Carnegie Mellon Press Release: October 21, 2003
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Press Release

Contact:
Eric Sloss
412-268-5765

For immediate release:
October 28, 2003

Carnegie Mellon Students Mentor Children In Theatre Project

PITTSBURGH—With mentoring and guidance from Carnegie Mellon University students, seventh- and eighth-graders from Reizenstein Middle School write, produce and perform their own play in a collaborative theatre project called Growing Theatre.

The Growing Theatre project pairs Reizenstein students with Carnegie Mellon mentors in a supportive learning environment in which students broaden their creativity and gain a better understanding of what it takes to make collaboration a success. Carnegie Mellon students expand their personal and professional outlooks by mentoring middle school students through the theatrical process in this community outreach program.

Started three years ago by Anne Mundell and Natalie Baker of the School of Drama in the university's College of Fine Arts, Growing Theatre is an eight-month program open to Carnegie Mellon students in all departments. It counts as a university elective and provides students with credits as well as a unique creative and community-focused experience beneficial to the children of Pittsburgh's inner-city schools. Reizenstein is located in the city's East Liberty neighborhood.

Mundell, director of the Growing Theatre Outreach program, hopes to build partnerships with other universities and local schools to find mentors and students interested in participating in the program. She's seen mentors and students learn and sometimes change as a result of the collaboration.

"Through Carnegie Mellon's mentor role modeling and Reizenstein student experimentation and participation, the program exposes young students to theater through a supportive learning environment that is shared, creative, confident, patient and respectful," Mundell said.

One mentor said, "It's just a matter of finding that one thing that lets you in. I see bonds growing even between the toughest kids and their mentors."

In addition to writing, producing and acting in the final play, the middle school students design the scenery and costumes. They learn the parts of a play that are needed to make it successful. Students are also asked to write a short story about their own lives during the program. This provides an added understanding of what is needed to make a play and a story successful. Mundell and Baker are creating this program to be used as a national model for collaboration and student development.

Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama is the nation's oldest degree-granting theatre program and is one of five schools within the College of Fine Arts. The College of Fine Arts is a community of nationally and internationally recognized artists and professionals organized into five schools: Architecture, Art, Design, Drama and Music, and their associated centers and programs.

Reizenstein students will perform their play "The Firebird and the Gray Wolf" (based on a Russian folktale) this spring in the Purnell Center's Helen Wayne Rauh Studio Theatre on the Carnegie Mellon campus.

For more information on the Growing Theatre, contact Anne Mundell at 412-268-7218 or amundell@andrew.cmu.edu. For more information on the College of Fine Arts, contact Eric Sloss at 412-268-5765 or ecs@andrew.cmu.edu.

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