Birds on a Wire Educational Outreach

Birds on a Wire ProjectActions speak louder than words

Led by Voice Theatre’s teaching artists in coordination with High School teachers, workshops are based on current core curriculum and focus on home foreclosure in the 1930’s and how that relates to the recent past economic downturn and to present day ecological disasters and the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. Focusing on how these events relate to the lives of students today, workshops examine how teenagers were affected by home foreclosure. Students create and perform original monologues and duologues about their own experiences of being the victims of, or witnesses to, homelessness, foreclosure, downsizing, the fear of their parents losing their jobs, watching friends, family or neighbors, going through economic downturn and most importantly, their definition of “home’ and how that is crucial to their lives. Students may also create new scenes incorporating the characters from Birds on a Wire.

Introductory meetings take place during school time. All participating students meet to share, co-lead and discuss their experiences relating to the themes of the play.

Research and History

Students will listen to, read, and watch videos about the Dust Bowl and foreclosure and read poems from Out of the Dust by teenage poet Karen Hesse. Students will read sections of Birds on a Wire and The Worst Hard Time, (National Book Award Winner) by Timothy Egan. Creative Writing students role-play and utilize improvisation based on their own experiences and the themes of the play, this experiential work combined with their research informs the writing of original monologues focusing on their experiences of social exclusion and the play’s themes.

Student Performances and Talk Backs

Students attend a school performance of Birds on a Wire and join the actors in performing the students’ monologues during multi-school group workshops. Up to ten monologues are published in the Birds on a Wire theatre playbill.

The Play

Birds on a Wire is the untold story of a Jewish family in 1930s Texas holding onto their lives as they fight to stave off-foreclosure and save their family’s integrity during the greatest ecological disaster of the 20th century – The Dust Bowl. Amidst the economic and environmental disaster around them, a family is chipped away at and held together by pride, courage and love.


Schools that have participated in Voice Theatre Workshops

New York City
Seward Park High School, 10th grade
Washington Irving High School, 12th grade
Bayard Ruston High School for the Humanities, 10th grade
Chelsea High School, 10th grade
University Neighborhood High School, 9th grade
The T. Schreiber Studio, New York City

Upstate New York
Kingston High School, Kingston, NY, 11th Grade
Hudson Valley Pathways Academy, 10th grade
Onteora High School, 10th grade
Boces Alternative High school, 11th grade
Boces Career and Technical High School, 10th grade
Woodstock Day High School 10th -11th grades
Highland High School, 10th grade
Saugerties High School, 10th grade

Detroit Inner City
Western International High School, 11th grade
Cass Technical High School, 11th grade
Mumford High School, 11th grade
North Farmington High School, 11th grade
Renaissance High school, 11th grade

Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene
Abilene Christian University, Abilene

United Kingdom
Hartcliffe High School, Bristol, England, 10th grade
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Bristol, England, college level
City & Westminster College, London, England, college level
Middlesex University, Cockfosters, London, England, college level
Queen Margaret College, Edinburgh, Scotland, college level
Syracuse University, USA in London, England, college level

Georges Lapierre High School, Bordeaux, 10th grade

Helena Lange Schule, Hanover, 11th grade