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Creative partnership between Alliance Theatre, Boys & Girls Clubs pivots

When Atlanta poet Theresa Davis walked into the Joseph B. Whitehead Memorial Boys & Girls Club on Lakewood Avenue to teach a six-week theater workshop in the fall of 2018, she had no idea a mutiny was in the works.

A retired middle school teacher and teaching artist for the Alliance Theatre, she had seen her share of adolescent angst, but this time was different. She was under the impression the middle-grade students wanted her to be there, but that was far from true. Upon her arrival, the club director told her the students consciously planned not to participate in hopes that she wouldn’t come back. They were skeptical about what a professional artist could offer them, and Davis knew she had to sell them on the idea.

After two apathetic sessions, Davis finally told them, “I get paid to be here whether we do anything or not, so tell me what you want to get out of this experience.”

The students huddled. After negotiating among themselves, they told her they wanted to write a song and shoot a music video. Whitehead, like most Boys & Girls Clubs in Atlanta, has recording equipment, so making their dream a reality wasn't so far-fetched.

Davis led the students through some writing exercises and combined their poems into a song. The result was a catchy tune called “Everyday.” Featuring a variety of kids’ voices, the song reflects on a day-in-the life of being in middle school, from waking up in the morning to being grateful the household bills are paid. Just shy of two minutes, the video shows the middle school students striking poses, swinging and generally embracing a sunny day on the playground.

“Watching their faces when their video was playing, knowing that they have a finished product, that they were proud of themselves, I was in tears, the instructors were in tears,” said Davis. “We forget the pressure, stress and anxiety we had in middle school. Middle school is take-no-prisoners. For them to be a part of something that instills self-pride and just be in the moment is the bomb.”

Read full article at Atlanta Journal-Constitution


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