Sunday, December 11, 2016

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Program Description

The Possibility Project operates year-long programs that bring together vastly diverse groups of youth from the five boroughs of New York City. They go through an intense year long creative process through which they write an original musical whose stories come from their lives and their ideas for a better world, and create Community Action Projects where they take those ideas and act on them to make their city better.

The Possibility Project currently operates three programs in NYC – one open to all youth that meets on Saturdays, one open to all youth that meets two days a week after school, and one open to youth in foster care that meets two days a week after school.

Youth Leadership: The Production Team

The Possibility Project is a youth-led program.  For each program, a group of youth from the previous year’s cast serves as the leadership team.  They are called the Production Team (PT) and are chosen by the previous year’s PT.   The PT acts as a “board of directors” for the program, or “Producers” in theatrical terms.  Six weeks before rehearsals begin, they hire the artistic staff for the year, establish goals and objectives for the coming year, set policies for the year, assist with recruitment, and take part in training sessions to develop their leadership abilities.  Once the program begins, the PT plans weekly rehearsal schedules with the directors, assesses the progress of the program, solves problems, and communicates regularly with cast members.

Selection of Participants

A sizable group of participants are chosen during non-competitive “auditions.” These “auditions” include completing a written survey, as well as engaging in improvisation, simple dancing, and singing. Criteria for participant selection include group diversity, need for the program, availability, willingness to collaborate, and concern for the various issues facing young people today. No one is chosen on the basis of talent or ability.

Trainings: Diversity, Conflict Resolution and Performing Arts

Using a focused diversity and violence prevention curriculum designed by specialists Paul Kivel and Alan Creighton, The Possibility Project combines interactive exercises in diversity and violence prevention with extensive discussions in order to provide a framework for participants to understand the value of diversity and analyze conflict in their own lives and communities.  Participants also undertake extensive training in dance, movement, voice, singing, acting and improvisation.  Youth participate in role-playing and other interactive activities that lead to formal scene development and writing illustrating the root causes of, and potential resolutions to, these conflicts. These scenes and writings are the basis for the full-length original musical that is presented to a broad community.

Show Outlining/Casting

The Production Team (PT) and Artistic Director construct an outline from the raw material of scenes, writings, discussions, and presentations. The outline includes several narratives – all taken from work presented by the cast – with suggestions for music and dance pieces, and is woven together inside a theatrical metaphor that represents the nature of the cast’s work together.

The Artistic Director assigns participants to the roles established in the outline. Like selection of participants, casting is based not on artistic ability, but on the needs of the cast members with respect to the issues addressed in each scene. (No cast member ever acts his or her own story.)

Show Rehearsals

The participants create, write, rehearse, and refine their performance. Each is responsible for creating his/her part in collaboration with the other scene partners. Decision-making is based on consensus and an active dialogue about the issues and messages to be presented, as well as theatrical viability. Artistic excellence is taught in all disciplines and is stressed and striven for in every aspect of the preparations.

Premiere Performances

The Possibility Project’s premiere performance are powerful and inspirational community events where youth, parents, teachers, community leaders, and people from all walks of life gather to witness the culmination of the youths’ efforts. They experience a work of theater that uses a broad spectrum of the performing arts to articulate the reality of young people’s lives in New York City and their vision for positive change.

Community Action Projects and Peer Education

Twice during the program, participants design and execute community action projects in their communities.  Guided by a Youth Council comprised of members of each cast, these dynamic projects address the concerns which are most pressing to our young people.

Throughout the year in rehearsals, the Youth Council also educates participants on the history of activism by presenting the stories of effective young activists.  Additionally, the Youth Council provides participants with opportunities to become engaged in their communities by compiling a calendar of local activism and awareness events organized by various local organizations.


After the premiere, the cast tours the show to local and regional high schools, community centers, and conferences such as the ‘Get Real’ Conference at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College and Renaissance Charter School. The participants also create peer education workshops, participate in leadership training, and serve in many capacities as leaders of the program’s operations.

Because they take a leading role in all elements of the production, the teens develop the interpersonal, communication, analysis, and creative skills needed to foster personal and social change. Participants also continue to provide a consistent support network for conflict resolution for one another. This network provides much-needed ongoing advice and encouragement as the teens attempt to resolve new and unforeseen conflicts in their lives.