The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company (US) is a recognized leader in the fields of arts education, mentorship and community building, having been a thriving force in the underserved neighborhoods of Los Angeles County for over two decades. Our participant-driven theatre-arts programs utilize arts education to mitigate the underlying family and community risk factors that threaten the healthy development of the 1,000+ children and adults we serve annually (90% in grades 5-12), including foster youth and incarcerated minors. Designed to empower youth with lifelong skills, the benefits of our programs go beyond the reach of a typical arts education workshop to provide vulnerable youth with the hope and confidence to overcome their difficult surroundings.
US was founded over 20 years ago with the mission to empower youth in underserved and at-risk environments with the means and methods necessary to explore personal and social conflicts and develop self-esteem and communication and coping skills in order to make positive life choices and become productive members of the community. Since then, US has grown from a small youth-intervention program into a collaborative, community-based theatre arts organization with a presence in underserved schools and juvenile detention camps throughout Los Angeles County. Today, with a staff of 7; a roster of 20 professional teaching artists; best-practice, standards-based curricula; and a significant role in countywide collaborative efforts, US’s innovative, place-based programs now serve over 1,000 Los Angelinos each year between the ages of 7-65+.
Description of 4 hour Lesson: Discovering Our Voice: Personal Expression through Theatre.
The Unusual Suspects 4 hour interactive professional development workshop provides middle school teachers the tools to build a creative classroom environment where students feel safe to explore personal and social group identities; and develop characters and story lines which become the foundational material to fuel a collaborative playwriting process. The US presenter will use theatre arts and playwriting exercises that demonstrate theatrical story development, script writing, and improvisation techniques. The standards based, language arts enrichment workshop will utilize ensemble exercises to establish trust, improvisation techniques to illustrate conflict and character development strategies, and writing exercises to explore the link between personal, cultural, and community issues.