Photograph of a Baltimore School for the Arts student in partnership with the National Portrait Studio

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In the News Stage Design & Production

BSA Students Bring Local History to Life

Sophomore theatre and stage production students had the exciting opportunity to work with National Park Service and Historic Hampton, Inc. to present Finding the Story: Confronting the Past, three short original plays based on research and exploring the questions:

  • What happens when you visit a National Park and people from the past reach out and talk to you?
  • What does it feel like to hold the 170 year old diary of a girl exactly your own age?
  • Did you realize that a hundred years ago enslaved people spent their lives working in your own neighborhood?

See a piece on the project on ABC News and on the Baltimore Watchdog. The plays, in concert with Black History Month, were also presented to audiences from City Schools at BSA.

Students and playwrights created scripts based on actual documents about the people that lived and worked at the historic plantation. The stories they tell take us back in time to periods in American history we thought we knew about, but there are surprises in store. Uncovering relationships of the past, we begin to understand what is still with us today. As we celebrate the Centennial of the National Park Service, it is a great time to look at what we have chosen to preserve, and how much we can still discover when we look with the eyes of the next generation.

A public performance of Finding the Story: Confronting the Past was presented at Hampton NHS on February 20, 2016.

The project is part of an ongoing outreach partnership that in past years has covered other topics relevant to Maryland history.

In 2014-15, BSA stage production and theatre students learned about The Great War. Through that year’s partnership program with the Maryland Historical Society and the National Parks, the sophomore ensembles looked at the effects of WWI on soldiers, nurses, relief workers, and family members during the difficult years of 1918-1919. Three short plays explored the theme of “putting on your mask” both literally and figuratively. Against the backdrop of the flu pandemic, people met the effects of modern warfare with progressive medical, psychological and social innovations.

To hear sophomores Garry Mogge and Greg Parker interviewed about the program by Sheila Kast on Maryland Morning, click here. To read the MDHS blog about the project, click here. Sophomores Ifeteyo Kitwala and Suni Watkins appeared on WBAL as well to talk about the project. To see the video, click here.

Over the years this partnership has added to the scholarly collection of the MDHS. Last year’s plays were performed at Fort McHenry in three locations not always open to regular visitors as well as for City Neighbors, Fort Meade High, at the Creative Alliance, and for Patterson Park Charter.

In the fall of 2014 students were part of the Star Spangled Spectacular at Fort McHenry as Baltimore celebrated the bicentennial of our National Anthem where they presented historical plays called Citizen Stand: Battle for Baltimore 1814, featuring three short works based in 1814. BSA students also participated with 6,600 other students in the Star Spangled Spectacular’s Living Flag, the largest in history, on September 9!

For more information about the spring production of Citizen Stand, check out this story on WBAL.

And this interview on the Marc Steiner Show.

2013’s theme was Torn Asunder: Civil War Midstream. Public performances of Torn Asunder were held at Hampton National Historic Site, a former slave plantation in Baltimore County, Fort McHenry, the MDHS, and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.  Students were also invited to present the scenes at the International Theatre Museum Alliance’s convention in Washington, DC as the featured event of the day!

Over that summer, students were featured in voice-over narration on The Friends of Fort McHenry Star-Spangled boat tours.

For a photo gallery of the Hampton Mansion event in The Baltimore Sun, click here.

To read more about the project and BSA’s own costumer, Nora Worthington, who has guided this collaboration, click here.

Promotional materials are designed by BSA students.

The year before, students were cast and crew in Fighting for Freedom at Fort McHenry and the Maryland Historical Society. That project was featured in The Baltimore Sun on Sunday, April 20, and Monday, April 21. Check out the story at this link.

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