Children's Theatre of Elgin offers virtual Slam Poetry class, starting Aug. 24
As we continue to navigate the global pandemic, parents and students are clamoring for new experiences and ways to connect with friends, old and new.
Children's Theatre of Elgin has answered that call with a variety of online options. Having offered Zoom-based family trivia nights and a virtual "Broadway Summer Camp," the theater group is now producing a 10-week "Slam Poetry" class.
The class, for ages 14-20, will run from Aug. 24 through Oct. 29 ending in a virtual livestream performance. Class will be held primarily via Zoom Monday through Thursday from 6-8 p.m., but students will be split into groups so not all students will be needed on every day.
Taught by Dundee-Crown High School creative writing teacher and Fox Valley Youth Poet Laureate director Angie Miller, this course will truly explore the range of what poetry has to offer those who feel helpless, overwhelmed, or even useless during our current global environment.
"Slam Poetry came about in Chicago in 1989 as a sportslike game. A way to trick people into listening to poetry," explains Instructor Angie Miller. "And it worked! Now, millions of people -- especially youth -- log onto YouTube just to watch poetry videos, or they participate in poetry slams themselves. With this kind of turn out, Slam Poetry has become more than a game for so many people. It's become an opportunity to share your life stories with others in hopes of finding connections and maybe one day building a better, more empathetic world. Who doesn't want to feel accepted for who they truly are? Who doesn't wish the world was a better place for everyone? Poetry can help us envision and reach for that."
The class will lead each student through an exploration of their unique identity and how the world around them impacts their life. Using both poetry and theater exercises, students will find the most powerful ways to express themselves to an audience. On their road to self-discovery, youth will write in their own voices and share the stories most meaningful to who they are. They will learn not only about themselves, but their classmates as well. This will all end in a collective showcase of fresh poetry. A performance for the whole family, each individual will give us a reason to celebrate what multiculturalism truly means and how we all benefit from working together as we write, share, perform, and listen.
Part of this course will be a one-day workshop with Elgin's own poet laureate, Chasity Gunn. Gunn has served as Elgin's poet laureate since January 2019 and serves as a professor at Elgin Community College. Offering a workshop day on revision, students will have an opportunity to learn how to best assess and edit their work, and how that process can lead to a more rewarding artistic experience both for the writer and for the audience.
"We are so excited about this new offering," said Catie Early, producer and CTE president. "The mission of the class is to provide students with an opportunity to create their own original work while understanding the strong social justice component that goes along with slam poetry. Half the cost of participating in our typical fall production and the availability of scholarships makes this program available to a more diverse group of students."
Online registration is now open at bit.ly/cteslampoetry through Aug. 24 The cost is $130 for the 10-week session.
Elgin Community College credit is available for those older than 16. Scholarships are available by emailing email@example.com. No experience is necessary -- just curiosity and enthusiasm.
Children's Theatre of Elgin/Fox Valley Theatre Company is an Illinois 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation in-residence at the Elgin Community College Arts Center. The organization is supported by grants from the EFS Foundation, Palmer Foundation, Grand Victoria Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.