The America Project is a devised piece of theatre that will be presented in Louisville, Kentucky and at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland by the 44 student artists who created it. The premise is this, as Americans, who have we been and who are we now? Through a collage of songs, scenes, and verbatim text, we explore our identity as a nation and attempt to answer, “Where do we go from here?” We are in the process of discovering that governance is not a game and that our choices matter. We share a national culture, we have more than one language, we are diverse in racial, ethnic and religious terms, yet we are united in pledging allegiance to a flag that represents us all. We are complex, we are imperfect, we are passionate, we are the citizens of the United States.
In 1994, a group of high school and college drama professionals recognized the need for an international forum where outstanding high school performers could showcase their talent and gain valuable experience. The result was the creation of the American High School Theatre Festival (AHSTF), which takes place every summer in Edinburgh, Scotland. This one-of-a-kind opportunity allows high school students to perform in the world’s largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe! The American High School Theatre Festival runs in conjunction with the world-renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Top high school programs are nominated and must apply to participate.
The project provides a once-in-a-lifetime writing and performance opportunity for these talented student artists. Once invited, the student artists elected to devise and write the original work, The America Project, as their entry in the Festival. Parents and teachers made the commitment that any interested student would be able to participate, regardless of their ability to pay for the trip.
Fundraising by the parent group begin in earnest in November 2015 and as of April of 2017, more than $60,000 has been raised for the trip for the 44 participants. The request of Arts Match is to serve as a platform to assist with donations for the trip for the 17% of participants who are living at or below the federal poverty level. The cost of the trip including performance fees, travel and housing is $6,700 per student.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a unique and exciting event. Every year for three weeks, Scotland’s majestic capital is transformed into a magical, unpredictable, and thrilling world. The talented student artists at the Youth Performing Arts School need meaningful, professional theatre performance experiences during their training. Each student has dedicated themselves to a career in the performing arts. Fringe is the ultimate training experience for these students. In 1947, the Edinburgh International Festival was formed as an event to promote peace and unity in the world after World War II. Eight uninvited theatre companies traveled to the Festival and participated on its ‘fringes’. These companies attracted so much attention and enthusiasm that a new festival was born, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe! Today, with nearly 3,000 productions, 40,000 performances and thousands of performers from across the globe, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest performance arts festival in the world! The students will have the chance to not only perform but also to see dozens of performances.