Berkshire Theatre Festival’s year-round education program, BTG PLAYS! serves area students from kindergarten through high school. At the heart of BTG PLAYS! is a passionate commitment to bring live theatre and all its inherent excitement and creativity to children in our region.
Since its inception in 1984, the program has reached more than 50,000 students in underserved rural and inner city schools throughout Berkshire Country and environs.
Thanks to Richard Ziter for sponsoring BTG Plays!
It’s like opening a door for imagination and opportunity to come forth.
– Mary Theresa Valleri—4th grade teacher at St. Mary’s School
What I liked about it was getting to act and play games and work together as a team. I had so much fun getting to perform.
— 5th grade student at Kittredge Elementary School — Hinsdale, MA
I really like performing because I got show how far we came with our work. It was fun waiting behind the curtains. It was also pretty exciting to be on stage.
— Student – Richmond Consolidated School — Richmond, MA
This program correlates with the state standards for ELA. Learning how to work cooperatively, projecting one’s speaking voice, collaboration with team mates, writing a play, learning one’s role for recitation all work well with our language arts, as well as social studies curriculum.
— 4th Grade Teacher — Muddy Brook Regional Elementary School — Great Barrington, MA
I loved the BTF program that came to our school. It taught me how to work as an ensemble. It helped my acting abilities, and I loved playing games such as Park Bench and Interpreter. Michael was so much fun and I learned a lot. It also helped me in English class when we did creative writing. It was fun and I am glad BTF came to our school.
— 5th Grade student at St. Mary’s School — Lee, MA
The students who were timid about being in front of the class, now are willing to take a risk. Several students tried out for the school play for the first time.
— Teacher — Richmond Consolidated School – Richmond, MA
BTG PLAYS! School Residency Program—In-School Programming
Through a 14-week creative and collaborative process, students will develop and write their own original one act plays. BTG PLAYS! is designed to enable students with a variety of learning styles to grasp the fundamentals of playwriting by using improvisation as the primary teaching tool to communicate concepts of theatre, literature, writing, and playwriting contained in our student study guide, which is distributed to each student. The study guide includes vocabulary, guided imagery exercises, dialogue examples, and exercises that provide opportunity for students to develop short pieces of writing that become the raw material for each student to use in the creation of a one act play. Classes are led by trained actors and playwrights who encourage students to develop conflict exercises, act out original scenes, and transform their classrooms into creative laboratories for theatre. The program is intended to be a hands-on kinesthetic learning experience that celebrates each young person and the uniqueness of his/her artistic voice. The final weeks of BTG PLAYS! are filled with the excitement generated by the rehearsal and production of staged readings of selected student written plays at each school for parents and peers. All students become actors in the productions. The BTG PLAYS! School Residency Program adheres to the Massachusetts English Language Arts guiding principles.
BTG PLAYS! Touring Performances Offered Throughout the School Year
Beginning in October and running through the school year, BTG’s Artists-in-Residence perform an original play at dozens of venues throughout the region. These well-crafted productions are appropriate for elementary and middle school and are designed to introduce students to the excitement of live theatre. A question and answer session with the actors follows each performance.
BTG PLAYS! After School, allows students with a variety of learning styles to discover the fundamentals of theatre production, acting, and storytelling while exploring a classic myth or fairy tale. The programs are intended to be a hands-on kinesthetic learning experience that celebrates each young person and the uniqueness of his/her artistic voice. The programming is led by trained actors who get the students up on their feet acting out scenes, playing a variety of theatre games and working on voice and movement. Ultimately students learn to trust their own imaginations while learning respect for their fellow peers and how to work in the context of a group. Additionally, some vacation classes and after school classes offer a backstage component. Students are introduced to the basic elements of design of props, costumes and set.