by IOCA Program Coordinator, KT Leuterio
This month, I had the great opportunity to join the Inside Out Community Arts students as they took part in the first of three major events that are a part of the 18-week program. Students from John Adams Middle School and Whaley Middle School attended our Theatre Field Trip, which included lunch in the Vista Hermosa Natural Park followed by a visit to The Mark Taper Forum to see Zoot Suit. We all enjoyed a day of bonding, games, and theatre!
We started off our day at Vista Hermosa Natural Park, where students from each school had a chance to mingle and play theatre games. Courage is one of the three major values that Inside Out students learn about and practice throughout the session, and this event was the perfect chance to be courageous and make new friends with students from another school. The students certainly started off a little shy and quiet at 10 o’clock in the morning, but soon warmed up once the sun came out from behind the clouds and after a few games.
Next, the students played a game we call the Tableau Challenge. In our past workshops, Inside Out students learn about a “tableau,” which is a frozen moment in time, often capturing an important moment onstage. In groups, students raced to unscramble several vocabulary words, received costume and prop pieces, and created a tableau using their collective imaginations based on characters and themes of Zoot Suit. Each group presented their creations, which ranged from tableaus entitled “The Diamond Dress,” and “The Quinceanera.” It was a really fun activity that showcased their creativity and collaboration!
After these activities, excitement began to build for the upcoming performance. After a quick lunch, students quickly boarded their buses and headed off to the Mark Taper Forum to see Zoot Suit!
The performance was incredible. It was everything I was expecting and more! It was filled with drama and humor, and was such a dynamic and relevant piece of work to see revived in 2017. The Inside Out students were engaged and thoughtful throughout the performance– it was quite a delight to hear the students laugh, gasp, and react while watching Zoot Suit. As we walked out of the theatre, I overheard some of the students debating over which character was their favorite.
For many of the Inside Out students, seeing Zoot Suit at the Mark Taper Forum was their first experience at a professional theatre. It was so rewarding to be able to share this experience with them!
After the performance, Inside Out was lucky enough to meet actors Matias Ponce and Brian Abraham. Matias portrayed Henry Reyna, and Brian played the role of lawyer George Shearer. They generously spent some time with the Inside Out students for a Q&A. Matias talked about his journey as an actor, his experiences onstage, and gave the students some advice for their upcoming performance in May.
As I watched the students board their buses to go back to school, I could sense the excitement and inspiration in the air. I’m so excited to see this inspiration at work as they create their original plays. I can’t wait to see what they come up with at their performance in May!