Theatre Residencies for Elementary Schools

We believe participation in the performing arts enlarges young people's repertoire as learners, team members and leaders.

We work with teachers and administrators to custom-fit our programs to complement what's happening in the classroom. All residencies are adjustable in length and numbers of participants. Funding has come from schools/PTO's, local cultural council grants, the Mass Cultural Council STARS program, the Community Foundation of Western MA, Mass Humanities and other sources. New England residencies outside of MA are eligible for NEST funds from the New England Foundation for the Arts.

"Jon and Godeliève have worked in my classroom for the past two years. Their work with my students has been exceptional. They are patient, enthusiastic, prepared and dedicated to the work. Each year they have helped my students to incorporate the dramatic arts into our classwork. I know students looked forward to every visit and it left them more engaged and eager for the rest of our day."

- Margaret Betts, 1st grade teacher, Maple School, Easthampton MA

"This company has developed a proven and innovative way to capture the talents of students of young ages for on-stage participation in musical theater pieces written to address cutting edge issues presented with original scores and beautiful mobile sets and costumes."

- Aranka Matolcsy, Executive Director, Mahoosuc Arts Council
{Read their full recommendation letter}

Sample Residencies

We also welcome teacher requests for new topics

The Weather Friends

A group of weather superheroes (ie, your 3rd or 4th graders) respond to weather situations around the globe. This musical performance is appropriate for the whole school to come and watch and fits well with the current science standards.

Your Town, The Musical

During our successful residency/performance "Mill, Mountain, River: A Child's Eye View of Olde Coleraine" in 2012 with Colrain Central School in Colrain, MA, we developed a dramatic framework and songs that can be adapted to the history of any mill town. Since then, we have continued to develop local history inspired performances for towns around New England that are performed in school and for the public.

“We are incredibly grateful for the hard work and dedication by our students, staff, and the Piti Theatre Company. Opportunities like this help our students learn about the community in a fun and creative way. The creative arts, and plays like this, help to build confidence in our students. I want to extend my sincerest appreciation to everyone who helped support this program -- with their time, commitment, and donations.”

- Lindsay Rodriguez, Hawlemont Regional School principal.

Go to the Your Town page

Read a feature about a school-based "Your Town" residency

Participants in our Bald Eagle program

The Bald Eagle Story

Created in 2016 in response to a teacher's request for a new musical theatre performance about endangered species, the Bald Eagle Story synthesizes 50 years of American natural history through the lens of the bald eagle's decline and dramatic recovery. This residency fits very well with the new Massachusetts science standards by tracking the real evolution of biologists and conservationists work to determine the cause of and remedy for the population decline between the 1940's and 1970's.

"The show was great! I love the songs and the way all the kids were involved in the whole play in multiple roles/parts.  The food chain song and the way the kids acted out the parts was great.  Thank you so much for all your work."

- Mary Sumner, Heath Elementary School PTP on "The Bald Eagle Story"

Participants in our improv club on stage

Improv Club

An afterschool program that can be adapted for in-school use as well, students learn improvisation, public speaking, creativity and teamwork skills while having a great time.

Wendy Somes, a teacher at New Hingham Elementary describes their experience with Improv Club:

One participant, a fourth grader, expressed frustration each week with the peers in her breakout group. She was annoyed that they did not respond to her improv prompts or include all of her ideas in the skits . . . When reading her post-class student survey, we expected to read about her dissatisfaction. Instead, we were blown away by her self-awareness. When asked to tell us what the most important thing she learned in Improv Club was, she cited "how to be friends and not always get what I want. I loved it!" Her learning experience with cooperation and teamwork was exactly what we hoped our students would gain through the program.

Another moment that stands out involved a spectator from our culminating event. A second grader, who was too young to be in the program, told his teacher excitedly "I want to do Improv next year!" This student is one who struggles socially and is not quick to have positive peer relationships. The social skills and confidence embedded in the program would be ideal for this student in future years.

Read an article about the program.

Read more coverage where a journalist describes a public performance.

Children at Sanderson Academy check out a demonstration bee hive

To Bee or Not to Bee

During this residency, students are incorporated into our internationally acclaimed touring production "To Bee or Not to Bee" as bees, farmhands, and townspeople. They sing, dance and act alongside Piti's professional actors while getting a deeper understanding of bees, pollination and the challenges bees are facing in the age of industrial agriculture. This residency can be expanded into a "Bee Week" involving the whole community, opening up the possibility for bee-keeper visits, planting bee gardens, etc. Learn more about "To Bee or Not to Bee" by clicking here.

Dexter and the Dinosaurs

Dexter and the Dinosaurs

Developed in collaboration with Deerfield’s Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, the performance is inspired by the life of Greenfield’s Dexter Marsh who discovered dinosaur tracks before the word dinosaur had been invented in 1835 while laying the sidewalk outside Greenfield’s Town Hall. Mr. Marsh subsequently led a distinguished dual life as a man of all trades and collector of fossils up and down the Connecticut River, eventually establishing one of the world’s first “dinosaur museums” in Greenfield. Students take turns playing Dexter and the people and beings from his world: Edward and Orra White Hitchcock, Dr. James Deane, students from a local school, animals along the Connecticut River, townspeople, and of course . . . dinosaurs.

Rehearsal track from Dexter and the Dinosaurs, "Giant Birds of Greenfield" by Mirin/Ferguson

This is Your Rock

"This is Your Rock" was designed specifically for residencies in elementary schools in response to a 2013 request from 3rd grade teachers for a show about rocks, minerals and geology. Students learn singing and dancing skills while deepening their understanding of the life science curriculum. The show is inspired by the 1950's television show "This is Your Life" and features a television host interviewing Jeff the Rock about his mysterious past punctuated by musical numbers.

Poetry in Motion

This residency combines poems written by students, small groups and classes with movement. Students learn how words suggest movement and vice-versa - they also learn to write inspired by watching their classmates' choreography. Developed with the support of the Easthampton Learning Foundation, "Poetry in Motion" has culminated with the production of a DVD for each student to take home be shown on "All School Theme Night" at the end of the year at Maple Elementary in Easthampton.

Go with the Flow

Combining dance, music and poetry, Go with the Flow was commissioned in 2012 by the Deerfield River Watershed Association. It celebrates the Deerfield River (but can adapted to any river) through a series of simple to moderately complex dance pieces perfect for young people and adults who love to move.

Jonanddinousaursforweb. Peter MacDonald photo

The River Plays

Piti Theatre's first plays designed for the participation of large groups of children and commissioned by the Deerfield River Watershed Association in 2009 and 2010 for Riverfest in Shelburne Falls. These productions explore the natural history and geology of the Connecticut River Watershed through stories, acting and song.

Other school residencies include:

  • Acting/Improvisation
  • Choreography
  • Clowning/Comic Performance
  • Dance (Modern, Ballet)
  • Soapstone carving
  • Storytelling/Solo Performance
  • Playwriting & Screenwriting
  • Writing Funny
  • Writing the 10-Minute Play

What about performances without a residency?

We currently offer "To Bee or Not to Bee", "Elmer and the Elder Tree" and "Innocenzo*" as stand-alone shows with curriculum tie-ins for teachers.

THANK YOU RESIDENCY FUNDERS!

Art Angels of Western MA

Community Foundation of Western MA

Greenfield Education Foundation

Easthampton Learning Foundation

Local Cultural Councils

Massachusetts Cultural Council, STARS Program

Mass Humanities

New England Foundation for the Arts: New England States Touring Program

PTO's

Xeric Foundation

Where We've Offered Programming

ELEMENTARY

Alice B. Beal Magnet School, Springfield MA

Brightwood Elementary, Springfield MA

Buckland Shelburne Elementary, MA

Colrain Central School, MA

Crescent Park Elementary, ME

Guilford Central School, VT

R.K. Finn Ryan Road Elementary School, Florence MA

Sanderson Academy, Ashfield MA

Jackson Street School, Northampton, MA

Mary Walsh Elementary, Springfield MA

MIDDLE

Brattleboro Area Middle School, VT

Greenfield Middle School, MA

HIGH SCHOOL

Austine School for the Deaf, Brattleboro, VT

Boston Arts Academy, MA

Mohawk Trail Regional High School, Shelburne, MA

UNIVERSITY/GRADUATE/OTHER

Boston University

Blazing Star Herbal School, Ashfield, MA

Harvard Business School, Cambridge MA

Karen's Dance Studio, Greenfield, MA

Northampton Center for the Arts, MA

New York University Stern School of Management, NYC

UMASS Amherst

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