(UNION, NJ) -- Premiere Stages, the professional theatre company in residence at Kean University, will return to the Rahway School District in 2018 for two playwriting residencies, graciously funded by the Northfield Bank Foundation. Over the course of seven weeks, 6th grade students in two classrooms at the Cleveland Elementary School and the Roosevelt Elementary School will learn the basics of playwriting and work collaboratively to write original short plays for the stage. Both residencies will culminate in schoolwide assemblies of the student-written monologues and scenes, performed by professional actors.
“Northfield Bank and the Northfield Bank Foundation are proud to support the arts program at Kean University,” stated Angie Tsirkas, Vice President of Northfield Bank. “Northfield believes that the arts foster innovation and are crucial elements to our communities, and we salute the work and dedication of Premiere Stages and Kean University’s arts programming.”
The mission of the Northfield Bank Foundation is to promote charitable purposes within the communities in which Northfield Bank operates: Staten Island, Brooklyn and Central New Jersey. The Foundation focuses its efforts on projects to support education, health and human services, youth programs, affordable housing and other types of community organizations or civic-minded projects that improve quality of life.
The Premiere Play Factory is the educational umbrella for Premiere Stages. The Play Factory was created to make the arts experience available to children throughout central and northern New Jersey, particularly those who are traditionally underrepresented in urban school districts. By offering a diverse selection of innovative arts education programs for young people, Premiere Stages introduces students to the craft of theatre with an eye towards increasing literacy, supporting English language learners, modeling the collaborative process, and encouraging self-expression.
“The partnership between Premiere Stages and the Northfield Bank Foundation continues to be an extremely vital and important collaboration,” stated John J. Wooten, Producing Artistic Director of Premiere Stages. “Support from the Foundation has been instrumental in expanding the arts in Rahway’s public schools and providing the participating students with an essential outlet for creative expression.”
Teacher Jennifer Cirillo, whose 6th Grade Language Arts students participated in an earlier residency funded by Northfield Bank at Roosevelt Elementary this spring, agreed. “This impressive program enabled my students to develop their own characters and to see them come to life,” said Ms. Cirillo. “It was amazing for students to see that what started out as a small idea developed into an entire play. When students were able to watch and listen to professionals read and act out their work, the expressions on their faces were priceless.”
Premiere Stages offers affordable prices, air-conditioned facilities and free parking close to the theatre. Premiere Stages also provides free or discounted tickets to patrons with disabilities. All Premiere Stages facilities are fully accessible spaces, and companion seating is available for patrons with disabilities. Assistive listening devices and large print programs are available at all times; publications in alternate formats are available with advance notice. Please call 908-737-4077 for a list of sign-interpreted, audio-described or open-captioned performances. For more information, please visit Premiere Stages online at www.premierestagesatkean.com.
PHOTO: John J. Wooten, Producing Artistic Director of Premiere Stages at Kean University, accepts a donation from Angie Tsirkas, Vice President of Northfield Bank, in support of two playwriting residencies in the Rahway school district. Photo by Heather Kelley.