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2 0 1 7 / 1 8 S E A S ON E D U C AT I O N A N N U A L R E P O R T



“At the center of the Alley Theatre is our community. And at the center of our community is our Theatre.” The arts are often thought of as “affective and expressive”— not “academic or cognitive.” Amid growing concern that American students are falling behind their international counterparts, the Alley Theatre is on the front lines demonstrating how these “soft skills” also positively increase student achievement. Research proves that non-cognitive and cognitive skills play equal parts in successful learning. Not often gained by “sitting and getting” lessons, they are built by repeated rigorous practice: the very stuff of theatre arts. The positive feedback loops created by providing the highest quality arts experiences, arts integration, and arts instruction increases joy and school attendance, improves classroom engagement, increases feelings of social belonging and support, and builds confidence, pride, and a sense of self-efficacy—all factors necessary to create the likelihood of engaged, thoughtful, and successful individuals. And in the case of arts integration, it boosts test scores as well! At the center of the Alley Theatre is our community. And at the center of our community is our theatre, illustrating the treasured stories to inspire openhearted community dialogues: spinning the metaphors that will help build a thriving city. Please enjoy reading about our accomplishments in, for, and with our community. We started the year with Hurricane Harvey. It was a historic year for all of us, but we are proud to say that despite it all, the show did go on; in classrooms, professional development sessions, shelters, community centers, and cultural institutions, as well as on our own stages. Sincerely,

Mary Sutton

Photos by Christopher Diaz and Rachel Wagner.


Season Sponsor

Official Hotel of Alley Theatre

Official Airline of Alley Theatre

Education and Community Engagement Every year, the Alley’s Education and Community Engagement (ECE) programming equips students and teachers with a creative, competitive edge by delivering high-quality, school-based theatre programs that enhance collaboration and communication skills, critical thinking, and expand the imagination. ECE programs strive to improve literacy skills, spark intellectual curiosity, celebrate community diversity and cultural heritage, and foster personal growth. By using theatre to open the minds and imaginations of Houston students, ECE programs provide the skills they need for a bright future. Through K-12 residencies, partnerships, and student matinees, the Alley enhances and invigorates the public school curriculum, providing all students, but particularly, disadvantaged and at-risk youth with new opportunities for self-expression and to build academic and career readiness.


227,105 Contact Hours

82,550 Students

3,347 Teachers


School Districts

2017/18 Education Annual Report


RECESS AT NRG Creating Circles Of Safety At NRG Center Shelter In response to the needs of our community days after Hurricane Harvey, Alley Teaching Artists spent their afternoons at the NRG Center shelter where displaced families sought refuge. ECE appreciated this opportunity to bring joy and introduce theatre games involving improvisation, movement, and storytelling to children and families during a traumatic time. Recess at NRG helped emphasize a sense of community through creative play and just plain fun!

ALLEY CHARACTER EDUCATION SERIES This year’s touring season presented overarching themes of coping skills and resilience, which many counselors cited as “refreshing,” “relatable,” and “timely.”


Fall 2017, immediately following Hurricane Harvey






29,388 Students


Resilience is a powerful lesson that schools have focused on over the past year, and it is more relevant in the wake of the storm. Christopher Carnes, Principal at Herrera Elementary noted that in The Last Straw, Oskar’s stressors and problem-solving skills were representative of what students experience, noting that testing was one of the largest issues. He told us, “Students are getting so sick that they are out of school for a week sometimes.” He also quipped that the teachers felt the show was applicable to their own lives, too.

OSKAR VS THINGAMABOB Spring 2018, written in response to Hurricane Harvey

Jake Silbernagel Elementary is in Dickinson ISD, which was one of the hardest hit cities in the Houston area. The local police department reported that more than 7,000 homes and 88 businesses were seriously damaged. In this small town of 20,000 people, at least half of the people were affected. In direct response to the needs of communities like Dickinson, ECE commissioned Oskar vs Thingamabob to elucidate much needed coping strategies to help students dealing with fear, sadness, and anger.



This was not only beneficial for after Harvey, but is applicable to other traumas our students have experienced this year and previously. This was my favorite Oskar show! Loved the story line. Students are able to recall the three strategies Oskar learned to deal with when he was scared, sad, and mad. – Teacher, Metzler Elementary School




28,379 Students

2017/18 Education Annual Report


creativity storytelling


nurture Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere. – Albert Einstein

2017/18 Education Annual Report


ARTS INTEGRATION NETWORK Alley’s Premier Professional Development Program For Teachers


Having launched the Arts Integration Network in partnership with Fort Bend ISD in the summer of 2016, then expanding into Klein ISD in 2017, we have taken a giant step forward in our ability to deliver relevant, highly effective classroom strategies to teachers who are unfamiliar with theatre arts integration. In June 2017, we added 54 faculty members from French Elementary School, an arts integration campus in Klein ISD. Each teacher participated in a one-week intensive arts integration training session. To create in-school arts integration leaders, 10 carried on their work with Alley Master Teaching Artists for an additional 16 hours of in-class mentorship throughout the school year. We continued to mentor 10 teachers from Fort Bend ISD who rave about the effects of arts integration on their teaching and students’ test scores.




Student Contact Hours


Teacher Contact Hours



Arts integration became a part of my classroom atmosphere. The combination of physical learning and higher order thinking helped 91percent of my students pass both Math and Reading STAAR—this demonstrates more growth than I’ve seen in years previously and these kids started lower than any class I’ve taught before. – Ms. Wade, 3rd grade FBISD


This is AMAZING!!! How wonderful. We know our scholars can make a positive change!!! Thank you all for all you do for our scholars and for Blackshear!” – Alicia G. Lewis, Principal, Blackshear Elementary School

A+SEL AT BLACKSHEAR This year, the Alley received an innovation grant from Bridge Up at Menninger to investigate the intersection between academic achievement and Social Emotional Learning (SEL). This led to a successful A+SEL partnership between Blackshear Elementary School. Alley Theatre, Houston Ballet, Houston Symphony, and the University of Houston. With an accountability rating of “improvement required,” Blackshear Elementary School, located in Houston’s Third Ward, started the program with 66 5th graders. By mid-year the A+SEL partnership was providing a select group of 19, the most behaviorally challenged students, with one-on-one attention.

This select group of struggling, at risk youth showed marked improvement in their focus, self-control, comprehension, and willingness to engage fully in the material and with each other. In general, the students were more easily redirected, more communicative, and much calmer. With all of the professionals in the room working together seamlessly, transition time between activities was kept to a minimum –decreasing the amount of distractions. This allowed students to remain engaged in the lessons and put more thought in their responses.

2017/18 Education Annual Report






4,844 Students


Contact Hours

What a terrific experience this has been for my fifth graders. Their work speaks for itself. There is an amazing transformation when students “act” out their ideas, emotions and learning. The shy student suddenly takes risks, as does the cool kid, the handicapped, and the average student—my students will never forget their experience with Staging Stem! – Ms. Seilkop, 5th grade, Sugar Mill ES


STAGING STEM Arts Integration At Work Our leading edge arts integration program continued to enliven learning and engage students to master abstract concepts and boost vocabulary retention. This program has made our deepest impact, allowing students to kinesthetically explore difficult units. The deeper engagement provided for students with different learning styles invariably boosts test scores. We worked with 145 teachers this year, and many have worked with us in previous years —a testament to the program’s positive effect on learning.




Partner Schools

PARTNER SCHOOL PROGRAMS Masterclasses and Expanding Curriculum Our ECE department expanded its multi-residency offerings to new and returning school partners, introduced residencies in Technical Theatre and Social Justice, and revamped our existing Voice residency. The Alley Partnership Program allows students to experience theatre in a new and elevated way and often exposes them to collegiate-level theatre curriculum. When participating in performances, kids were excited and honored to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and often met people they otherwise would have never encountered. Alley Teaching Artists have a strong vernacular of content, bringing irresistible passion and energy into classrooms. Creating opportunities for students to interact with performing professionals, the Alley Partnership program is like having masterclasses with the best consultant teachers in the business.


Contact Hours

3,171 Students


Class Hours

I genuinely feel like the experience I received at the Alley is already amazing (and does not need to be changed!). Everyone did such an amazing job and this theater really values the work of the creative youth. – Elizabeth Cruz, Heights HS Playwright

2017/18 Education Annual Report


He has really opened up verbally since attending this camp. His expressive language has improved. – Play Makers Parent

PLAYMAKERS Unlocking The Talents Of Your Youngest Artists The Alley Play Makers camp tapped into some of the youngest talent the city of Houston has to offer. K-8 students participated in classes full of “cool” theatre games that taught character embodiment, creative movement, voice and diction, storytelling, and collaboration. Play Makers encourages the most timid child to channel creative energy onto the stage, and gives students all the skills they need to express themselves and share their ideas with others.



Contact Hours




Families benefitted from full or partial scholarships for the 2017–18 camps and classes



Training Future Artists

Building A Love For The Arts

The 2017-18 ECE Conservatory program began in the spring with Conservatory Prep Camp, an invaluable audition class in preparation for general Alley Conservatory auditions. The directors create a safe space and support each young artist as they develop their creative voices.

Last year, the Alley provided ten student matinee performances of A Christmas Carol. The online interactive Alley Re-Sourced guide complemented each performance with topics for discussion before attending. During each post-matinee talkback hosted by the actors and production staff, students are able to further their theatrical explorations. The student matinees were fully booked, serving a total of 6,272 students from 90 schools throughout Greater Houston.

In the summer, middle and high school students from different socio-economic backgrounds had the opportunity to work in an abbreviated conservatory, complete with rigorous masterclasses in movement, voice and diction, playmaking, acting, and devised theatre. This program equips the next generation of theatre performers with the necessary tools to apply to the best programs in the county, a necessary stepping stone to enhancing their career trajectory.

This was probably the best first experience of a real play I could’ve ever gotten and I can’t wait to come back to watch more. -St. Anne’s Catholic School Student

2017/18 Education Annual Report


TOURS A Peak Inside The Magic Since our Theatre building renovation in 2015, we have taken on the mission to expose patrons and students to the wonderful building that we call home. Visits to our backstage costume, prop and scenery shops, fly system, trap room, and all the complex machinery that our artisans use, have proven to be a superb entry point into the art of theatre for adults and students alike.

Thank you so very much for helping give my students a look at your spaces and scene shops, as well as the opportunity to hear from members of the Alley staff. Real professional theatre. The kids LOVED it. I think some are even more enthusiastic about it NOW than they were before we came. Can’t beat that. – Rick Higginbotham, White Oak HS

INTERNSHIPS A Set Up Into The Workforce Workforce readiness is one of the Alley Theatre’s priorities. We were pleased to host 33 interns during the 2017-18 school year for a total of 5,045 contact hours. High School as well college students earned hands-on work experience in areas of Education, Development, Marketing, Literary, Stage and Production Management, Lighting, Scenery, and Finance.


2017/18 Education Annual Report



voice 15


2017/18 Education Annual Report


El ZÓCALO Crossing Borders – Encompassing Our Latinx Neighbors The first year of El Zócalo, our city-wide Latinx theatre initiative’s first year brought Misa Fronteriza, a thought-provoking touring show, exploring the meaning of borders, from Monterrey, Mexico into Houston’s Latinx neighborhoods. We opened our doors to enrich and expose our subscribers to the local and international Latinx community, built ongoing openhanded relationships, and added theatrical resources and experiences to the community and our partners: BakerRipley, Talento Biligue De Houston, and Multiculture Education and Counseling through Arts (MECA). The four-month project also implemented nine First Draft personal narrative residencies where community members also shared their stories and helped us investigate life through the lens of border life. The program served over 90 diverse Houston citizens with more than ten hours of bilingual coaching; organized a culminating Story Slam in the Neuhaus Theatre for 15 of the top stories presented in Spanish and English; employed three additional bilingual teaching artists to facilitate residencies and hired one show interpreter for the 253 patrons that used our English translation devices. These activities were a rich learning opportunity and on-ramp for future El Zócalo activities, creating lasting partnerships to link our vibrant Latinx community and the Alley Theatre in many years to come.

It is a privilege to hear other people’s stories because it makes you feel more connected and sympathetic. – Rick Higginbotham, White Oak HS



Community members were served by El Zócalo |Misa Fronteriza activities


Audience members saw Misa Fronteriza in 14 performances across the Houston area at 4 Houston Area Venues: MECA, Talento Bilingüe de Houston, BakerRipley, and Alley Theatre


Community members participated in our 7 Misa Fronteriza outreach opportunities, including talkbacks, a panel discussion, and visits from a Mariachi band at Sam Houston High School and students at TC Rogers Middle School

2017/18 Education Annual Report


Profile for Alley Theatre

Alley Theatre Education 17-18 Annual Report  

Alley Theatre Education 17-18 Annual Report