WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

“Truly reflective of life in modern American high schools.” Avery Diubaldo, American Theatre Magazine

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“Believe me, you have a show here that is about to become a big hit in high schools across the country; my students are really responding to it.” Andy Sinclair, Niles West High School, Chicago

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“Doing this show has completely transformed our work at this school. The production was drop-your-jaw, mind-blowingly incredible. The kids have never experienced anything so genuine. Not a single person wasn’t affected by this show.” Gene Silverman, Long Island High School for the Arts, Nassau

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"Your play is a gift for our community." Awele Makeba, Skyline High School, Oakland

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“As head of the department, I am always looking for material that excites my students and also relates to their lives. Prospect High: Brooklyn was just the piece I was looking for. My students devoured the material, surprised by hearing some of their own stories being told.” Brenda Williams, Harding Fine Arts Academy, Oklahoma City

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“If no one has told you already, what you are doing is important - for the students you worked with, for the student actors that will get to perform their work, and for the audiences of adults who don't understand these kids and can get a glimpse of what their world is.” Rebecca Marten, Milwaukee High School of the Arts

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“This show has provided an opportunity for my students to be part of the larger conversation that is started - how do we begin to seek an answer to the problem of school violence? One of the most productive conversations happened during a rehearsal for the show. Understand that we are one of the highest-ranking public schools in the country. We felt like we could understand some of the problems in Prospect High: Brooklyn, but that we didn't necessarily share them. While we have our problems, this is still Louisville, right? And yet on this particular day all of my students had to remain with me in one room as our school was on high alert after a threat had been called in to our school district. Half of our school had stayed home because of the danger. The irony was not lost on us that we were rehearsing a play about the problem of school violence while we were essentially on a lock down because of the threat of potential school violence. Art meets life. This show is going to resonate with the audience in a much more powerful way now.” Katie Blackerby Weible, Youth Performing Arts School, Louisville

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“That butterfly scene is the most truthful and profound way the issue of cutting has ever been talked about.” Student, Long Island High School for the Arts, Nassau

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“At our school, we focus on the process more than the product. We brought in some people to meet with my five cast members to better understand some of the situations involved in the show. For example, we invited a person who is transgender and is very open to talk about her story; she shared with the students and allowed them to ask questions. We spoke with a parent of a transgender third-grader; this father is very supportive of his child and her journey. Also, one of our students struggled with cutting for a while and she was able to share with our group to help them better understand this way of dealing with stress so that they could be more compassionate to someone they meet dealing with the issue, rather than judging. I am very proud of this group of young actors and seeing how they have changed as people and actors through this process.” Tonya Wilkison, Broad Ripple High School, Indianapolis

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“I have been contacted by a guy who’s playing Anny in one of the schools and he said how cool it is to be doing a play that’s more modern and not from, like, the 1800s. But the most amazing thing was when he said how Anny related to his life so much, and his family doesn't know about his sexuality, so doing this play for him is going to help his family understand him more. That really touched me.” Isaiah Latimer, Student Playwright, New York

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“I want to talk about grit. Grit is what makes it exciting! It's what provides traction. It's what an audience holds onto. That is why youth theatre and high school theatre are so compelling. There is raw talent and burgeoning skill and a whole lot of grit. It's fun to watch a group of people and see the moments of talent, that natural quality that just exudes from them. It's magical to see them use what they are learning and say ‘yes’ as you share their triumph. And it is unexpected and dangerous as you hang on to the edge with them and dig into the grit. That is Prospect High directed by Tonya Wilkison! It's not your high school musical, it's our high schools!” Audience member, Broad Ripple High School, Indianapolis

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“When we had our first table read, my students' initial reaction was, ‘This play is too real; it's like they know us.’ There was an immediate connection to the play, not only because these characters are three-dimensional representations of urban students, but because we have recently suffered a wave of teenage violence in Bridgeport. We see this play as a means to engage our community in a difficult conversation about violence. This play gives voice to students who often have no voice in our society. We couldn't be more proud to be presenting such a timely, mature, and explosive new play.” Shaun Mitchell, Central High School, Bridgeport

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“This is a play that lots of people need to see.” Rebecca Marten, Milwaukee High School of the Arts

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“This is a dynamic, gritty new play devised with authentic student voices grappling with challenges of connection, isolation, sexual identity, friendship, stress, and violence. Often crafted as sequences of two-hander scenes, the play is terrific for performance ensembles large and small, as well as scene study classes. This urban tale addresses contemporary teen issues without apology - and is told by characters that are funny, moving, and at times, scary. I believe this play is a major new voice for TYA.” James. T. Jack, George Street Playhouse

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“I am currently working on the script in table read with my Advanced Drama class. They love it! It speaks to them in a way that is really cool.” Brenda Williams, Harding Fine Arts Academy, Oklahoma City

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“Without meaning to I cast many of the actors in roles that ended up being very close to things they are currently dealing with in their own lives. My Devin has struggled with serious anger issues, my Bria is struggling to graduate, my Anny can't come out to his parents and has moved out of his home, my Rachel has cut in the past. I think the fact that they are either in the midst of going through the same things that their characters have conquered, or have already gotten past them, they are even more committed to doing the play and helping to change someone else's life for the positive. Playing characters who are written in the way they speak and act resonates and validates them so they want to do exactly one of the things that I think is so great about theater and the arts: to change minds.” Rebecca Marten, Milwaukee High School of the Arts

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“That was some deep shit.” Audience member, Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts, Providence

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“Although this play is about high school students, it is by no means a 'high school' play. Prospect High: Brooklyn genuinely reflects urban student's lives, the ways they speak and the real life issues they face, without creating stereotypes. My students immediately connected with the words and the characters, many finding their lives written on the page. Because of this, they are inspired to perform to try to change minds, perceptions, and stigma about who the urban student is.” Rebecca Marten, Milwaukee High School of the Arts

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“During a time in which societal systems seem to be broken, we are proud to present a work that breathes both adolescent urgency and adult unresolved past experiences. This forward thinking play unravels in the span of a day with unflinching honesty and razor sharp truth-telling, all under a cloud of familiar pain.” Juanita Rodrigues, Boston Arts Academy

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“This is the first time in 14 years our school has moved on to the state finals. Prospect High brought us there.” Bryan Mitchell, Leon High School, Tallahassee

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“This is the first full length play that our school has produced… My principal handed me an unused room - picture an ugly concrete box with florescent lighting and an echo like the Grand Canyon - and we've since transformed it into a DIY-style Black Box Theater. Yesterday, as we were painting sets and teetering on the ladder to hang lights, it struck me that all of our equipment has essentially been donated from grants I've written or performance fundraisers the students have done. In many ways, the themes of Prospect High: Brooklyn mirror our own situation - students striving to reach their fullest dreams, abilities, and humanity all while being stuck within the dysfunction of our present-day underfunded urban schools… At times it feels like our urban public schools have been consigned to a slow death, and yet our collective efforts at making meaningful art are a mechanism of breathing life back into them!” Anissa Weinraub, Academy at Palumbo, Philadelphia

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“They hit some people pretty hard last night; tears on faces as they walked out of the theatre.” Tonya Wilkison, Broad Ripple High School, Indianapolis

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“I am a teacher in Toronto and used this play in one of my freshman English classes. They absolutely loved studying it. Themes of cutting, gender identity, gangs, relationships, and poverty all come together in an authentic and dramatic high school setting with a set of characters who are interesting and relatable. I highly recommend it in an English or Drama class. Some of my struggling readers were able to read it, and enjoy it since it dealt with issues in which they were interested, while using everyday language.” Melissa Morehouse, Toronto District School Board

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“We have a culturally diverse cast of kids who were drawn to the project because of the real life issues presented in the play. Our small black box venue allows the audience to see up close and personal the struggles these young characters face on a daily basis. In the early days of our rehearsals, the kids shared memories of witnessing or being a part of bullying and violence. The kids used these memories as a foundation from which to build their characters.” Lisa Weitzman, Capital Area School for the Arts Charter School, Harrisburg

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“The most touching scene for me was when Mr. Nichols and Makala had an intimate conversation about cutting, the phenomenon where an individual digs into their skin to make it bleed. The two actors did a delicate job with this particular scene and I will keep the story of using Sharpies to create butterflies with me for the rest of my life.” Bryan Ripley Crandall, Central High School, Bridgeport

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“This play is such an authentic representation of its characters and setting. The way the play was developed is so unique and interesting, making it a wonderful read for anyone, but especially for high school students and young playwrights. It speaks to the diversity of the high school experience while portraying a specific community.” Aliza Greenberg, The Learning Spring School, New York

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“It was unbelievable. I forgot I was watching actors. That script is amazing and so well written. Each character was developed so magnificently that it was tough to find a favorite. These messages need to be seen!” Friedrika Robinson, parent, Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts, Providence

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“The Boston production enlisted the help of Lab Director, Dr. Nettrice Gaskins, and a team of students. The Tech Team, with oversight by Mr. ADEkoje, created and complied several video clips to reflect the external experiences and internal feelings of the characters in the play. ADEkoje and his Film Lab students shot and edited videos featuring cast members and the school environment. Visual Art/Theater senior Nathaniel Whitaker created animated graphics such as iPhone texting and Instagram posting. Dr. Gaskins used a Wacom tablet and Leap Motion Controller to create motion-based drawings to simulate an actor’s pencil writing. Music visualization software was used to create graphics that respond to music in the production. Gaskins trained the Tech Team on how to do video projection mapping. The production will have three student operators who will project and map videos on three walls of the stage.” John ADEkoje, Boston Arts Academy

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“A great show that explores the complexity of being a teacher and a student in today’s public school system.” Elizabeth Dunn-Ruiz, Roundabout Theatre Company

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“I think what Prospect High so importantly achieves is that it humanizes violence. We are rooting for Devin, empathizing with him, and can see that deep down, his violence is the expression of incredibly deep pain and longing and confusion.  In a society that is reflexively punitive and that demonizes young black men, I think this is profoundly valuable.” Daniel Cantor, University of Michigan

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“One of the festival judges was quite moved by the gun violence content, as she personally experienced a student bringing a gun to school and shooting himself.” Bryan Mitchell, Leon High School, Tallahassee

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“From the first table read, my students have been connected to the characters of Prospect High: Brooklyn. The issues faced by teenagers are universal no matter where they live. They are keenly aware that violence is a threat to their population on a daily basis with steady reminders from our ‘run, hide, and defend’ drills.” Chuck Manthe, Lincoln High School, San Jose

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“The Pioneer Theater Guild cast has been highly engaged by the play, both by the way it immediately addresses issues they have first hand experience with (cutting, trans acceptance, bullying, home life stresses, racism), and in the ways in which the play has them reaching to bridge a divide between their own experience and aspects of the urban high school they're less familiar with. Discussions during rehearsal have been personal and robust, and by extension the students are realizing that they can really put themselves into the work - a transformative experience for many of them! While Ann Arbor doesn't quite match the demographics of the neighborhood in which Prospect High is based, it is still a diverse city and the cast is been gratified to be part of an ensemble that includes students that are African-American, Latino-American, Asian-American, White-American, Multiracial, on exchange from Nigeria, and of varying sexual orientations and gender identities. We are experiencing first hand the dynamism of diversity.” Daniel Cantor, University of Michigan

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“Just as Romeo and Juliet is not only a tragic love story, but also the saga of troubled teenagers and those who could have intervened to save them, so too, Prospect High: Brooklyn is a cautionary tale about the consequences of seeing conflict and saying nothing, or adding fuel to the fire.” Abbe Gross, Long Island High School for the Arts

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“It is very difficult to find large-cast pieces for student actors, and this play has presented the opportunity for my students to work with a subject matter that is relevant and timely to them. There is not an issue in the play that has not affected a member of the cast in a direct way.” Dr. Marlene Goebig, Philadelphia School for Creative and Performing Arts

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“While the play investigates a wide swath of issues that concern young people, at its core it is a story about how our failures to communicate and empathize, to hear each other - across divides of age, race, gender, and circumstance - can have dire consequences.  That those failures, combined with the stresses of poverty, and of societal and institutional indifference, engender a kind of desperation, which in turn can result in violence. That is, Prospect High investigates the multiple root causes that might make a young person susceptible to violence. The play doesn’t pretend to offer an answer to the systemic problems of our culture except to say that the first step is, and must be, listening.” Daniel Cantor, University of Michigan

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“This play has reached out to the student demographic here at Leon in powerful ways. It’s a play for the time. There are very few plays written for high school students; most are too old, too young, or out of date. The kids love the opportunity to play characters closer to their age and in situations they can relate to.” Bryan Mitchell, Leon High School, Tallahassee

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“This is the right play for Niles West Theatre at the right time. When this text came into my hands last year, I was blown away by how current and fresh the dialogue felt - it didn't feel forced or heavy handed. It sounded like my students. Working on this production has been a ‘dream project’ for me as a director - the table work, the creation - all done with the mission of honesty in mind - has been the creative boost my students and I needed.” Andy Sinclair, Niles West High School, Chicago

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“Thanks to you and to the students for creating this one-of-a-kind project. Honestly, hats off to you - I believe you've achieved precisely what you had aimed to achieve.” Daniel Cantor, University of Michigan

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“During the two nights we performed the play, over 450 students, faculty, staff, families, friends supporters and board members attended. Afterwards, many expressed their appreciation of the way the subject matter was handled within the text and how delighted they were with the focus and maturity that the performers demonstrated during the show.” Nanci DeRobbio, Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts, Providence

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“Even though some of the stuff was hard to hear, it needed to be heard.” Audience member, Lincoln High School, San Jose

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“This show is very powerful. It sends a message of what it can be like as a teenager, specifically in a bad neighborhood. It discusses issues of kids not being the problem, being pushed to their breaking point, and the stress on poorly paid teachers. As a teenager in this society, we can fully understand and respect the depth of this play. This is my first play, and I can tell you that it’s unbelievable what they’ve done. I really felt something I didn’t before. This show is extremely well done and I’m very proud to say that I’m a part of it.” Billy Rosenzweig, student, Niles West High School, Chicago

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“I would describe this show as a slice of life in an urban high school setting. It is real, it is gritty, it is vulgar - and it is authentic to many teenagers’ lives. My director’s note in the program talks about the fact that some audiences won’t want to hear the characters’ messages - they are scary and abrupt. However, if we listen, we may learn. This could lead to the change we need in society. Sometimes the messages aren’t pretty or easy to swallow. However, those are the ones we need to hear the most.” Andy Sinclair, Niles West High School, Chicago

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Prospect High: Brooklyn opens the door for conversation and advice on how to cope with and improve school culture.” Nancy Churnin, The Dallas Morning News

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