I submitted this short article to examiner.com, nominating TeCo Theatre’s Artistic Director Teresa Wash for their national “America Inspired” contest in honor of her dedication to theatre for disadvantaged youth. If the article receives enough “hits”, Teresa and Teco Theatrical Productions could win up to $40,000 to expand and support programming. Please visit the link on examiner.com and share the article through social media and with your friends and contacts. Support theatre that advocates for tolerance, understanding and the betterment of all. Have a blessed holiday. AB
It takes a village to raise a child? Sometimes it takes a creative artist with vision to reclaim one. When playwright Teresa Wash turned an Oak Cliff warehouse into a first class theatre, TeCo Theatrical Productions, in 2001, she started something special for her community. TeCo serves over 15,000 adults and children yearly via multi-cultural, educational programming.
Professional theatrical expression flourishes; Oak Cliff’s citizens find engagement in productive ways. One way is TeCo’s T-an-T Apprenticeship Program, which enables troubled youth to explore positive life paths in producing and performing plays.
Wash started the T-an-T (Teens and Theatre) Apprenticeship Program in 2008, as an after school program for latchkey youth. Over four months teens work with seasoned theatre professionals in mounting a stage production. What’s unusual for an after school program? T-An-T includes youth from the Dallas County Juvenile Department and Volunteers of North Texas Truancy Program. “These kids are tremendously impacted,” says Wash. “They become engaged and find talents they didn’t know they have.” Wash visits the Volunteer Center of North Texas to chat with teens that juvenile court sends there for community service activities to work off truancy raps. High school students with ten or more unexcused absences go to juvenile court and can face fines and fees up to $600. If they have fewer than nine unexcused absences, they can repair their records with twenty-four hours’ worth of community service. Wash and many teens’ parents find encouragement when the required twenty-four service hours pass and many youth participants choose to finish their apprenticeship in the production voluntarily, a commitment of nearly eighty hours. “I see tremendous attitude adjustment, tremendous progress with these kids,” Wash exclaims. “Theater teaches self-confidence, conflict resolution, decision-making processes and how to apply critical thinking.”
She witnessed program results in action earlier this year. Normally the City of Dallas funds the program. Wash learned in January that the city might not, due to budget cuts. She brought the apprenticeship teens to City Hall to appeal. Each one spoke eloquently and passionately about the program’s benefits, personally and to the whole community. Dallas philanthropist/ businessman Trammell Crow found the teens’ “performance” so inspiring he offered financial support.
In 2012, TeCo’s T-an-T Apprenticeship Program will present Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. It takes vision to maintain a village’s health. TeCo’s Teresa Wash’s dedicated vision provides vital rehabilitation to her community’s troubled youth.
To learn more about TeCo Theatrical Productions’ programming and performances, visit www.tecotheatre.org