The power of theatre

By Kathleen Crostic on January 18. 2018

Through the Towson Theatre Infusion program, TU students share the live theatre experience with high school students across Maryland.

High School students from around Maryland participate in a special discussion with undergraduate students from Towson University's Department of Theatre Arts. The discussion was part of the Towson Theatre Infusion program.
High School students from around Maryland participate in a special discussion with undergraduate students from Towson University's Department of Theatre Arts. The discussion was part of the Towson Theatre Infusion program.

“This article was originally published in the TU Innovates Blog on Dec. 6, 2017”

With awards season in full swing, many are looking at what actors have used their talents to win a Golden Globe or Academy Award. Meantime, thespians in Towson University’s Department of Theatre Arts are using their skills to help guide younger generations.

Through Towson Theatre Infusion (TTI), a program within the College of Fine Arts and Communication, students and faculty of the Towson University Department of Theatre Arts provide educational experiences to high school students in preparation for their attendance of a theatre production at Towson University’s Mainstage

Towson University’s Department of Theatre Arts partners with high school English, theatre, and social studies classes throughout Maryland to provide teaching artist visits to their schools, then bring the high school students to TU’s campus for a live theatre performance.

The TTI program started 10 years ago, and serves 300-600 high school students each semester, with many high school teachers signing up for the program a year in advance because of its’ popularity. 

For the high school students lucky enough to participate in the program, they will get a full Towson University theatre experience. This past year, participating students experienced: 

  • Interactive theatre workshops hosted by TU undergraduate theatre students (one before and one following the attendance of a live performance at TU);
  • A special matinee of a Department of Theatre Arts Production;
  • An after-show discussion with the cast, director and production team following the performance.

Along with these elements, the teachers are provided with a new curriculum guide to help integrate the theatrical experience into their larger curriculum.   

As of fall 2017, the demand for the program was exceeding the ability for Towson University to meet it. That’s why TTI looked to partner with Towson University’s BTU — Partnerships at Work for Greater Baltimore — to help provide a stronger support system between the program and the Maryland schools.

With the help of BTU, the TTI program was able to facilitate better communication with and provide transportation to participating Maryland high schools, develop a new curriculum guide to support high school teachers, and provide consistent program support with dedicated student employees, curriculum presentation, and logistical support. 

In Fall 2017, eight local schools and approximately 300 students participated in TTI, in conjunction with the fall Mainstage production of Pride and Prejudice. Looking ahead, TTI will invite all eight schools, as well as several others that were unable to participate due to scheduling conflicts, to participate in fall 2018, hire additional teaching assistants in order to reach additional partnering schools, and continue to train and mentor TU’s undergraduate theatre majors in the role of teaching artists in order to meet the demands of the expanded program. 

“Thanks to BTU’s support, the Towson Theatre Infusion program was able to bring students to our campus from schools which otherwise would not have been able to participate,” said Susan Rotkovitz, director of the Arts Integration Institute at Towson University. “We were not only able to expand our program this year to include middle schools, we also added to our partners with high school students from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, thus allowing middle and high school students and their teachers from across the state to learn more about themselves and their world through the experience of live theatre.

“It has been a truly transformative experience for all involved and we can now look forward to reconnecting with these and more schools next year,” Rotkovitz added.

TTI is just one of many initiatives that are supported in part through BTU. Through BTU, Towson University faculty, students and staff work working with over 300 organizations across Maryland to address community needs. Learn more about the work being done by the Towson University community through BTU.