“I am an Islander” Classroom Residency

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By Orlando Morales, Director of Education and Engagement

“Welcome to The Rock if you come from away,
You’ll probably understand about half of what we say.
They say no man’s an island but an island makes a man… I am an islander!”

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Education Specialist and Teaching Artist Anya Rudnick

At the end of October, local students will fill The 5th Avenue Theatre for a special high school performance of Come From Away. For students from eight local high schools participating in the “I Am An Islander” Project, attending this performance at The 5th will be just one stepping stone in a larger effort to explore the show’s themes and build a stronger community through dialogue, storytelling, and collecting oral histories.

These unique school residencies began on Friday last week.

Starting a residency at a new school is always exciting—but it’s also always colored with some apprehension. These are the questions that are often swirling around in my brain on the first day:

  1. Oh shoot, where am I supposed to park?
    High school parking lots can be areas of active territorial dispute. Avoid the senior lot and don’t hesitate to explain that you’re just here to talk about musicals.
  2. What is the writing on the wall?
    The walk from the office to the classroom is an important time for learning more about what the school takes the most pride in—and all the information is written on the walls…usually asserted in butcher paper and poster paint—or amazing student murals.
  3. When’s homecoming?
    A fall residency lands in the season of homecoming. And whether a student is excited about it, dreading it, not interested, or morally opposed to it—it’s usually a good way for a theater teaching artist to break the ice… Especially in a climate of increasingly theatrical homecoming proposals.
  4. What is the conversation that the students want to have?
    Come From Away is a musical that I’m excited to introduce to classrooms—because students are eager to talk about identity, inclusion, and how events can affect how we see the world.
  5. When do I get to come back?
    If you ever want to reaffirm your hope for the future or find new faith in the next generations, spend some time making theater and art with a group of teenagers. By the time bell rings, you’re already looking forward to the next session.

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