Putting Youth First, How American Legacy Theatre Is Working to Make Theatre Accessible for All

By Ariel Mary Ann

This past Friday, I spent my afternoon attending the world premiere of The Mess created and presented by high school and middle school students at Hughes STEM High School in Clifton. This production was put on through American Legacy Theatre (ALT) as part of their Students Create Change (SC2) programming. SC2 provides high school and middle students with artistic training and support to help them build original shows from the ground up. Students pull from different societal issues that they may want to touch on and use them as a vehicle to create their show. 

 ALT is a local arts organization that works to make theatre accessible for everyone. Historically, this art form has been gatekept from those who are pushed the most to the margins due to racism, classism, and overall ignorance. This organization teaches students about how the arts can be used to speak out against injustices in our society. 

ALT’s most recent production, The Mess touched on classism, alcoholism, homophobia as well as other social issues. It’s clear that these kids worked very hard on this show and had so much fun during the entire process from start to finish. Part of theatre is being able react to your scene partner and play off their energy and that’s exactly what these young actors did. 

So often, Black youth are not afforded the same opportunity to explore the arts compared to their white counterparts. ALT helps to show Black youth that there is space for them and their stories.  

The cast which includes, Ireland Danner-Barnhill as Persephone, Riley Brogden as Irie, Tiaraus Starr-Hameed as Dion, Kenny Williams as Jeremy, and Isaiah Hand-Williams as Andre, all did a wonderful job, and it was truly a pleasure getting to see these young artists shine on stage. More info about ALT can be found here.

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