Lee Rose will take heart stage because the director of Harpswell Coastal Academy’s new theater program this fall, however he gained’t be bringing Shakespeare, Arthur Miller performs or basic Broadway musicals to the varsity.
The brand new program will focus on introducing college students to political theater, an idea that makes use of theater as a automobile for social change. Rose stated he sees theater, particularly in a faculty setting, as a means of speaking social and political concepts and working towards empathy.
“The artwork kind has been each co-opted by some and banned by different governing our bodies in an effort to promote their agendas,” he stated. “Alternatively, theatrical artwork has additionally been used to combat in opposition to or undermine the ability of oppressive regimes and people.”
Rose’s theater program will solely be supplied to the academy’s highschool on Brunswick Touchdown, which serves grades 9-12. This system might later increase to the academy’s center college campus, on Ash Level Highway in Harpswell, serving grades 5-8.
Rose’s course choices will vary from performing to stagecraft and design to public talking, in accordance with an announcement from the varsity. One in all his missions as a trainer is to make sure no pupil feels their position, whether or not or not it’s performing because the lead in a present or portray set items, is extra necessary than anybody else.
“Everyone seems to be equal in theater; no person is extra necessary than anybody else,” stated Rose. “And not using a lighting designer, actors can’t be seen. And not using a sound engineer, actors can’t be heard. And not using a costume designer, actors can be very embarrassed.”
Initially from New York, Rose developed a love of theater and training at younger age with the assistance of his mom, an elementary trainer, and his father, a salesman.
“My mother used inventive dramatics in her class on a regular basis and my dad and mom cherished the theater,” stated Rose. “They used to take me into Manhattan to see Broadway exhibits in previews. I additionally grew up a few quarter-mile from the Westbury Music Honest, the primary spherical tent summer time theaters within the nation and my dad and mom used to take me there.”
Although he initially entered school to realize a pre-med diploma, he switched his focus to theater in his sophomore yr. He obtained an undergraduate diploma in English and later a graduate diploma in theater.
“I believe my dad and mom have been the one dad and mom on the planet who weren’t devastated after I switched from pre-med to theater,” stated Rose.
He has since held practically each position in a theater manufacturing, together with director, playwright, stage supervisor and actor.
Whereas Rose hasn’t settled on precisely what productions he’ll introduce college students to, he stated he intends to broach the subject of recent politics, a hot-button challenge in recent times, to show college students how theater is utilized in on a regular basis life.
“In actual life, theater is used on a regular basis, notably in politics,” stated Rose. “It’s necessary for us to grasp what techniques are getting used to control our vote. An knowledgeable vote is what we have to be taught and theater can educate that. The distinction between theater and actual life is delicate, malleable and necessary to grasp.”
Whereas the general public constitution college, which serves about 200 college students from the southern Midcoast, beforehand supplied improv courses to college students, Head of College Scott Barksdale stated this would be the college’s first established theater program. He stated this system is “meant to spur conversations and assist folks discover commonalities throughout divides.”
“We need to create a chance for folks to grasp variations and … give them an area to get to know different folks and viewpoints and perceive their very own as nicely,” stated Barksdale.
In his earlier place on the College of Maine at Machias, Rose’s theater college students carried out exhibits akin to “The Moonlight Room” by Tristine Skyler, which tells the story of two youngsters in a hospital ready to listen to the destiny of their buddy who suffers a drug overdose.
Although these matters could be troublesome to debate, Rose and Barksdale stated introducing college students to robust matters by way of theater offers them “scaffolding” for how you can deal with them in actual life.
In response to the Maine Heart for Illness Management and Prevention, 314 Mainers died because of opioid overdose within the first three quarters of 2020. In 2019, 318 died because of opioid overdose statewide.
Whereas solely 28 folks in Sagadahoc County have died from opioid overdose since 2009, in accordance with the Maine CDC, neighboring Cumberland County has seen 639 deaths brought on by opioid overdose since 2009.
“Harpswell Coastal Academy is a perfect setup for delving into the real-life points and dilemmas present in political theater,” stated Barksdale. “We would like our college students to be confronted by the actual world — each its magnificence and its tragedy — after which work out in what methods they need to be part of it. Excessive schoolers can try this — they don’t want issues sugar-coated.”
“Theater is the proper alternative to show life to folks,” stated Rose. “Folks underestimate kids. They perceive greater than we expect they do.”