Reach for the stars

52nd Street Project visits Block Island
Thu, 08/01/2019 - 4:15pm
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There was singing. There was dancing. There was “reaching for the stars,” sort of.

On a beautiful summer day, the 52nd Street Project delighted the crowd assembled at Carl Kaufmann’s house on Beacon Hill with live theater consisting of some show-stopping vignettes featuring the acting, singing and dancing skills of 10 inner city youths.

The children, ages 10 to 12, who stayed with host families on the island during their visit, performed in 10 short one-act plays called “Watch This: Ten Time Pieces — the 2019 Block Island One-on-Ones.” Adult playwrights write the musical theatre-style one-acts, which are typically two-character plays. Some of the playwrights also perform, singing and dancing with the kids.

Carol Ochs, Executive Director of the 52nd Street Project, told The Times that the organization has made visiting Block Island an annual thing since the 80s. “The first thing the kids learn how to do is write a play,” she said, and then they perform it. The kids spend some of their time on the island with their host families, which includes going to the beach, among other things.

The organization is based in Hell’s Kitchen on 52nd Street in New York City, where it is home to its own 150-seat theatre called the Five Angels Theatre. Natalie Hirsh is the nonprofit organization’s artistic director.

According to its website, the community-based arts organization brings kids together from Hell’s Kitchen, “starting at age ten and lasting through their teens, with theater professionals to create original theater offered free to the general public.” It notes that the 52nd Street Project’s is designed to “build on the core experience of accomplishment and collaboration,” and foster “a sense of inclusion in a place where the children belong and where their creative work is the driving force.”

(See a video about the 52nd Street Project on our website and our Facebook page.)

Learn more about the 52nd Street Project at: www.52project.org.