Minneapolis, Minn. – Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) presents the Crossing Bridges Festival, the culminating event of CTC’s education program Neighborhood Bridges on May 7, 8, 15 and 16, 2018. This festival involves over 600 students in 24 classrooms from 11 elementary schools performing captivating stories that have been written and adapted solely by the students. Students choose stories 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 their interpretation of the story. The main goal is to motivate students to become the narrators of their own lives.
Co-founded by Peter C. Brosius and Jack Zipes, Neighborhood Bridges is a nationally recognized, 27-week intensive program that teaches students critical literacy skills by teaching them to question power and assumptions in text, embrace complex thinking and multiple perspectives, solve problems as a community and transform dominant narratives.
“Neighborhood Bridges is really about the kids feeling and finding agency,” explains Neighborhood Bridges Program Director and teaching artist Maria Asp. “Once they figure out they have the power to change the story and make it their own, then all the kids in the class explode with ideas. The idea that you can change something and make your own gets inside them. Then, when the students get to step onto the big, UnitedHealth Group stage and watch their idea play out in real time, they come away from the experience empowered and transformed, possibly for the first time in their lives.”
In 2017, CTC was the recipient of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art’s Building Bridges three-year grant for Neighborhood Bridges. The grant will support the program’s efforts to include curriculum centered around the Muslim American experience. Starting this school year through the 2019—2010 school year, Neighborhood Bridges will undergo a major expansion to incorporate 18 stories from the lives of local Somali Muslims into its core curriculum and develop culturally relevant teaching strategies for teachers. It is the program’s hope to provide non-Muslim students with a deeper understanding of the Muslim American experience in the U.S. This year, at least five classrooms will be performing a play based on the stories from this new curriculum.
Children’s Theatre Company Artistic Director and Neighborhood Bridges co-founder Peter C. Brosius stated, “As we finish our 19th year of Neighborhood Bridges, we look back on the amazing successes of the program—growing from one classroom to now 24 classrooms participating in the program, and from being awarded the U.S. Department of Education’s Education Model Development and Dissemination grant in 2005, to receiving the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art’s Building Bridges grant this school year, which has begun to build the bridge between non-Muslim and Muslim students in our schools through empathy, deeper understanding and challenging their assumptions.
Neighborhood Bridges’ Crossing Bridges Festival runs May 7, 8, 15 and 16 at 6pm on the UnitedHealth Group Stage. Performances are free and open to the public to attend. The program and festival are supported by the Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi Foundation for Children, 3M Foundation, Carlson Family Foundation, James B. Linsmayer Foundation, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, and Joseph C. and Lillian A. Duke Foundation.
Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) is the nation’s largest and most acclaimed theatre for young people and serves a multigenerational audience. It creates theatre experiences that educate, challenge, and inspire for nearly 275,000 people annually. CTC is the only theatre focused on young audiences to win the coveted Tony Award® for Outstanding Regional Theatre and is the only theatre in Minnesota to receive three Tony® nominations (for its production of A Year with Frog and Toad). CTC is committed to creating world class productions at the highest level and to developing new works, more than 200 to date, dramatically changing the canon of work for young audiences.
CTC’s engagement and learning programs annually serve more than 85,000 young people and their communities through Theatre Arts Training, student matinees, Neighborhood Bridges, and early childhood arts education programs. ACT One is CTC’s comprehensive platform for access, diversity, and inclusion in our audiences, programs, staff, and board that strives to ensure the theatre is a home for all people, all families, reflective of our community. childrenstheatre.org