Beginning on Friday, March 15, 2013, Green Dot Public Schools and Watts Village Theater Company will combine their talents for the second year in a row to prove how much talent is locked away within their community and how the arts can help to bring the students out of their shells and better their environment. After the success of the 2012 production of Simply Maria or the American Dream by Josefina Lopez, the team decided to raise the stakes and make yet another bold step forward with UNLockeD.
UNLockeD, a brand new stage play that has been co-written by the same students that will be performing it, is a tale based on the fight that took place at Alain Leroy Locke High School that reshaped the community and gave birth to the Green Dot Locke Family of High Schools. Audiences will follow along with the students in UNLockeD, a dance and music incorporated production, which explores the perspectives of the teachers, security, media and the students themselves who were involved in the event. As UNLockeD's Executive Producing Director and Animo Locke Charter High School substitute teacher, Raul Cardona, stated, "the audience will begin to discover the truth around the events that led to the formation of the Locke Family of High Schools and what still needs to be done so that the students and their community can reach the higher ground that they so strive for."
The Animo Watts and Locke High School students are thrilled to have the unique opportunity to perform in a play that they helped to develop themselves. As one of the students and performers, Ferdinand Sigue, stated, "Before this play, I was mostly a sit-at-home 'couch potato' mainly because I had nothing to do with my time. This has helped me push that habit aside. Now, instead of sitting around, I help others out with things such as moving equipment and figuring out problems on-demand."
This program is made possible through the generosity of California Community Foundation's (CCF's) Preparing Achievers for Tomorrow (PAT) initiative. PAT is a five-year, $12 million initiative of the CCF to improve academic achievement, decision-making skills and self-esteem of youth in South Los Angeles through sports, music and recreation. PAT provides grants to nonprofits for direct services for young people and helps strengthen the ability of nonprofits to deliver services over the long-term. PAT was made possible by a generous legacy gift from an anonymous donor whose life was devoted to helping others as a volunteer to nonprofits in Southern California.
Previews for Animo Locke students, faculty and staff will take place on Thursday, March 14, and then performances will open to the public beginning Friday, March 15 at 7pm, with two additional performances Saturday, March 16 at 7pm and Sunday, March 17 at 2pm. The Sunday
performance will feature Audiodescription for the visually impaired, ASL Interpretation for the hearing impaired, and language translation for Spanish speakers. There will also be a moderated talkback after each performance to give audiences the opportunity to ask the cast and crew questions and further discuss the themes and issues identified in the play. Tickets are "pay-what-you-will." For details, visit WVTC's website (www.wattsvillagetheatercompany.org) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/wattsvillage).
Founded in 1996 by actor and Watts community activist Quentin Drew and actor/playwright Lynn Manning as an outgrowth of Cornerstone Theater Company's residency in Watts, Watts Village Theater Company is a multicultural urban company that seeks to inspire its community with an appreciation of all cultures through new works about contemporary social issues. WVTC has been a leader in providing acting and theatrical performance workshops for at-risk youth in Watts and South Los Angeles.
WVTC is proud to have collaborated with Watts Towers Arts Center, LATC, Inside at the Ford and the Matrix Theatre. WVTC's 2003 production of Manning's "Private Battle" won a NAACP Theatre Award. "Up From the Downs" (2005), and "Ochre & Onyx" (2009) received critical acclaim for examining cross-cultural relations between Latinos and African-Americans in Watts.
Pictured: UNLockeD students on a field trip to the Mark Taper Forum August Wilson Monologue Competition on March 4, 2013. Photo credit: David Mack.