Milwaukee Repertory Theater to Partner with James E. Dottke English Language Arts Classes

Milwaukee Repertory Theater to Partner with James E. Dottke English Language Arts Classes
Posted on 09/10/2019
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This fall, the students at James E. Dottke High School will be part of an in-school reading residency program sponsored by the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. The residency consists of 20 visits by a Teaching Artist based on the production of West Side Story which runs from September 17 - October 27, 2019 at the theater.

According to Language Arts teacher, Erin Hanson-Baisley, “I have been looking into getting the Reading Residency Program to Dottke for several years. This past summer, I contacted the Milwaukee Repertory Theater to apply for the program. We were notified a few days after school started that Dottke was approved for the grant program.  We are so excited to start next week!”

The Rep offers an in-school residency to enhance reading and theater skills through interactive lessons. Teaching Artists guide students in transforming the class into an artistic ensemble where students safely explore performance and improvisational activities. Students strengthen key reading comprehension strategies such as text evidence, inference, summarization and prediction through on-their-feet interaction with the text. 

The program integrates text analysis with theatrical performances to foster an emotional connection and purposeful, enduring understanding of the story. Over the last five years, the program has consistently yielded positive results in improving reading comprehension skills.

The Rep’s educational programs are designed to take students beyond the experience of watching a live performance to learning about the art form, making connections to their school curriculum and developing life skills as they immerse themselves in the magic of theater. The student programming provides more than exposure to theater arts. The Rep’s physically active, multisensory teaching approach gives students avenues for deeply engaging with the text.  

“Students learn to analyze and research a play as a theater artist, interpreting the story and creating a specific design element. We’ll talk about topics like set design and costume design,” said Language Arts Teacher, Kellen Lynch. “The program culminates on October 23, 2019 with a full immersion day for students. We will be spending the day there seeing behind the scenes production and then we get to see the musical itself. West Side Story has a timeless message and it will be great for students to see.”