Given the breadth of talent and access to industry, Los Angeles is home to many wonderful theatre arts, after-school, and mentoring programs; We are proud to call many of them partners and friends. Los Angeles is also home to a variety of nuanced communities and neighborhoods, and the tools used to address each one’s particular needs must be as multifaceted as its people. Our team has spent over 20 years teaching, reaching, and transforming Los Angeles’ youth. Here’s what characterizes our work:
Los Angeles is known to some as the ‘Gang Capital’ of America. While many reports are expressing record lows in juvenile crime, the dips aren’t consistent neighborhood to neighborhood, and incarceration rates are still spiking. Committed to meeting the needs of Los Angeles’ most vulnerable youth, we identify and work with communities, schools, and detention centers with the most incidents of violence and crime, and the highest poverty, incarceration, and dropout rates.
We are devoted to Los Angeles’ youth, and believe that there is hope for each one if given the right opportunity and support, and that’s exactly what we do. A majority of the youth involved in our programming (over 1,200 annually) live in poverty, have visions of futures shaped by violence and loss, struggle with reading and writing skills, and as a result, have low self esteem and broken relationships. Our team uses the stage as a vehicle for confidence, hope, reconciliation and belonging.
It’s not easy to teach a child to write, it’s even harder to teach them how to get in front of an audience to direct and perform their words, vulnerably, before their peers, families, and communities. Both in our school programs and juvenile detention centers—in conjunction with a county and state approved curriculum developed in-house—the youth write, direct, and perform their stories, uncensored, and in their own voices. The resulting outcomes for these young people are lasting and life-changing.
We value our TAs labor in and out of the classroom. We value our TAs artistic endeavors and understand that we hire TAs who are artistic professionals and commit to working flexibly so they can continue to engage with their artistry, while introducing their art to students through The Unusual Suspects. We are transitioning immediately from a deficient mindset to empowering abundant language with our funders and donors, as well as the communities we serve.
Some action steps the Programs Team is implementing are below:
“The experience with the US program had a great influence on me. I am better able to deal with my anger in a constructive manner. The program helped me realize that I have a great deal of potential in Theatre.
I now have more confidence with my studies and other activities that I do.The Unusual Suspects program has given me the tools to succeed in my academic as well as personal life. It has helped me to become a positive role model for others who experience similar difficulties.”