Actor Theo Perkins is using this platform to provide opportunities as well as fight social injustice between police officers and citizens around the country. He begins first in his own back yard with his foundation,
The Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble (EYTE), The Office of Youth, and HBO’s Corporate Social Responsibility division, recently implemented Walking the Beat: REmixing the Ritual, which is an on-going arts-in-education residency with students from the Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy, in partnership with the local police department. The residency took place from October 18 - December 16 and there was a community presentation on Saturday, December 17, 2016 at 3 p.m. at the Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy in Elizabeth, NJ. The program is made possible with support by Mayor J. Christian Bollwage and Police Director James Cosgrove.
Over the course of three months, The Walking the Beat multi-media project helped to reinforce positive interactions between students (grades 9-12) and a diverse cohort of police officers, ultimately creating a bonding experience amongst participants which will affect future interactions within the community at large. They will actively participate in creating original written pieces and performances about their neighborhood, local heroes and sheroes, and what their role can be in contributing to community building. EYTE is planning to expand their reach and will use this program model and curriculum in other cities across the United States.
“We’ve had endless conversations with theater students and artists about what we can do to not remain crippled every morning when waking up to numerous stories of violence. Students are asking: What can we do to help? To protect our art and our sanity?” says EYTE Founder Theo Perkins.
EYTE worked with school administrators to “adopt” classes in order to rehearse during school hours three days a week. Residency sessions will occur in three phases: i). Facilitated Dialogue w/ Officers and students. During this phase, the ensemble will get to know each other ii). Improvisation sessions with EYTE teaching artists. Certain characters and plots created during improvisation sessions will be selected and developed during the rehearsal process; and iii). Creativity think tanks. Participants will work together to collaborate on future community engagement and common ground methods. In-class sessions will be facilitated by EYTE Co-Founders Angela Kariotis and Theo Perkins and activist and educator Lillian Ribeiro. “We are witnessing deteriorating communication between people who live and serve within the community. We’re here to offer one method, the arts, where we can see, hear and hold space for each other,” says Program Facilitator and Founding EYTE Teaching Artist, Angela Kariotis. Individual giving and in-kind partnerships have allowed EYTE to sustain its mission while providing quality artistic and community engagements.
Walking the Beat is an ongoing arts-in-education residency supported by The Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble, The Office of Youth and HBO. For more information, please visit the Walking the Beat GoFundMe page to learn how you can help. EYTE is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible. You can can also keep up with the news of events on the EYTE Facebook Page.