Home Washington Twp. News ‘We are so fortunate’

‘We are so fortunate’

Paper Mill Playhouse exposes township students to theater

Courtesy of Washington Township School District
Washington Township High School students pose in front of the Paper Mill Playhouse in November of 2023, when they attended the world premiere of “The Great Gatsby: A New Musical.”

The Washington Township High School theater program has been accepted into the Paper Mill Playhouse Adopt-A-School-Project for 2024-’28.

And with the upcoming launch of a new Visual and Performing Arts Academy in Washington Township in the new school year, “this adoption will offer extraordinary opportunities for students in the inaugural class of the Theatre Academy, along with many other students involved in the theatre program,” program director John Stephan said.

Founded in 1989, the Adopt-A-School four-phase arts-in-education program partners students from a New Jersey public high schools with Paper Mill, the state theatre located in Millburn, according to a press release from the school district.

“This incredible program will not only provide our students with the opportunity to attend live, professional theatre, but also it will allow our students to interact with some of the greatest professional artists currently working in the business,” Stephan explained.

“We are so fortunate to have received this opportunity, and we are all so excited about the prospects of what this will mean for our students and our theater program here at Washington Township High School.”

The program is broken down into different phases each year. Year one is an observation time, where students are exposed to live theater during matinee performances at the Paper Mill. Prior to each show, students and staff take part in related workshops or seminars.

Over the following three years, students can put what they have observed in year one into practice. In year two, they participate in workshops held by the professionals at Paper Mill in the fall and spring. In year three, a student-theatre company will be formed for students to create an original work guided by artists in residence at Paper Mill. In year four, students will return to the Paper Mill main stage to watch evening shows with a critical eye.

Students take part in a pre-show seminar with leading theatre professionals, guiding the students in writing a critical analysis of their artistic experiences. 

The four phases fall in line with the anticipated time frame of the new visual and Performing Arts Academy in the township, currently in its planning year, according to information on the school district website. It is expected to implement its first cohort of students in 2024-’25, with a full academy implementation in all grade levels by 2027-’28.

The overarching goals of the academy are to provide real-world experiences and develop career readiness; partner with the community, local businesses and area theaters; and deliver township students a targeted and purposeful program to give them a sense of belonging in a supportive environment.

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