February 8, 2024

Jumpstarting the New Year with Secret Histories!

We are excited to kick off the new year with the launch of our 2024 Secret Histories arts education program in eight NYC schools!

Secret Histories is a multi-week residency program, adapted from our ongoing interview-based Undesirable Elements series, that showcases local individuals telling their own powerful stories of culture, identity, and belonging on stage. The program for grades 3-12 helps young people in New York City public schools develop confidence, connectedness, and empathy as they learn to express their unique voices and perspective. Over the decades, our residencies have grown in scope and reach, and in the last year alone, we managed to serve 500 students in 19 classrooms and 7 schools within New York City!

Photo by: Richard Louissant

Prior to the residencies, skilled theater teaching artists are trained in PCC’s community-engaged storytelling curriculum. These dedicated individuals are essential to the success of each residency: they work with students to transform their individual stories into a collective performance, using theater & ensemble skills to make vocal & gestural choices that enhance story expression, and to rehearse and build community. Our most recent 3-day training process concluded on January 16th. Here's what some of the Teaching Artists had to say:

“I appreciated how we were facilitated to engage in collaborative conversation with our co-facilitators & assistants.”

“It was very useful to explore different framing devices for lessons in a community care-centered manner.”

“All of the resources that were provided were incredibly useful. I feel prepared and excited to enter my residency with Ping Chong and Co!”

Photo by: Richard Louissant

School residencies typically begin with a live performance of PCC’s Secret Histories. Secret Histories is an Undesirable Elements show adapted for school-age audiences and features the true stories of immigrants and first-generation New Yorkers. Following the performance, there is a post-show Q&A with cast members where students ask questions about the experience of sharing true stories in a theatrical context. Once the residency is underway, students develop personal narratives and family/community histories based on key life moments. They work with peers, teachers, and teaching artists on peer and family interviews, drama exercises, and writing activities to bring forth their own personal histories. Through this interactive process, students deepen their confidence and skills as writers, public speakers, and theatrical performers; they see their ideas come to fruition in a culminating community performance in front of their peers and family members.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates and happenings from our residencies in the coming months! In the meantime, if you have any questions about bringing Secret Histories to your school or organization, please reach out to our Education Director Christina Bixland at christina@pingchong.org.