2010-05-07 / Community

Rockaway Theatre Company Hosts Several School Groups

On Wednesday, April 28, two buses and one minivan filled with students from several New York City high schools, arrived at the Post Theater in Fort Tilden for a special 10 a.m. performance of the drama “The Rabbit Hole” written by David Lindsay- Abaire. The theatre and drama classes from Leon M. Goldstein High School in Brooklyn, Grover Cleveland High School in Queens and the PS 259 Inclusion Program at Beach Channel High School were all treated to a special free performance of the acclaimed production, which closed two weeks ago.

The program began with a few introductory statements from the play’s director, Frank Caiati. The students were rapt in silence during the 90 minute production. The subject matter is extremely dramatic, exploring the ways we deal with grief, both individually and as families. Many of the more than 60 students and their chaperones appeared to be deeply touched. The applause level signified appreciation of the excellent level of performance achieved by the five wonderful actors in the ensemble cast.

At the conclusion of the performance the actors came out on the set and participated in a Q and A with audience members. Students posed some interesting questions to the actors, including how they prepared for their roles. The students also made some insightful observations about the actors’ craft. Several of the actors indicated that fielding these questions made them reconsider their own acting techniques. The exercise proved enlightening for both the inquiring minds and the responding minds.

By noon the buses were already headed back to their respective destinations. Victoria Sotile, drama teacher at Goldstein H.S., was delighted that her students had the opportunity to see a piece of drama performed on the stage. “It is important for theatre students to actually experience live theatre. Plays are written to be performed,” said Sotille. “Unfortunately, due to timing and travel constraints, along with high cost of theater tickets, students really do not see very much professional theatre even though they reside here in New York City. Today’s trip will prove to be an effective teaching tool as we examine this play further in the classroom,” Sotile continued.

Mirit Jakob, drama teacher at Cleveland High School, echoed these sentiments and stated that she had already arranged for some very special classroom follow-up activities. Director Frank Caiati, who also teaches the adult acting workshop at the Rockaway Theatre Company, had accepted an invitation to visit Cleveland High School and work with the students on their school theatre production. The first of these workshops at Cleveland took place on Monday, May 3.

RTC Artistic Director John Gilleece was on hand for the event and was delighted that the special performance could be arranged. He made the following statement: “It has long been our desire to expose students to the wonder of live theater. Unfortunately, our sets and props are not really portable, so it is difficult to move a major production from its original venue. In addition, most casts and crews are usually working at their regular jobs during school hours so the scheduling of events such as this is extremely difficult. I would like to sincerely thank Director Frank Caiati for his dedication to seeing this project come about and for persuading his entire cast and technical team to be available on a Wednesday morning enabling our young guests to experience the same production as our regular audience sees. Mr. Caiati’s willingness to donate his personal time and energy in working with the students at their home schools is a valuable component of the program. It was a pleasure for everyone here at the Rockaway Theatre Company to provide an opportunity for students to see a live theatrical production, free of charge, and we hope we are able to provide many more educational opportunities in the future.”

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