Today, I am going to tell you about one of our Los Angeles partners that is helping youth develop their voice both on and off the stage. Blaire Larsen and Julia Walker Wyson produce child-Shakespeare productions; what sets their organization apart is their belief that they can do anything they decide to do…and so far they have!
Organization: Los Angeles Drama Club (LADC)
Location: Los Angeles, California
Context: No one can debate the importance of arts education. Children who study the theatrical arts have higher test scores, improved reading comprehension, better attendance records, increased confidence, and better social skills than their non-arts counterparts. Despite the overwhelming positive benefits, arts programs are underfunded and many inner-city youth are not able to access these programs.
Background: The Los Angeles Drama Club began in 2004 when two local moms, who were also professional actors, gathered a handful of neighborhood kids in one of their backyards to learn about the world of Shakespeare. Today, the club hosts programs for more than 100 youngsters and they have expanded to a second troupe.
Current Status: In March 2015, GO Campaign approved a grant for $9,000 enabling LADC to add a second production to their Shakespeare in the City Spring season. The troupe which includes 40 youth performed Pericles. Many of their actors were performing Shakespeare for the first time to packed houses reaching hundreds more youth.
Maija was an introverted child who struggled to make friends. Maija’s mom enrolled her in LADC and watched her child transform from a quiet introvert to a confident 12 year old in just a few months. LADC helped Maija develop the confidence to speak up for herself and ask for help when needed. Her work ethic has greatly improved, as has her ability to be resilient. In short, this program has given Maija confidence, enhanced her critical thinking skills, helped her find her voice both literally and figuratively, and helped her establish enduring friendships.