Drew University Inspires High Schoolers in AdvantageArts Program

Original play debuts this week

July 2021 – The Drew University Theatre and Dance Department’s AdvantageArts program returns to the stage after postponing last summer’s program due to COVID-19.

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Zachery Halley (left) performs in summer 2019.

The AdvantageArts program, which began in 2010 under the guidance of the late Rodney Gilbert, provides artistic training and college preparation to Newark high school students. The program is led by professors Lisa Brenner, Chris Ceraso, Kimani Fowlin, current Drew students, and Drew alums.

This summer’s performance, Game, No Game, is an original play by Newark-based artist and filmmaker Teolinda Azizzi, and was choreographed by Fowlin, assistant professor of dance. It will be streamed on July 28th and 29th at 7 pm.

“In Game, No Game, tempers run high and deep beliefs are tested when three ‘streamers’ play an online video game in which they attempt to build the world in which they want to live,” explained Ceraso, professor of theatre arts.

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Khyri Fortenberry (left) leads a dance sequence produced during summer 2018.

Working with the high school students has been an eye-opening experience for all involved.

It’s so inspiring to be able to work with such intelligent and amazingly talented students,” said Alize Martinez C ’18, an alumni mentor.

“My favorite part of this experience has been connecting and bonding with the students and being able to create such great work with them.”

Brenner, chair and professor of theatre, reflected on her work with two specific AdvantageArts students over the last several years, and is proud of the impact the program has had on their academic careers.

“Zachery Halley has participated in the program since high school. Teachers from AdvantageArts helped him with his auditions for college and he is now a rising junior at Kean University, majoring in theatre. Khyri Fortenberry participated in the 2018 summer intensive program and is now here at Drew. It’s an honor to watch students grow, gain confidence, and hone their craft.”

Stream Game, No Game here.

This story was written by Morgan Alley C’22.

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