YourStories – Schools

YourStories projects encourage students to share their stories and explore ideas through writing, improvisation, and visual art, resulting in an original performance piece developed from their own words and images.

YourStories project can be implemented in a single school or at multiple locations, but works best when the students are in the same age range. The project may be folded into your school curriculum for Language Arts/Writing, Drama, Visual Art, and Social Studies.   It can also be implemented as an after-school or summer program. The most interesting projects happen when students from different schools, neighborhoods, or backgrounds contribute.

Project Themes

The project is usually centered on a central concept or theme, which may be determined in advance, or decided by the consensus of the participants as artists and students begin working together. Examples of past project themes include:

  • An Exploration of the Bill of Rights and the meaning of Freedom
  • The events of 9/11 and how America changed after that day
  • War – in the world, the neighborhood, at school, at home, and within
  • Coming of Age – friendship, peer pressure, fitting in and standing out
  • Bullying – what it feels like, how to survive it, how to stop it
  • You Don’t Know Me – designed to break down barriers, overcome prejudices, and open up the lines of communication between students from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Project Process

YourStories has six key phases:

  1. Planning – artists meet with the teacher(s)  to set up the project parameters, learning objectives, and schedule.
  2. Residency – artists work in the classroom with students to warm them up to the project, discuss the theme, and set the creative process in motion.
  3. Creation Period – students write and create artwork based on the designated theme. This can happen in class, facilitated by the teacher, or the artists.  The creation process can be folded into your school curriculum  by making sit a class assignment for credit. At the end of the creation period, the student work is collected and submitted to the company.
  4. Script Development – artists select pieces from the students’ written work and shape it into a performance piece—story, dialogue, and music. Student artwork is used in creating scenic elements (and sometimes costumes.
  5. Performance -the finished work is produced and performed.
  6. Follow-Up – discussion, reflection, and evaluation of the project.

Performance Options

The final performance can be presented in one of two ways:

  • Our company can produce the show with professional actors and bring the finished work back to your school (works best for shows developed with high school students).
  • Our artists can facilitate a production at your school with students performing the work and creating the sets and costumes themselves.

For schools with limited budgets (or located at too great a distance for artists to complete a long residency period),  Unexpected Company can develop and provide the finished script and design elements for your production, so that you can produce the play with your students. At your request, our artists can come back in the few days before production to do some final coaching with the performers.

Technology Enhancements

YourStories projects can be enhanced through the use of technology including:

  • Video and photos of students captured during the residency and creation phases of the project can be incorporated into the final production.
  • Student writing and art work (include work not selected for the final performance piece) can be displayed on a project website.
  • The final performance can be recorded and made available as a DVD or streaming video.

Budget & Funding

A YourStories project can be designed to fit your school’s needs and budget. The final performance can be as simple as a staged reading with minimal technical elements, a fully realized theatre production, with sets, costumes, and multi-media effects, or a video-based project.  Public performances of your project may be used as a fundraiser for your school.

Unexpected Company has an experienced grantwriter on staff who can help you locate potential funding for your project and assist you in preparing grant and sponsorship applications.