Today is the global day of giving known as #GivingTuesday

HOW TO GIVE! ***Exciting update: we have already raised $5,655 toward our $6,683 goal – will you help us raise the additional $1,028?*** Funds donated through Facebook today, beginning at 6am MST, will be matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And Facebook is waiving all fees! Click here to give (and please share it on your Facebook page when given the option at the end of the transaction – you will also have the option to directly share it with your friends)! If you are not a Facebooker you may click here to give. WHY GIVE TO PLAN-B? Since 1991, we have developed and produced unique and socially conscious theatre created by Utah playwrights. We are the only professional theatre company in the United States producing full seasons of new work by local playwrights. We have produced nearly 100 world premieres, including Utah’s first by an African American playwright and first by an Asian American playwright. Locally, our work with local playwrights has garnered Governor’s Leadership in the Arts Award and Salt Lake City’s Mayor’s Artist Award. Nationally, five of our world premieres have been nominated for the American Theatre Critics Association/Steinberg Award for Best New American Play Produced Outside New York, four have enjoyed extended lives in New York and two have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Internationally, we have been recognized the past two seasons with the International Centre for Women Playwrights 50/50 Applause Award for our commitment to gender parity. We are the only professional theatre company in Utah creating new work each season specifically for elementary students. We are also the only professional theatre company in Utah creating new...

#GivingTuesday is November 29

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving. Our goal is to raise $3,000 to support our free education programs by midnight on Tuesday November 29: the Free Elementary School Tour, The Lab and the Script-In-Hand Series (details below). Click here to make your contribution today and receive a free copy of our most recent eBook! FREE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TOUR: The 2010 Census/2013 Addendum found that Utah is home to one of the highest percentages of children under age 18 in the nation (30.9% vs. 23.3%) and the largest average family size (3.14 vs. 2.64). And, as reported by The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah is also home to the lowest per-pupil spending (ranked 51st/70% below the national average) and largest average class size (30% above the national average). It is increasingly difficult, and in many cases impossible, for Utah schools to provide field trips to arts events. Thus the Free Elementary School Tour was created to offer free, professional, in-school performances; expose elementary students to live theatre and encourage pre- and post-show classroom discussion of complex issues. The ultimate goal is greater civic engagement. We are currently the only professional theatre company in Utah touring new work created specifically for elementary students. We reach 15,000 K-6 students at 40+ schools in 7 counties each year – THE EDIBLE COMPLEX by Melissa Leilani Larson concluded its Tour earlier this month. At least one student at each school, on each Tour thus far, has thanked us for giving them their first experience with live theatre. Each Tour also includes at least one public performance and is partially funded by the National Endowment...

Playwright Matthew Ivan Bennett's takeaway from Plan-B's Free Elementary School Tour

Matthew Ivan Bennett’s anti-bullying play DIFFERENT=AMAZING was seen by more than 12,000 students, grades 4-6, between February and October 2014 as part of Plan-B’s Free Elementary School Tour. Davis Arts Council, Good Company Theatre and Art Access partnered on various stages of the tour. In a way, even though we’ve toured the show twice and the piece has been published, the work of DIFFERENT=AMAZING goes on. Following years of false starts, I’m finally allowing myself to write a little fiction—and my character and story is set in the sixth grade. The stack of shakily handwritten letters and pictures we got from elementary kids (when we were researching D=A) turns out to have yanked on a long thread in my extra-large sweater armor. Because of D=A, I’ve remembered things that I’d forgotten. For instance, I used to wear extra layers of clothes as armor. I would literally wear sweaters as armor . . . The last live show I saw was at Bluffdale Elementary in October. I watched actors Tyson Baker and Latoya Rhodes with a half-smiling envy. As they greeted the students, slapping hands and talking Minecraft, I felt so adult. Too adult. Too adult maybe to have written the piece. But when it got underway, and the students were giggling, or quiet, I realized innocence is at least half vulnerability. No matter how much I’ve armored myself, it means something to admit how weak or afraid I once was. Some of my armor, growing up, was words. I protected myself with a big vocabulary and I saw that too as I watched the actors jungle-gym through the show....

Actor Tyson Baker's takeaway from Plan-B's Free Elementary School Tour

Tyson Baker spent most of 2014 performing in Matthew Ivan Bennett’s anti-bullying play DIFFERENT=AMAZING, which was seen by more than 12,000 students, grades 4-6, between February and October 2014 as part of Plan-B’s Free Elementary School Tour. Davis Arts Council, Good Company Theatre and Art Access partnered on various stages of the tour. DIFFERENT=AMAZING was beautiful in its honesty and simplicity. The idea: Advocating anti-bullying in elementary schools. The ingredients: A short, honest, fun kids touring show based on real-life accounts of bullying. A time frame of 40 minutes. Two actors. Two pairs of black All-Star Converse. A black bench. Two long-sleeve t-shirts. And willing ears. So how did it go? It was an amazing success! My beautiful and talented co-conspirator Latoya Rhodes and I toured to close to 50 schools along the Wasatch Front. We went to elementary schools, libraries, private academies, art galleries, boys & girls clubs and theaters. We even got to go to my old Junior High, Snowcrest Jr. High in Eden where my Mom still teaches P.E., Health and Spanish. We performed for my Mom’s 8th grade Health class and Mrs. Bulloch’s (my old Drama teacher!) 7th grade class. After our last performance, Mrs. Bulloch asked if we could play some acting games with the kids. Latoya and I goofed off with them for ten or fifteen minutes, the bell rang and the kids started to file out to the busses to take them home. Lingering behind was this young African-American girl, buried beneath these large, black-rimmed vintage glasses. She approached us timidly and struck up a conversation. She asked us about the stories, if they...

Actor Latoya Rhodes' takeaway from the Free Elementary School Tour

Latoya Rhodes spent most of 2014 performing in Matthew Ivan Bennett’s anti-bullying play DIFFERENT=AMAZING, which was seen by more than 12,000 students, grades 4-6, between February and October 2014 as part of Plan-B’s Free Elementary School Tour. Davis Arts Council, Good Company Theatre and Art Access partnered on various stages of the tour. How can I quantify an experience like DIFFERENT=AMAZING? I sit here at my computer pondering all the amazing things that happened on the tour. Reflecting back on my own childhood, on how DIFFERENT=AMAZING came to exist, to rehearsals with Jerry, Tyson and Matt, to where I am now: drinking a hot tea, smiling, and hoping I can at least share parts of a life changing show. I suppose I will just start . . . When I was younger I was bullied relentlessly because I looked different from all the other kids, had different hair, wore very thick glasses, was painfully shy and was a complete geek to the core. I was a prime target. The bullying even got so bad that it grew to be physical. I got into a physical fight in the hallways with one of my bullies, which I lost, and another bully punched me in the stomach at recess. Unfortunately, nobody at school did anything about it. Now being older, I have been asked frequently if I thought that bullying has gotten worse since I was a kid, and before the question is complete I answer yes. I mean, getting into fights to defend myself from those bullies was not ideal; however, the bullying nowadays is so severe that these children are...

Director Christy Summerhays' takeaway from Plan-B's Free Elementary School Tour

Christy Summerhays directed Plan-B’s first Free Elementary School Tour, Sergei Prokofiev’s PETER AND THE WOLF in partnership with Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation, which was seen by more than 10,000 elementary students. Davis Arts Council and Salt Lake Symphony partnered on various legs of the tour. When I’m asked what super power I would choose (a question that comes up surprisingly often) I always say, The Ability to Become Invisible. I would LOVE to stand in front of a movie theatre, for instance, and watch people watching a movie.  I like the idea of being able to see people as they truly are. The closest I have come to fulfilling this fantasy is when I got to take Plan-B’s production of Prokofiev’s PETER AND THE WOLF to elementary schools. Usually when a production is up and running the director’s job is finished and she moves on to other things. Luckily for me we needed someone to run the projections for these school shows and I took over. I would set up the projector behind a large screen that we ritualistically assembled at each new school and find a place I could sit to push my buttons.  Inevitably I would have a perfect view of the children sitting on the edges of the auditorium and my wish to be invisible would come true…for about 45 minutes.  It was heavenly.  When Kary Billings played Aaron Copland’s “Ho Down” the little kindergarteners couldn’t help but move their fingers wildly, immediately imagining they could keep up with Kary’s keyboard acrobatics. And then, as Jay Perry told the story of PETER AND THE WOLF and...

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