Theater program brings drama to middle schools

OCEANSIDE — In effort to bring visual and performing arts education back to schools, Oceanside Theatre Company Youth Academy and Oceanside Unified School District are collaborating on a project that began to take shape last April.It started with a meeting between Oceanside Unified School District Superintendent Larry Perondi and the Oceanside Theatre Company Youth Academy Director Deborah Dodaro. Working to bring student involvement to a state-of-the art theater being built on the Oceanside High School campus, Perondi and Dodaro met to brainstorm on how Oceanside Theatre Company could help generate more community and educational interest in theater.

The outcome of this meeting was the OTC Middle School Outreach program. Dodaro is directing and heading this project with the guidance of Bess Bronson, director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction at Oceanside Unified School District, and has chosen the rhythmic, Caribbean musical “Once On This Island” as her first play to take to the middle schools. Presently, Dodaro is in rehearsals with students at Lincoln Middle School. The cast and play will be produced at the Oceanside Theatre Company’s venue Sunshine Brooks Theatre, 217 N. Coast Highway. This will be the first time for many of the middle-school cast members to perform on a real theatre stage with make-up, microphones, costumes, lights and an audience. Next fall, the theater group will take the same musical, sets, costumes and technical team to Oceanside Unified Middle School. Over the next two years, all four Middle Schools: Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Chavez, and Jefferson Middle School will have the opportunity to participate in this theatre experience.

The project was further developed as Bronson shared her experience with a program she headed in a Northern California School District. The concept is to take a full production (with sets, costumes, sound, and performance) and rotate the play to all four Middle Schools in the Oceanside District. It will take four school semesters (two calendar years) to complete the rotation. The students will then perform their play at the Oceanside Theatre Company’s home venue – The Sunshine Brooks Theatre.

Funds generated from each school performance and grants gathered by the Oceanside School District will help support each school’s production costs. Community donations and investments in this project are most desired. In order for Oceanside Theatre Company to continue such generous community outreach programs, the theater company is in much need of grants and investors to help theatre costs.

Lincoln Middle School’s Production of “Once on This Island” will perform at the Sunshine Brooks Theatre March 8-10th, 2 evening performances and 2 matinee performances. Deborah Dodaro – Director; Laurel Burns – Stage Manager; Avery Henderson – Choreographer; Wendy Henderson – Costumer; Daniel Czypinski – Set designer; Paul Canaletti – Lighting designer; Lincoln Middle School Principal – Steve Bessant.

Tickets for “Once on This Island” will be available for purchase mid February at Oceanside Theatre Company’s website at Call 760-433-8900 for more information. Oceanside Theatre Company’s mission is to create professional quality theatre scene for a vibrant and diverse population of Oceanside. OTC strives to reach a wide audience base and encourages and improves artistic growth in the community by producing a broad repertoire of theatre, giving local theatre artists creative opportunities and offering educational theatre and outreach programs.