Weston Playhouse Theatre Company (Weston, VT)

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Two young actresses sit on stage, casually dressed in blue jeans and tennis shoes, they engage in conversation

Students from Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, Vermont perform a scene from Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as part of the Weston Playhouse Theatre's Page to Stage initiative. Photo courtesy of Weston Playhouse Theatre Company

The Weston Playhouse Theatre Company (WPTC) is Vermont's oldest professional theater. Since 1988, WPTC has operated on a regional theater model, offering professional theater and educational programs to an expanding rural base.

In FY 2004, WPTC received an NEA Challenge America grant of $25,000 to expand its education and outreach programs. The expansion will build on existing programs, increasing support for the Other Stages series, expanding the winter reading program for adults, and launching a new in-school program.

The new initiative, Page to Stage, provided an in-depth, performance-based introduction to the play offered in the annual school matinees to high school students at two Vermont schools. In 2004, the play was Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Windsor High School in Windsor and Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester were chosen from a pool of applicants to participate in Page to Stage.

WPTC made two classroom visits to each school in September, leading a background discussion and offering feedback on the students' performances of scenes from the play. In October, they performed their own interpretations of scenes from the play on WPTC's stage to an audience including parents, teachers, school administrators, and WPTC cast members. Students also attended WPTC's school matinee performances of the play. WPTC artists then returned to the schools in November to discuss and analyze the students and teachers' experiences.

(From the 2004 NEA Annual Report)