1812 Outreach is a unique theatre-education program that uses comedy’s often overlooked power to empower public school students in the Philadelphia community.
Winner of the 2012 George Bartol Arts Education Award, 1812 Outreach is an in-school arts program for students at South Philadelphia High School, Benjamin Franklin High School, and at the Widener Memorial School for Children with Disabilities. Provided at no cost to the schools, the program supplements the theatre and the life skills curriculum at Widener and South Philadelphia, while our Teaching Artists at Ben Franklin work with ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. All students learn the basics of theatre: playwriting, acting, directing, production, and how to incorporate new multi-media technology.
These students are some of our community’s most vulnerable and most challenged youth, with limited or no access to the arts. 1812 Outreach opens up the power of communication and expression for students through the art of comedy and theatre, giving them a new perspective on how to learn and connect with their communities, their education, and themselves. By using theatre as a tool to unlock, create, and present story, these students find the skills and courage within themselves to live their own story with intelligence, purpose, and wonder.
1812 Outreach and our partner schools guide these students to discover the power of the arts, and, specifically, the power of theatre and laughter to open their minds, change their perspectives, and introduce them to new ways of learning.
What teachers are saying about 1812 Outreach
“Thank you so very much for the wonderful theatre classes you gave to the students all year. They really appreciated the 1812 time and the production was a huge success. It was such a rewarding experience, one that the kids will always remember. The show was so ‘them’.” -Patty Emore, host teacher at The Widener School
"Today as I took a walk through the local Walgreens, one of my students approached me, saying, 'Are we having Drama Club this Thursday?' When I first began teaching at South Philadelphia High School, the school had no Drama Club, and the vast majority of students attending had never seen a play, let alone performed in one. I am immensely grateful to 1812's Educational Outreach program for the wealth of opportunities they have provided to our students. Their presence in the classroom as teaching artists offer our students access to the world of arts that they are not only lacking in school, but in their lives as well. Whether seeing a live performance for the first time, or experiencing the thrill of being on stage, students involved with 1812's Educational Outreach have expressed that these moments have been some of the highlights of their lives! Parents have taken a greater interest in their child's education through the work of 1812; the pride the students show in their work is reflected in the faces of the parents who are seeing for the first time their child be excited about school.
South Philadelphia High School is recognized as a 'high-need' school, but we all feel tremendously fortunate for the opportunities provided by 1812--opportunities that more and more of our students are taking full advantage of.
—Mr. Michael Southerton, Teacher at South Philadelphia High School
“1812 Outreach made magic happen last year. Your generosity of time and talents made opportunities for excellent performance and self-expression that would never have happened otherwise. … The Work you did has provided a reference point for other creative projects.”
—Darcy Luetzow, Executive Director of TreeHouse Books
What Students are saying about 1812 Outreach
“While taking part in this program, I learned that I can do anything and exceed my expectations. At first, I was afraid to act but then I got through my fears and reached my goals and aspirations”
—Carin, 11th grade South Philly High Student
“I loved performing in 1812 Outreach! This has been the best day of my life…so far!”
—Tashirah, 10th grade South Philly High Student after performing an original play at Barnes and Nobles Bookstore.