Six high school students from Greater Boston will take to American Repertory Theater’s (A.R.T) Oberon stage this weekend to perform “Proclamation 7: Freedom Acts,” a play written by and starring them, with a little inspiration from the Declaration of Independence.
The students are the seventh cohort of the Proclamation Project, part of A.R.T.’s Education and Engagement arm, whose mission, Director Brenna Nicely said, is to “empower youth to voice their own values with professional guidance.”
The Proclamation Project evolved from the National Civil War Project, a series of events created in 2013 in remembrance of the Civil War, with influence from former Harvard President Drew Faust, herself a historian of the Civil War. The spinoff Proclamation Project’s core idea was to create an annual production based each year on a different national document prompting discussion and inspiring script-writing; the first year was the Emancipation Proclamation. This year, the Declaration of Independence has been under the participants’ microscope, shaping and guiding their creative decisions.
Writing, learning, listening, and acting, the performers have been preparing “Freedom Acts” for the past eight weeks. I sat down with four of the performers, Dany Santana, Jada Saint-Louis, Artemis Wheelock, and Nadia Hopkins, after one of their evening rehearsals.
As they chatted among themselves and stretched out on chairs in the middle of the rehearsal room, it was obvious that the chemistry exists both on- and offstage. “We’ve created such a bond,” Santana said. “This is the favorite part of my week,” Saint-Louis added.