Performance, Learning Take Center Stage in Local High School Partnership
August 27, 2009 – The university’s theater and performance studies program and Duke Ellington School of the Arts officially launched a partnership this summer, joining students from both schools on stage for theatrical productions and other learning opportunities.
The theater and performance studies program offered a six-week, intensive course this summer at the Davis Performing Arts Center that culminated with July 16-18 performances of Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning classic Our Town, starring students from both schools.
Georgetown professor Derek Goldman, who co-directed the production with fellow faculty member Sarah Marshall, says Our Town, which illuminates the prosaic activities of daily life, was the perfect play to launch the ongoing community collaboration between the university and local high school.
“It’s about what we notice in the world, both in our own intimate family lives and in the wider orbits of community in which we interact,” says Goldman, who also is director of theater and performing arts.
Just the Beginning
Goldman says he hopes the partnership with Duke Ellington will continue to grow. Conversations have already begun about future co-productions, collaborative master classes, workshops and other projects that will continue to bring the two communities together during the summer and regular academic year.
While studying international politics at Georgetown, Alex Kostura (SFS’09) lived on 35th Street for a year, directly across from Duke Ellington, but says he never visited the campus. Likewise, Duke Ellington senior DeAndré Baker hadn’t spent time on the Georgetown campus or given any thought to its theater program located mere blocks from his high school.
Through the partnership, the two have already developed lasting perspectives of each other’s schools.
“It was remarkable the level of professionalism and intensity with which the Ellington students worked,” Kostura says. “They helped me achieve my best because they were so into the process.”
Baker says he is excited about the future possibilities with his newly discovered neighbors. “I got a sense of what’s waiting for me at the college level …” he says. “I think it’s nice that we theater students now have an extra space that we can branch off to, that’s not that far from home.”
The collaborative effort marks just one of the performing arts department’s numerous partnerships that include relationships with arts organizations such as Arena Stage, Synetic Theatre, American Opera Theater, Post-Classical Ensemble and the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange.