— Sept. 2, 2016



We’re only a
month into the school year, but the theater students at Broad Ripple Magnet High
School for the Arts and Humanities are already taking the stage for a variety
of exciting and inspiring projects!


This year’s
fall play is “The Miracle Worker,” an adaptation of the story of Helen Keller.
Rehearsals are well underway, and these young actors have taken responsibility
for many technical aspects of the production as well.BRHS ComedySportz Team


When they
learned the scenic and technical support they usually receive would not be
available this fall due to unforeseen circumstances, the resilient students
immediately took action to ensure their production quality remains high.


“Those students
have stepped up in amazing ways,” said Broad Ripple theatre teacher Tonya
Wilkison. “They sat down right away, read the script, had a production meeting
with me, developed sketches to show me their designs, and did research on
Helen’s original home for some inspiration. They are working so hard
during class … as well as coming in by their own motivation after school to
continue working. They’ve been price checking materials needed, putting
together shopping lists, and reorganizing the scene shop to better suit our
needs. I was so proud of them that one day I just had to step out into the hall
and I cried.” 


Broad Ripple’s
theatre department also has the support of strong community partners including
Indiana Repertory Theatre, Costumes by Margie, and Sarah Gable. If you’d like
to get involved in supporting the technical endeavors of our students, please
contact Tonya Wilkison at wilkistn@myips.org.


“The Miracle
Worker” will run September 15, 16 and 17 at 7 p.m. and September 16 at 3 p.m. Tickets
are $5 for students and $7 for adults. 


There’s also a
lighter side to Broad Ripple’s theatre department, one where comedy is king.


The Broad
Ripple ComedySportz (CSz) team is ready to begin its second season! ComedySportz, Indy’s professional improvisation comedy
troupe, hosts a high school league each year. Weekly practices will begin at
the end of September, where students will have the opportunity to get pointers
from their coach Terrell Woods, a member of ComedySportz’s pro team. This
improv team builds confidence and stage skills for students, but also focuses
on relationship building.


In addition to
forming a closer bond with their own classmates, all Indiana high school teams
meet at ComedySportz on Mass Ave. for five training sessions throughout the
fall for an opportunity to hone their skills and develop relationships with
students at other schools through friendly competition. This wonderful
experience is available to our students at no cost, as Bright Side Dental has
generously sponsored the team fees and T-shirts!


Broad Ripple’s
team is already making an impression on professional improv players across the
country. Two of the young ladies from the team worked at the ComedySportz World
Championships this summer in Indianapolis. As we can see from improv TV and
stage shows, the art form is overwhelmingly practiced by white men; Broad
Ripple’s all black, mostly female team brings some much needed diversity to the
stage, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.


“In an art form
that is dominated by white men there were three black women there [at world
championships] for different parts of the U.S. to play,” said
Wilkison. “My girls were suddenly surrounded by black players from all
over as they gave them advice, gave hugs, and took pictures. It was
beautiful to watch.”


Students in
Wilkison’s advanced acting class are using their interest in improvisation to
build relationships with new groups of students within Broad Ripple.
ImprovAbility is a new program at the school this year, which pairs acting
students with special education students for a unique skill-building
initiative. The social and communication skills needed for success on the
improv stage translate to many other aspects of life, and can have a truly
positive impact on all students. Wilkison was inspired to start this program
after her involvement in Camp Yes And, an improvisation day camp for students
on the autism spectrum.


“I had a
student from Camp Yes And come visit my classroom prior to the first workshop
to talk about what it is like living with autism and how improv has helped
her,” said Wilkison. “It was wonderful all the questions that were asked and the
understanding that my students started to have of their peers in the special
education classes. They began talking about how they could create
opportunities in their community to better serve people with special needs. … They
are now talking to each other in the hallways, when before they had no idea
even where the special education classrooms were.”


Check back soon
for information on ImprovAbility’s first student showcase coming later this