Agora - Experiential Learning

Backstage Chicago!

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Students participating in “Backstage Chicago” will explore several literary art forms throughout the city. They will be given several hands-on learning activities throughout the week to enhance their understanding of various literary experiences.

While exploring the historic Chicago theater district students will have an opportunity to travel to the stunning Auditorium Theater, a National Historic Landmark built by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, with endless wall mosaics and murals and the site ofwell-known music performers and dance companies such as the Joffrey Ballet. Later students will attend the Cadillac Theater Broadway musical production of Beauty and the Beast  that premiered more than a decade ago, where it won a Tony and went on to become the eighth longest-running musical in Broadway history. Students will also enjoy the Blue Man's Group, that combines music, technology and comedy to create a form of entertainment that defies categorization and appeals to people of all ages at the Briar Street Theater.

Students will meet professional Chicago stage managers from the Raven Theatre Company that serves the far north communities of Chicago, including Edgewater, Rogers Park and Andersonville. They will learn about the ins and outs of backstage life through Megan Gallaher, the stage manager for the current production for the Bird Feeder and Jen Short who also has experience as a stage manager and backstage light board operator.  Later students will travel to the WIP Theater, Chicago's home for award-winning comedy, drama and kid's shows. Here they will have an opportunity to perform their very own on-stage monologues. 

As students consider how Chicago is important to the movie industry, we will explore the behind-the-scenes work of the Chicago Theater, one of the last remaining movie palaces in the country. Stand on the world famous stage, view the autographed backstage wall, and enjoy the beautiful Baroque interior.   Later students will consider how Chicago contributed to the making of 80 Hollywood movies by traveling to over 30 sites where such blockbusters films as The Dark Knight and The Fugitive to Chicago favorites like Ferris Bueller's Day Off and The Blues Brothers to movie classics like North by Northwest and The Sting were filmed.

We will meet with the production manager of National Public Radio and have opportunities to listen to various NPR shows including “This I Believe” podcast. Students will have the opportunity to write their own “This I Believe” reflection and listen to various podcasts highlighting actors, directors, writers, and recent plays. Afterwards, students will visit the famed Billy Goat Tavern, a popular lunch stop for many Chicago Tribune employees. The Billy Goat Tavern is also the inspiration behind a famous Saturday Night Live comedy sketch.

As part of the culminating project, students will compose a media production highlighting their Chicago adventure and their own creative performances.

Student Requirements: Students will be expected to read or listen to several short stories and essays pertaining to places visited throughout the week. Students will select their own composition to present and will be required to work within a group to complete a final multimedia production that highlights the week’s events.

Faculty: Amy Roberts currently teaches Creative Writing, World Literature, and College Research and Writing at SBPS. She earned a B.A in English from Bryn Mawr College, a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, and M.Ed. from DePaul University. Excited to be exploring Chicago with students, Ms. Roberts looks forward to opening backstage doors to see how ideas are transformed into shows, articles, books, and plays.

Cost: $600 per student

AGORA 2015-2016 Catalog

AGORA Registration (Grades 9-12)