For more than a century, Harvard’s Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) has provided resources to the local community while it nurtures public-service leaders. The student-run, community-based nonprofit offers more than 80 programs, today serving 10,000 low-income people in Greater Boston.
Below, Lang and Howard share snapshots of their time spent working, learning, and creating with fourth-grade students attending the STAGE program at the Rafael Hernández School in Roxbury.
One of those programs, Student Theater Advancing Growth and Empowerment — STAGE — is dedicated to empowering Boston and Cambridge youth through the performing arts.
STAGE members believe that everyone has a voice, and work to give students the confidence to express it. During the first semester our team worked with students on the fundamentals of theater, exploring plot, characterization, improvisation, and more. The local children got the chance to express themselves and create their own characters and stories.
The teaching strategy shifted in the second semester, applying the skills the students had learned in first semester to create an original show they wrote themselves. The students made up characters, often based on people in their own lives, and complete with backstories, careers, and families. Through improvisation they began to interact with each other as their characters. From there, we created a plot the students were able to call their own.