Minneapolis, Minn. – Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) presents the Crossing Bridges Festival, the culminating event of CTC’s signature education program Neighborhood Bridges on May 14, 15, 21, and 22, 2019. This festival consists of students in 25 classrooms from 11 schools performing captivating stories that have been written solely by the students. Students choose a story from the Bridges curriculum, analyze it and then reimagine the story through their own perspective. They then create their own costumes and scenery that are unique to this interpretation of the story, and perform it on CTC’s UnitedHealth Group Stage.
“We are thrilled to celebrate 20 years of this nationally celebrated program that has inspired thousands of young people in our community and across the nation,” stated CTC Artistic Director Peter C. Brosius. “Jack Zipes’ visionary leadership in creating and nurturing this program has been instrumental in its development and growth. We are hugely grateful to Jack, the CTC Neighborhood Bridges team, the teaching artists, and the classroom teachers who every day support their students becoming critical thinkers, collaborative learners, and empathetic citizens. This program impacts lives, deepens skills, and enlivens curriculum. We look forward to the next 20 years of working in classrooms with remarkable students and encouraging their development.”
For the past 20 years, Neighborhood Bridges has been empowering young people to become the storytellers of their own lives. This nationally-recognized critical literacy program brings theatre, storytelling, and creative writing into Minnesota public schools throughout five districts, for 27 weeks each year. Every week, hundreds of students use the power of theatre to examine stories through critical literacy—identifying dominant cultural values, challenging biases, and practicing agency to ultimately transform narratives to address social injustices.
“Let hundreds of voices ring!” exclaimed Neighborhood Bridges Co-Founder and University of Minnesota Professor Emeritus, Jack Zipes. “Crossing Bridges is here again with children from 11 schools in the Twin Cities displaying unique talents in plays that they themselves have created. Ever since Peter Brosius and I founded the Neighborhood Bridges program over twenty years ago, hundreds of children have worked year-long with talented teaching artists to develop their skills in writing, drawing, acting, and storytelling. To celebrate their amazing creativity, the children join together with schoolmates from other communities at Children's Theatre Company. What a celebration it is! Let hundreds of voices ring!”
CTC’s Neighborhood Bridges program is the recipient of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art’s Building Bridges grant. This three-year grant is awarded to support educational program efforts to include curriculum centered around the Muslim American experience. Over this three-year period, the program will add 18 stories from the lives of local Somali Muslims to the program’s curriculum by working with multiple partners, schools, families and students in the Somali community. Through this new curriculum, the program hopes to give Muslim students the opportunity to see themselves and their community represented in the classroom, as well as provide non-Muslim students with deeper understanding of the Muslim American experience in the U.S., teaching empathy and challenging their assumptions. An example of this new curriculum can be found here.
“These new stories have proved to us how important it is for students to see themselves reflected in the curriculum,” stated Neighborhood Bridges Program Director, Maria Asp. “The stories have also given teachers a framework to talk about what is happening in our communities. We know that Islamophobia and ‘othering’ is on the rise, but our students are the ones who can counter these hateful narratives. The stories and strategies give them a space to be curious about each other, to celebrate the ways that they are different, and to know that they are capable of making change.”
The Crossing Bridges Festival runs May 14, 15, 21, and 22, 2019 at 6pm on the UnitedHealth Group Stage. Performances are free and open to the public to attend. The program and festival receive major support from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Ciresi Walburn Foundation for Children, 3M Foundation, and Carlson Family Foundation, with additional support from the Charles H. Clay Family Trust, James B. Linsmayer Foundation, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, and Joseph C. and Lillian A. Duke Foundation. Complete information at childrenstheatre.org/NeighborhoodBridges.