Dramatic events are absolutely fantastic for reaching out into the community, fundraising, raising awareness for various causes, and having a great time while you’re at it. If your school has a requirement of community service hours in order for your students to graduate, it’s a great way for students to obtain those hours – or to add some volunteering experience to their resumes.
Here are some ideas for your students to get their creative and altruistic juices flowing. Many of these ideas will require some sort of performance aspect. This might be a great way to incorporate classroom work, devised performances, or scenes/songs from rehearsals of your current show. Adding a community service aspect prior to their final performances will give students some additional fire to get their projects completed and polished, while giving them valuable performance experience at the same time!
Get excited to give back!
- Visit a local retirement home or hospital and provide entertainment for the residents/patients.
- Lead a drama class or activity for a primary school, Brownies/Scouts group, Boys & Girls club, or other local youth group.
- Select a favourite charity to donate a portion of ticket sales to from an upcoming performance of your show.
- Create and perform a piece of work (such as a group scene or a series of monologues) that addresses a current issue that is important to your students (such as bullying, students’ rights, self-confidence, body issues – the list is endless).
- Host a coffeehouse evening at your school for students to sign up for and perform a piece of their choice – such as a song, monologue, or poem – with the admission fees being donated to a selected charity. If you wish, all pieces could relate to a particular theme. This also gives students the chance to volunteer in various capacities, including sound and lighting, publicity, box office, and hosting.
- For environmentally-focused students, figure out a way to create a low-impact performance – perhaps performed outside in natural light, with costumes and props made from repurposed items and music performed on acoustic instruments.
- Have students research plays and musicals that relate to current events or social issues. How could one of those plays be used as a jumping-off point for devising a new piece of theatre on the same topic, an outreach opportunity, or a fundraising venture?
- Volunteer to help with various technical or backstage roles for an elementary school production, such as costumes, props, backstage supervision, or operating sound and lights.
- Look into local opportunities where students’ performance or technical skills could be used to give back, such as children’s fun fairs, library reading programs, fringe festivals, or seasonal community events (such as a Halloween haunted house).
- Research local historical events, create a theatrical piece from them, and present it as part of a heritage event or town celebration.
This is only a handful of the interesting outreach ideas that students could employ for their community service projects. Use the included worksheet and Reflection to help students brainstorm and organize their ideas for a theatrical community service project.Click here for the free worksheet and Reflection!
Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. She blogs at www.kerryhishon.com.
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