Hanna Sacks Students Present Headlines!
Local high school, Hanna Sack Bais Yaakov (HSBY) will present their production Headlines! at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts this coming March. The show is filled with music, high energy dancing and a positive vibe that will leave you humming and tapping to the beat your whole way home. The story, loosely based on the newsboys strike of 1899, focuses on a group of kids and teens who banded together to fight for better working conditions. Their collaborative effort and determined leadership gave them the power to succeed.
What better story to illustrate the entire theater program at HSBY? Every student in the school is given the chance to participate in the performance in some capacity. While most girls prefer to perform onstage, some choose to work behind the scenes. Their roles range from costumes and makeup to scenery, sets, tickets, playbill and publicity. Upperclassmen are able to work in leadership roles as student producers, choreographers and choir leaders. The entire process is designed to promote self-confidence and team building skills. It also allows students to express themselves and excel at something outside their academic studies. Headlines! student producer, Michal Feiler has no regrets about her responsibilities. “This position has given me confidence that I never thought I had.”
Participating in theater allows the girls to gain life skills through experience. The girls are encouraged to think creatively and imaginatively, and individuality is celebrated. Rehearsals build listening, negotiating and communication skills. An initial audience of peers helps the students gain confidence and get over their insecurities. Performance requires improvisation, adaptation and the ability to think quickly on your feet. Ultimately, the performers can act with spontaneity and without self-consciousness.
Rehearsals in particular are a time for HSBY’s students to come together. Their working relationships often develop into long-lasting friendships. At rehearsal, girls bond with their peers and laugh together. It is also a time for the students to learn how to laugh at their own mistakes and share silly and positive thoughts with friends. “The whole school feels like family – everyone cheers each other on,” says student Aniel Goldberg. Besides that, rehearsals give students a chance to express ideas, observations and feelings by making role or character choices. They also provide a chance to learn how to give and take feedback in a constructive way.
HSBY is somewhat unique in the way rehearsals integrate all four high school grade levels. “We find it is beneficial to blend all the students,” says director Chaya Krohn, “Every girl is able to learn from the other and it creates a more socially integrated school. There are no freshies at HSBY, only schoolmates.” Student Tari Davis, who is playing a budding reporter in Headlines!, is thrilled with the “everlasting friendship among all different grade levels. I have made quality friends I would never have met in a different school.”
Behind the scenes roles often help students to define thoughts about possible future careers and professional skills. Graduates have gone on to use their experience with playbill to guide them towards graphic design. Management skills gained through publicity and tickets have aided students in business positions. Student producers are able to apply editing skills towards media-based professions. Several past students have incorporated theater into their lives by founding their own community theater troupes, becoming drama teachers or high school theater producers or directors. Overall, the time management skills gained from balancing this fun program with schoolwork benefits every student in their future endeavors.
Staff members note that the theater program is a growing experience for the girls. “It is amazing to watch them blossom from their first nervous audition to confident young women,” says one teacher. The co-curricular program is not only a learning experience, but fun for the students. Students who struggle in the classroom have an opportunity to shine still within the school setting. “I love seeing the girls grow from auditions to the final performance, and from year to year,” says four-time past producer Hadas Forgy. “I got to see freshmen develop their talents and end up as leaders and incredibly dedicated, enthusiastic, seasoned performers.”
HSBY has been presenting an annual performance to the women and girls of the greater Chicago Jewish community for more than three decades. Importance is placed on ensuring that the show be a family friendly story that can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages. The school has a reputation for upbeat, feel-good shows with a positive message. At the end of every performance, many audience members line up to buy tickets to come back for the next showing. The students are able to feel tremendous pride in the joy they bring to the community, getting a taste of how it benefits the individual to give back. The girls take that important life lesson with them into their future.
“My favorite thing about the HSBY production is that it is so much bigger than the sum of its parts,” says a former producer. “When it all comes together, the students are so excited and encouraging and everyone is just swept up in the glow of WE did this!!” To sum it up, student Esti Davis says, “Amazing experience!” Come out and see it for yourself!
“Headlines!” performances will be Tuesday, March 6 and Wednesday, March 7. Women and girls only. Tickets are available for purchase at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the school 773.338.9222 ext. 11. Advertising is available in the student organized playbill. Distribution reaches close to 1600 people. Send an email to email@example.com.