Updated: Jul 31, 2022
Table of Contents
I. My Backstory
II. Purpose of PEAK Backstage
III. What You can Expect from PEAK Backstage
IV. Is this Blog for you?
VI. Get your FREEbie!
I. My Backstory
Welcome to PEAK Backstage. I'm so excited you decided to swing by and get connected. My name is Jessica or as my students call me Mrs. A. I'm the Founder and CEO of PEAK Theatre Arts. A proud Afro-Latina who hails from the Bronx, New York and decided to move to Los Angeles, California in 2018, with my beautiful daughter, to pursue an acting career in television and film, and along the way founded PEAK, met my handsome fiancé Patrick and now, living my best life in Inglewood, CA!
I've been working professionally in theatre as a actress, director, producer, writer for over fourteen years and worked in out of school programs for over seven years on every level from summer camp director to after school program director to a STEM enrichment teacher.
In early 2013, I started an entry level position in an after school program. I worked with school age youth in an underserved community, in St. Louis County. I came with a plethora of theatre experience, but had zero teaching experience, zero experience working in after school programs, and zero experience working with youth. In addition, the school where I started working in after school did not have a theatre arts program.
So, I decided to create one. I saw this as an opportunity to share my passion for theatre as well as provide a space for youth to express their thoughts, feelings, ideas and issues they cared about. I rolled up my sleeves and got to work, but realized I had no idea where to start and had limited resources. My mind, quickly, became flooded with so many questions and soon started to drown in a sea of fear and insecurity.
Jessica, how are you going to start a theatre club? You don't know what you're doing. How are you going to teach kids about theatre? You're not a qualified teacher. Does the two months teaching literacy to preschoolers count? How are you going to get these kids to listen? What plays are you going to do? You've never directed a play. You don't read enough plays. Where are going to get the money to put on these productions? Can these kids even act? Do they know what theatre is? You're no expert. You're an imposter!
Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome? Doubting your skills, questioning your talents, feeling like a fraud. I've been there. You're not alone. At the time, I leaned heavily on my sister, mom and best friend for support and encouragement. Thank God for my tribe to remind me of me of who I am. I am limitless and fully capable of doing anything I set my mind to.
While writing my morning pages, I had a revelation around my imposter sydrome which helped to get rid of it all together. Imposter syndrome is the result of putting yourself at the center of your accomplishments rather than acknowledging God as the source. If God is the source, and our ability to achieve is based on His capacity rather than our own then imposter syndrome does not exist.
I, also, gave myself permission to fail. Failing does not mean you're a failure. Failure is the result of learning something new. When you learn you improve and when you improve you grow. It's all a process. The time and dedication you put into learning a new skill will over time make you an expert. But know you are qualified from the moment you decide to do it.
After overcoming my doubt, I was met with another challenge. Resources. I needed a comprehensive guide to help me get my program off the ground, but could not find one. I needed plays for my black and brown youth, content they could Identify with. I needed them to be the hero in the story. I couldn't find that either. Finally, I needed plays that were 30 minutes or less that did not require so many costumes, props and materials. Yep, you guessed it. No where to be found.
So, I just started to piece together the materials I needed for my program. Countless hours, time and energy gathering resources, materials and researching lesson plans to cultivate a program my youth would enjoy. Now, I'm ready to share with you my experiences, resources, lesson plans and so much more!
II. Purpose of PEAK Backstage
The purpose of this blog is to provide, educators, a comprehensive guide on how to start and sustain a theatre arts club in your school and strategies on how to implement theatre arts into your classroom, who work with predominately black and brown youth, in grades K- 8th.
Now if you're like me, you might have plethora of theatre experience but no experience working with youth or vice versa. But here's what you do have- Passion! Wether it be passion for theatre or working with youth, or both, you show up to work everyday because you understand the assignment. You know it's about making a positive impact and changing lives. With that, you already have everything you need to succeed! You just need a some guidance.
PEAK Backstage will save you time from having to search for lesson plans and research for culturally and historically relevant content for your youth to perform. I take the grunt work off your hands and give you the freedom to do what you do best- TEACH!
I believe theatre arts should be accessible, affordable and easy implement. I'm here to show how it can be done.
III. What Can You Expect from PEAK Backstage?
You can expect to receive ready-to-go lesson plans, classroom management strategies, plays, monologues, short scenes, how to cultivate community support. Best of all, I'll share with you the valuable lessons I learned along the way. I made the mistakes so you don't have to. Sounds good, right?
IV. Is this Blog for You?
If you have little to no background in drama and theatre, then this blog is for you! Why?
Because running a theatre arts program doesn't have to hard. I'm here to share with you how simple it can be. If you feel unqualified because of your lack of experience, but have a strong desire to do this, then you already have everything you need to succeed. Take it from someone with over fourteen years of acting/theatre experience. You got this!
If you have a theatre background but you’re looking for new ways to engage your youth, then this blog is for you! Why?
Because if you're like me and have been teaching drama for a while, your tools tend to get rusty. However, here at PEAK we work hard to stay fresh in the game. We love to put a fresh spin on your old-time favorite theatre games and warm-ups. So stay tuned. I'm confident you'll find something you can use in your program.
If you have minimal resources to put on a theatrical production at your school, community organization, after school program or church then this blog is for you! Why?
If you're working in out of school program, where funding is tight and you're working solo, I will show you how to be resourceful and make the most of everything. You'd be surprised how many community members would be interested in supporting you and extending their resources to you. Just have to know how to engage your community the right way.
If you have a desire to start a drama and theatre arts program, but don’t know where to start, then, this blog is for you! Why?
Because starting anything can be extremely confusing, especially a theatre arts program. Like what? Who? Where? When? How? Been there. Done that. When I first started, I made tons of mistakes, overcame self- doubt and financial hurdles but it was always worth it in the end. Soon, you'll feel the same way. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a beat!
VI. Subscribe to get your FREEbie!
I can not let you go empty handed. Go ahead and subscribe to my blog to receive your FREEbie. I have put together a four week virtual program I know your kids will love- Gadgets, Characters, Commercials, Oh My! I ran this program over the summer via zoom and found I was able to keep my youth engaged for a whole 90 minutes!
Most after school program have one hour of enrichment. So, without sacrificing quality, I adjusted my four week program to 60 minutes. Fun fact: these lessons can be implemented virtual and in person. Win win win!
You'll want to keep this because as I continue to blog, you will see more lesson plans you can add to your tool kit.
Sharing is Caring! I'd love for you to share this article with someone who you think would benefit from it! Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram @PEAKTheatrearts!
Let's get started!