Arts as Outreach

In keeping with our Jesuit Mission, Fairfield Prep students serve our local communities in many ways — including the arts. Below is a snapshot of some recent examples.

'Peter and the Starcatcher' show for Brooklyn Jesuit

Students in Prep Players have come to appreciate the importance of young people having the experience of live theatre. The group saw Peter and the Starcatcher as another wonderful opportunity to reach out to young audiences, and so we have arranged to do a Wednesday matinee performance for the students of St. Ignatius School, a Catholic, co-educational, Jesuit-sponsored and tuition-free middle school (grades 6 through 8) in the Hunts Point neighborhood of the South Bronx.

After the SIS students had the opportunity to have a talkback with our cast and ask questions about the story and the production. Prep then host the student for lunch with the cast and a tour of Fairfield University’s campus, as many of them may have not experienced a college campus before.

Story Pirates Project with students from St. Raphael's in Bridgeport

Our collaboration with St. Raphel's students began when we went to perform what is called an Idea Storm. This is an improv based performance that models for the students the elements that make a story work: interesting characters, compelling challenges and a beginning, a middle and an end. With the help of the third graders that day, the Players created the tale of Waffles the Lego Building and his best friend Sam the Shark as they journeyed the ocean to discover how to become the ice cream man. After our performance, the ensemble went into the third grade class to guide them as they wrote stories of their own. 

When the third graders had finished their stories, they sent all of them to us. The Players went through them and wrote each student a note personal note highlighting what they liked about the piece. Then as a group we selected eight of the stories to turn into short plays. From here we took on the process of bringing the endless imagination of the third graders to life. The Players very much took the lead in this process – bouncing ideas off of one another and spending a lot of time finding their way through improv. It has involved at lot of creativity, energy and experimentation balanced with staying true to the intentions of the stories the students wrote.

The Red Chair Project

Fairfield Prep’s Red Chair was designed by the school's Art Club to raise awareness of the root causes of the lack of educational access. Because The Red Chair serves as a figurative symbol of the millions of children who, literally, do not have a seat in a classroom, Prep conducted an awareness campaign through May 1, 2018, The Red Chair will circulate into a different classroom, and will never be occupied.

Mrs. Kathleen Jackson spoke on behalf of the project: "The hope with this Red Chair Project is that it will create a stage for your young inspiring minds to make the important links putting fresh ideas to work in the real world. So, how do we overcome all the obstacles, the nay-sayers, the pessimism? You start with an attitude of gratitude, an appreciation so deep that it drives you to help those who can’t help themselves. So thankful an attitude that you feel it your duty & moral obligation to speak out for those with no voice, to stand up for those being oppressed, to innovate in order to make the world a better place!"

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The Laramie Project

The story of the death of Matthew Shepard is a reminder to all of us how irrational hate can lead to violence and break down communal bonds. It speaks to the issues of justice and tolerance that as a Jesuit institution we strive to promote. Producing this play gives us the opportunity to explore issues of human dignity in a powerful way, helping us to mold students who are beginning to perform a faith that does justice, as we are challenged by St. Ignatius to do.  For this reason, we decided to approach the sensitive topics found within this play as a school community.
 
We have created a cross-curricular event around this piece across all levels in order to set a thoughtful context for our students by looking at the play through a civil rights, literary and theological perspective. In History classes, the context for the play will be set in terms of the civil rights movement.  In English, all students will explore the effects of violence and hate through poetry, and Theology classes will offer the opportunity to reflect on these themes and their social justice implications.