TNT - Teens 'n' Theatre

Teens N Theatre (TnT) is in temporary hiatus. Check back for updates!

In 2016, CAB Theatre launched Teens N Theatre (TNT). The purpose of TNT is to use theatre as a creative medium to help teens open up dialogues about real life issues that they face. We are writing plays that reflect current struggles a lot of teens in our community face. A small group of Sauk County-based teen actors will perform the play for their peers in communities around South Central Wisconsin. After each performance there will be a teen-led, but professional-supported, talk-back session.

Although the scripts address serious issues, they contain a significant amount of humor and are written to appeal to the current teen generation. Not only do the scripts use spoken words, but also audio recordings, and multimedia projections of text and social media posts to better reflect how teens communicate today. In addition, we plan to design a mobile site where teens can evaluate and share the experience and contribute anonymously to the talk-back sessions in real time.

The first script in this series has been written for nine to eleven teen performers. Between now and the end of summer, the script will be improved with input from teens, adolescent psychologists, and other playwrights and directors through a series of workshops where the script is performed and critiqued. We have begun to form a TNT troupe of more than 20 adolescents. The show will be double or even triple cast in order to involve more youth and to accommodate busy teen schedules. These teen performers and crew will not only receive direction in their theatre skills, but will also be coached on how to handle talk-back sessions and issues that might arise within themselves and with peers following the performances. We plan to schedule a minimum of five performances before the end of 2016.

This project builds upon CAB Theatre’s five years of highly successful Play in a Weekend youth theatre workshops. It expands our youth theatre program in two important ways; working with older teens and with an intentional social impact. Up until now, our youth theatre workshops have been restricted to upper-elementary through middle-school aged kids. Our emphasis has been on building acting skills and confidence in the theatre arts through performing fun and silly originally-written fractured fairytales and classics. A number of these youth have grown out of our Play in a Weekend workshops and have asked to be involved in productions that deal with more poignant topics.

The major premise of this project is that teens are in a very unique and powerful position to help other teens out of crisis situations (much more so than any adult no matter how perceptive, caring, or well trained). We believe that theatre can be a fun and safe way to demonstrate healthy coping mechanisms, empower teens to reach out to each other, and open up critical healing conversations. Wisconsin is currently number three in the nation for adolescent self-harm and number 20 for teen suicide (of which 80% are girls). Reversing these sad statistics will require innovation and quite possibly a little bit of drama. The problems faced by Wisconsin and Sauk County teens are not unique. If TNT is successful, it could have state-wide and even national significance.

In future years, we would like to expand our impact by writing and producing multiple plays that address a variety of topics, recruiting a greater cultural diversity of teens, involving teens more in the playwriting process, making the plays available to other producers, having production troupes based in additional communities, performing at more venues and schools, and putting the plays, testimonies and talk-back content on social media. Topics for future plays might include bullying, body image, rape culture, drugs and alcohol, social anxiety, xenophobia, and suicide ideation.

DONATE to Teens n Theatre today!

Our goal for TNT is to help open up healing conversations about real issues teens are facing today through theatrical productions of originally written works teens perform for other teens. 

Our specific project objectives are the following;

(1) Validation. Teens who see the performance and participate in the talk-back feel like the struggles portrayed are real struggles that they or their friends are facing.

(2) Coping Strategies. Teens who see the performance and participate in the talk-back can cite examples of good and bad coping strategies from the play and from their own lives.

(3) Empowerment. Teens who see the performance and participate in the talk-back can cite at least one way to help another suffering teen; an example of when to intervene, what to say, what to do, and when to involve an adult.

(4) Creative Niche. The teens who perform or help in other ways in the production feel accepted by the troupe, want to continue to participate in future similar efforts, and feel empowered to help their peers. This will help teens who are struggling to form a positive sense of identity.

By the end of 2016 we expect to have the following project outcomes;

· Two or more originally-written scripts dealing with teen struggles for a cast of 6-12
· More than five performances of the first play to teens during 2016 fall semester
· Survey results from teens who see the performances, teens involved in troupe, adolescent psychologists involved in the talk-back sessions, and key partner and school representatives
· A log and summary of comments made during talk-backs (both spoken and digital)
· A project summary report and plan for year two

The State of Wisconsin
If you'd like more information about TNT, or have a teen who might like to be involved, please contact us!