Following productions at 23 high schools across the country, New York City’s Repertory High School for Theatre Arts will present the New York premiere of Prospect High: Brooklyn September 9. The new play was conceived by Jersey Boys star Daniel Robert Sullivan with a team of NYC teenagers, in association with Roundabout Theatre Company and Education at Roundabout.
The production, helmed by teacher and director Robert McIntosh, will then be staged at Roundabout’s Black Box Theatre in the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre September 10 at 2 PM and 7 PM.
The play, which can be performed by a cast of up to 18, is set in a large Brooklyn high school. It was co-written by Sullivan and the team of adolescents over nine months of collaboration, and explores themes of apathy, revenge, friendship, trans acceptance, racism, self-harm and the power of our teachers in giving us good and bad advice. It was awarded semi-finalist status for the 2015 National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Center.
“We began working on Prospect High: Brooklyn last February in our 9th grade Essentials of Acting class,” commented McIntosh in a press statement. “Our entire Freshman class had the opportunity to dig in and work on every scene in the play, and then selected two scenes to develop for in-class performances. In working on this material, I was immediately struck by how well the writers had captured the rhythms and idioms of today’s youth. I have never found a text that I could give to a class and have literally every student immediately be able to give such a fully committed cold reading. The students could tell that this was the rare piece of writing that was actively working to explore their issues and express them in a voice they recognized as their own.
“The issues the play explores are all deeply complex and the play makes no attempt to solve them. What it does very well, I think, is hold a mirror up to our institutions, community and culture, and ask hard questions about who is responsible when young people are driven to make choices that hurt themselves and each other. How do we help each other in times of crisis, and how do we ask for and accept help when we need it? It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with this remarkably talented and dedicated cast and crew. I am floored by the commitment and collaborative spirit of these young artists. Every student involved gave up over a week of summer vacation in order to come to work here at the Roundabout and prepare to tell this story. They believe it is an important story to tell.”
Co-writers of the play are Sullivan, Paul Stoll, Aaliyah Stewart, Isaiah Latimer, Chanique Peart, Deshaye Tingling, Amanda Rodriguez, Jaylin Acosta, Brandy Brown, Azaria Guthrie, Rebecca Powell, Rachel Friedman and Shannon Deep.
Prospect High: Brooklyn was performed at the following high schools:
Indianapolis: Broad Ripple High School (September 2015)
Memphis: Ridgeway High School (November 2015)
Providence: Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts (November 2015)
Syracuse: Corcoran High School (November 2015)
Tallahassee: Leon High School (November 2015)
Boston: Boston Arts Academy (December 2015)
Bridgeport: Central High School (December 2015)
Harrisburg: Capital Area School for the Arts (December 2015) Milwaukee: Milwaukee High School of the Arts (December 2015) Philadelphia: Academy at Palumbo (December 2015)
Ann Arbor: Pioneer High School (January 2016)
Louisville: Youth Performing Arts High School (January 2016)
Minneapolis: Southwest High School (January 2016)
Oklahoma City: Harding Fine Arts Academy (January 2016)
San Jose: Lincoln High School (January 2016)
Chicago: Niles West High School (February 2016)
Dallas: Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy (February 2016)
Philadelphia: Philadelphia School for Creative and Performing Arts (February 2016) Long Island: Long Island High School for the Arts (March 2016)
Washington DC: Benjamin Banneker High School (March 2016)
Austin: McCallum Fine Arts Academy (April 2016)
San Diego: San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (May 2016)
Repertory High School will present Prospect High: Brooklyn September 9 at 7 PM. The show will then be staged September 10 at 2 PM and 7 PM in Roundabout’s Black Box Theatre in the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre, located at 111 West 46th Street, New York. Tickets will be available at the door on a first-come, first-served basis.