Theatre Memphis: Caritas Village Peacemakers Project
Theatre Memphis performs its ShoWagon series for neighborhood residents at Caritas Village, a nonprofit community center in Binghampton that uses the arts, after-school programs, hospitality and health care services to break down barriers between neighbors from different socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. Theatre Memphis performs Rikki Tikki Tavi and engages students in theatre by allowing them to rehearse their own plays and poems, and in the visual arts through crafts and set design related to the play.
After a few weeks of rehearsal and preparation, parents, relatives, friends and neighborhood residents are invited to Potluck and a Play. Students perform their plays, and afterwards everyone shares a meal.
By engaging neighborhood kids in theatre - many of whom speak English as a second language - the program is improving the chidren's confidence and public speaking skills and fostering an early interest in the arts.
Theatre Memphis Director of Outreach and Education Leslie Barker reports that her favorite moment in the program so far has been watching a four-year-old girl who is very shy and doesn’t speak much English JUMP onto the stage after a performance, unable to contain her excitement in seeing the performers in action with their masks and puppets.