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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Local Police Officers and High School Students Partner to Create a Multimedia Theatrical Production on Issues of Social Justice

Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble

Elizabeth, NJ — Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble, The Office of Youth, and HBO’s Corporate Social Responsibility will implement Walking the Beat: REmixing the Ritual — an on-going arts-in-education residency with students from the Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy from October 18 – December 16, with a community presentation on Saturday, December 17, 2016. The program is made possible with support by Mayor J. Christian Bollwage and Police Director James Cosgrove.

The Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble (EYTE) believes in using arts education as a community engagement and civil service tool. Over the course of three months, The Walking the Beat multi-media project will help to reinforce positive interactions between young people and police officers, ultimately creating a bonding experience amongst participants that will affect future interactions within the community at large. The program model and curriculum will be used in cities across the U.S.

“We’ve been having endless conversations with theater students and artists about what we can do to not remain crippled every morning when waking up to story after story of violence. Students are asking: What can we do to help? To protect our art and our sanity?” says EYTE Founder Theo Perkins. Students (grades 9-12) and a diverse cohort of police officers will actively participate in creating original writing and performances about their neighborhood, local heroes and sheroes, and what their own role can be in community building.

EYTE will work with school administrators to “adopt” classes in order to rehearse during school hours three days a week. Residency sessions will occur in three phases: i). Facilitated Dialogue w/ Officers and students. During this phase, the ensemble will get to know each other ii). Improvisation sessions with EYTE teaching artists. Certain characters and plots created during improvisation sessions will be selected and developed during the rehearsal process; and iii). Creativity think tanks. Participants will work together to collaborate on future community engagement and common ground methods.

“We are witnessing deteriorating communication between people who live and serve within the community .We’re here to offer one method, the arts, where we can see, hear and hold space for each other,” says Program Facilitator and Founding EYTE Teaching Artist Angela Kariotis.

In-class sessions will be facilitated by Angela Kariotis, Theo Perkins, and Lillian Ribeiro. Individual giving and in-kind partnerships have allowed EYTE to sustain its mission while providing quality artistic and community engagements. Please visit the Walking the Beat GoFundMe page to learn how you can help.

EYTE is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible. Follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheaterinElizabeth/

For press and media inquiries, please contact eytensemble@gmail.com or 908-230-7044.


About EYTE
EYTE was founded in 2004 due to the urgent need to expose the city’s youth to contemporary theater, film and its integration with current technology. Since it’s Founding, EYTE has been supported by the City of Elizabeth, Elizabeth Board of Education, and most recently, HBO’s Corporate Social Responsibility unit, allowing students exposure to many of HBO’s Arts Education programs.

EYTE instigates artistic growth through the performing arts for the youth within urban cities in New Jersey. Performers will develop skills in the areas of acting, dancing, film, and spoken word that will serve as the foundation for a life in the arts. Visit www.elizabethyouththeater.com


About the Artists

Theo Perkins (EYTE Founder)- Executive/Artistic Director, was a 2015 honoree for Community Arts and Entertainment by the Union County Urban League Young Professionals. Theo’s producing credits include “Hands to the Sky” (African Movie Academy Award nomination), “Train(ed),” “Damn Wonderful,” and the new web series “HTMAST.” Theo is a 2016 NBCU Star Project Finalist. His TV credits include guest star appearances on “Lie to Me” (Fox), Raising the Bar” (TNT), and “N.C.I.S” (CBS). Broadway: “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat.” Recent theater: “The Golden Dragon” (Boston Court;) “Fences” (International City Theatre), and “The Brothers Size” (Fountain Theatre). He has earned a BA from Morehouse College and a MFA Acting from UCLA’s TFT. He is currently in the Executive Arts Leadership Program at the Univ. of Southern California.

Angela Kariotis – Called “a lithe and vital writer-performer” by The Star-Ledger, Angela Kariotis “possesses the raw energy to light up a small city” heralds The Chicago Reader. But it’s her sly and engaging use of language that makes her work memorable in dynamic performances that are serious and seriously funny. Angela has brought her unique performance style across America and beyond to venues such as The University of California- Los Angeles, Contact Theater in Manchester, UK, Legion Arts in Iowa, the Off-Center in Austin, TX, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and the Hip Hop Theater Festival in New York City. She is winner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Playwriting Fellowship, Tennessee Williams Theater Fellowship, and National Performance Network Creation Fund Award. With its deft balance of narrative, critique, and movement, as well as Angela’s visceral and fluid performance, her work has connected with audiences across the U.S.

Lillian Ribeiro – For over 15 years, Lillian Ribeiro has worked as an activist, organized community-based projects, theatrical productions and film screenings. R ibeiro received her undergraduate theatre degree from Rutgers University, and completed her Master of Arts in Applied Theatre at City University of New York, School of Professional Studies. Currently, she is training as a drama therapist through the North American Drama Therapy Association. She has also trained with La MaMa Umbria International, under Michael Rohd at Sojourn Theatre Company in Chicago, the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Cornerstone Theatre Company, and with Anne Basting at University of Wisconsin’s Create/Change: Transforming Care for Elders Through Creative Engagement. She has worked with Arts Horizons, Montclair State University, Montclair Art Museum, Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble, Roots and Branches Theater, Newark Senior Citizen Centers, Cornell Hall Care Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Canterbury at Cedar Grove, Catholic Charities Dioceses of Metuchen, Women Aware, Inc., and YWCA Union County.


Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble