(Photo Credit: Lu Bai)
Students at PS 65’s summer camp in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn showed off their theater and literacy skills to parents, friends, and neighbors in a workshop performance on August 21st. The students wrote the show, titled “Empire State of Mind,” with the help of teaching artist Patricia Runcie-Rice. In the process, they learned about theater-related concepts such as story structure, conflict and resolution, atmosphere, and setting.
The story followed two homesick sisters who had just reluctantly moved to Brooklyn from the Dominican Republic as they were taken on a tour of the city by a cast of characters known as the New York Quartet. The audience was swept along to iconic places such as Union Square, Coney Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, Broadway, Times Square, and beyond. The more they saw, the more the girls grew to love their new home. In the end they joyously proclaimed, “We’re New Yorkers!” as the audience cheered.
Popular musical numbers were adapted to fit each scene and performed by ensembles of students, grouped by age. Selections came from a broad range of musical styles and time periods, from Frank Sinatra’s version of “New York, New York” to Madonna’s “Vogue” to T.I.’s “Swagga Like Us” and more, ending on the titular “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keyes.