School Play works exactly as we envisioned. The play touches audiences in every city and town on a personal, emotional level that really points up how universally meaningful our connection to the public education system is — and how critical it is to preserve it as an integral, unifying component of our lives as Americans. Public school creates an astonishingly diverse and robust community of people who believe passionately in democracy and equality of opportunity. This is only one of the valuable and reassuring insights that will surely stay with us.
Everywhere we went, we encountered thoughtful, passionate students, parents, educators and many, many state reps, mayors and senators who came to see the show and speak with us afterwards. In fact, the workshops our actors conducted with students, based on the ideas and techniques used in our play, were a highlight of our trip — as much for the actors as for the students, and certainly for the playwrights.
Students created poems or spoken word pieces based on the play’s “My Favorite Teacher” moment; wrote scenes or monologues and learned to create a character using the resources of their own body, as an actor does. We were frequently invited to return and give neighbors who had missed the play a chance to hear about it and attend. Visitors from other towns asked if we would include them on the next tour.
So now we are back in Philly, strategizing about what direction to take next and how best to support getting Pennsylvania’s schools fairly and reliably funded. If you have suggestions for ways we can use the play to this end, please contact us!
Above all, we hope to take advantage of the momentum generated by our tour: we encourage everyone who expressed interest in doing their own production or reading of School Play to get in touch, and let us know when you’ll be staging your own version! We’re here with support, suggestions, and experience to share.
And finally, of almost equal importance, this invaluable nugget: when planning a road trip in Pennsylvania, amongst truck stops, Iron Skillet rules.