Pioneer High School has been selected as one of 22 high schools across the country present the regional premiere of Prospect High: Brooklyn.
Written by Daniel Robert Sullivan and a team of New York City teenagers, “Prospect High: Brooklyn” was developed in partnership with Education at Roundabout and the Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowships.
By this May, the play will have its world premiere in 22 high school productions across the country.
The Pioneer Theatre Guild will perform the play at Pioneer High School on Jan. 29 and 30 at 7:30 p.m., Jan. 31 at 2 p.m.; and Feb. 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. A special talkback will be held after the January 31st performance.
This regional world premiere production is directed by University of Michigan Professor of Theatre and Drama Daniel Cantor. The associate director is University of Michigan student, Hector Flores Komatsu.
“The Pioneer Theater Guild cast of Prospect High: Brooklyn has been highly engaged by the play,” said Cantor, “both by the way it immediately addresses issues they have first-hand experience with cutting, trans acceptance, bullying, home life stresses, racism, and in the ways in which the play has them reaching to bridge a divide between their own experience and aspects of the urban high school experience they’re less familiar with.”
He said discussions during rehearsal have been personal and robust.
While Ann Arbor doesn’t quite match the demographics of the neighborhood in which “Prospect High: Brooklyn” is based, it is still a diverse city, he said, noting that the cast has been gratified to be part of an ensemble that includes students that are African-American, Latino-American, Asian-American, White-American, Multiracial, on exchange from Nigeria, and of varying sexual orientations and gender identities.
“We are experiencing first hand the dynamism of diversity,” he said. “Finally, the play’s open format has also been an opportunity for agency and creativity for the cast, allowing them to incorporate live instrumentation, theatrical movement, and dance.”
Conceived by Daniel Robert Sullivan and co-written by a team of New York City teenagers, the play focuses on four intelligent, highly charged students and one seriously apathetic teacher. Prospect High: Brooklyn was created with the intent of offering a new collection of serious, true-to-life material for teenage actors. The play addresses themes of apathy, revenge, deep friendship, trans acceptance, casual racism, self-harm, and the power of both good and bad advice from teachers.
“The National New Play Network introduced the concept of a rolling world premiere in 1998,” notes creator Daniel Robert Sullivan, “and I’ve always thought it would be great to offer that kind of arrangement to high schools. There is so much energy and power in teenage theatre-makers, but that positive force is often felt only locally. By introducing this fierce new play to the nation’s high schools in a coordinated way, Roundabout is not only promoting the play with positive publicity, but the schools themselves. After much research, we chose 22 of the boldest high school theatre departments from across the country and can use this first-ever high school rolling world premier to recognize them and expose their power at a national level.”
Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students, seniors and staff. Call 734-994-2120 for more information.