Students at Fairfax High School will read George Orwell’s “1984,” which will be the basis for “Greenway Reads,” a new program by Greenway Arts Alliance, a nonprofit that supports arts education on the campus.
The program launches on Sept. 16 with an event for students in the Fairfax High School Auditorium from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
On Oct. 21, Greenway Arts Alliance will produce a professional stage adaptation of “1984” which will run for six-weeks at the Greenway Court Theatre. The production is part of Greenway’s “Main Stage Season” and will be open to the public. Students will attend matinee performances of the production which will include post-show discussions with the cast. The production runs through Nov. 19.
The program is the result of a study Greenway conducted with students at Fairfax High School to determine how they would like to get more involved in the arts. The students said they value arts education and wanted to participate in a comprehensive program involving academics and the performing arts.
“Students wanted to engage more in the arts. They wanted more interpretation of the arts,” said Nijeul Porter, director of student programs for Greenways Arts Alliance. “[Students want] interactive approaches to learning using the arts, academics and teaching. We have an opportunity to respond to that by using arts productions.”
Approximately 400 sophomore and junior English and theater students will read the book and see the performance of “1984.” The entire student body is invited to see the production. Greenway Arts Alliance will also produce a study guide for teachers.
“Some teachers are requiring the reading, and some are doing it more leisurely,” Porter said. “We will provide a teaching artist in each class to work with the students and are providing every student a copy of the book.”
Students and members of the public can also join arts-based workshops led by Greenway teaching artists and members of the design and production team on Oct. 20 and Nov. 10. The workshops will allow participants to explore the themes of “1984,” which is about a dystopian society rife with government surveillance and public manipulation by “Big Brother.”
Greenway will also hold “brown paper bag talks” about the book with students and a student engagement contest to promote involvement. Students will receive points for participating in Greenway Reads, and at the end of the program, they will be invited to a special event and prize drawing at which they will reflect on what they learned about “1984.” A field trip will also be held to the West Hollywood Library, which is supporting Greenway Reads.
On Nov. 18, all participating students, teachers and community partners will come together for a final conversation and special activities centered around “1984.” A special keynote speaker to be announced will also discuss the book.
Plans call for the Greenway Reads series to continue, and organizers hope it will lead to more collaboration and involvement in arts programs at the school.
“It just makes sense for Greenway to produce great theater that the Fairfax students have a chance to see on their campus, because in many cases, our productions are the first shows they see,” said Pierson Blaetz, co-artistic director of the Greenway Arts Alliance. “We want to introduce them to great theater so they continue to enjoy theater throughout their lives. We felt like the story of ‘1984,’ for a teenager who is really struggling to find ways to express themselves and may often feel suppressed in terms of expression, would be a good fit. That is ‘1984’ in an essence.”
Blaetz added that the Greenway Arts Alliance will continue to look for ways to build on Greenway Reads and get more students involved in arts programming and the Melrose Trading Post, a weekly marketplace on the campus that helps fund programs at Fairfax High School.
“We are looking for ways to build interest between students and the Trading Post,” Blaetz added. “By involving students in our theater and seeing the show and doing workshops, it gets them interested in other shows.”
General admission performances of “1984” will be on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and student matinees will be on Wednesdays and Fridays at 9:30 a.m. at the Greenway Court Theatre, 544 N. Fairfax Ave. Two preview performances will be on Thursday, Oct. 6 and Friday, Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. General admission is $20; $10 for students. For tickets and information, call (323)655-7679, or email [email protected].