The Public Theatre achieved a significant milestone recently when it performed for its 100,000th student.
This was no accident. In response to the nationwide challenges of widespread budget cuts in arts education, as well as demographic trends yielding a “graying audience” for the performing arts, The Public Theatre has redoubled its efforts in recent years to bring the performing arts into the hearts and lives of Maine students by making school field trips to the Theatre more affordable, inspiring, and educational.
For instance, in 2010, they created a special youth-priced ticket that allows anyone age 18 or younger to attend any performance for only $5 – the lowest price for professional theatre in New England. This effort was made possible by generous support from a variety of community businesses and foundations.
Also, all students who attend a student matinee performance are now provided with a unique opportunity to interact with the people who created the performance in a post-show discussion with the actors and director.
Finally, detailed study guides, written especially for students by Bates College Professor of Theater Martin Andrucki, are created for each production to enhance students’ viewing experience. These are made available free of charge on The Public Theatre’s website.
These efforts are paying off. In recent years, the Theatre’s youth attendance has increased by nearly 700%, and over 100 different schools throughout Maine have brought students to attend their award-winning professional productions.
“The Public Theatre is an incredible resource for Maine children,” says Pia Holmes, Principal of Manchester and Mount Vernon Elementary School. She points out that the chance to talk with and question professional Broadway, television, and film actors right here in Maine is a “once in a lifetime opportunity for many students.”
In addition to its student matinee program and youth-priced ticket, educational opportunities at The Public Theatre include middle school, high school and college level internships, as well as a Professional Summer Training Program for young actors ages 10 to 16 who are interested in pursuing a future in acting.
For more information about all educational opportunities at The Public Theatre or its student matinee schedule for 2014-15, call 782-3200 or see www.thepublictheatre.org.