Thank you for helping US deliver high quality theatre arts and mentoring programs to our most underserved youth and communities last year. Thanks to our dedicated supporters, we grew our programs to serve 1,322 youth and family members at 4 local middle and high schools, 3 juvenile detention centers, and 1 community based inter-generational theatre project. That is a 20% increase from 2015!
I’m proud to share that we exceeded our goals with the help of new programs all over LA:
We expanded Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network programming to 2 new juvenile detention centers
We added Voices for Art and Social Theatre (VAST) in-classroom workshops at Edison Middle School in South LA.
We created Parent PrACTice/PrACTica de Padres, mini drama workshops for families aimed at strengthening parent communication skills and furthering children’s social and emotional development.
In 2017, we’re excited to roll out the newly branded S.T.A.R. (Supportive, Trained and Reliable) volunteer mentor program. We’ve enhanced our existing program with more orientations and trainings throughout the year. We are recruiting and training mentors from the fields of technical theatre and visual arts to work alongside our paid teaching artists to provide increased exposure to the various career paths in the arts, media, and entertainment sector. To learn more about volunteering with USclick here.
Also this year, we will continue to evaluate, refine, and enhance our program models including our professional development training for LA County’s Probation officers. Already this month we led 60 Probation officers through a typical theatre residency workshop to give the officers a first-hand experience of our process. At the conclusion of the training, many of them reported new insight and strategies to add humor and team building in their daily interactions with the incarcerated minors in their care.
Then in March, we will proudly join the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network at Carnegie Hall for “Create Justice”, a new community of thought partners dedicated to advancing the national conversation and driving collective action around the role of the arts in juvenile justice reform.
At the heart of all our work is our students’ creative playwriting and performance process, guided yet uncensored, by our skilled teaching artists. Each play elicits moments of great affection, transformation, connection and reflection.
One that has really stayed with me is Long Live Lies, written by Maclay Middle School students. The story follows a poor undocumented Mexican family coping with the death of their mother. In the wake of her death, siblings struggle to get along and accept each other’s differences while their father is keeping secrets. One child attempts to cope by pushing her family further away and joining a gang. In the end, only love, acceptance, and the truth can save the family.
This year and every year, your support means the world to US. A powerful gift you can give our youth is to attend a performance and witness the pride and confidence that radiates from the stage! I invite you to check out our website calendar and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date and to RSVP for a performance or workshop visit this Spring.
Meet the New Suspects … We are thrilled to welcome four new board members to our team!
Learn more about them HERE.
Save the Date: A Night With US!
Join US Tuesday, February 28th at The Three Clubs for an evening of staged readings, cocktails, and conversation!
We will be announcing the cast on Facebook, so make sure and Follow US to get all the updates.
Where In The World Are The Suspects?
We’ve been busy working to strengthen our programs and spread word of our work!
Thursday, December 8th … The whole US team was spied at Vaughn Middle School for their amazing Page Play “Love Untitled” along with a talented cast of actors. Tuesday, December 13th … Staff, Teaching Artists, and their families were found celebrating the season together at the Unusual Suspects’ office in Glassell Park for the annual Holiday Party. Wednesday, December 14th … Melissa, Caroline, and Meisha were spotted at the LAUSD Arts Community Partnership orientation. Thursday, December 15th …Yolanda and Leo were caught at a California Arts Council board meeting performing excerpts of participants’ work entitled “I Survived.” Monday, January 11th … Melissa, Meisha and Leo were spotted at Edison Middle School hosting a site visit for the organization Women Helping Youth. Friday, January 13th … Melissa and Yolanda were spied at LA County Probation facility Camp Challenger leading a de-escalation training for probation officers and educators.
The Unusual Suspects Theater Company believes every young person deserves to be seen, heard and understood.Through collaborative workshops, we work deeply to empower the hardest to reach communities to tell their stories together leading to self-discovery, a sense of belonging, and the building of stronger families and communities.