Since 1985, ADE has continued to work with every incoming FHS student, inviting the most talented and generous ones from Farrington, Kalakaua and Dole High Schools to audition for ADE’s flagship, T-Shirt Theatre of Kalihi. This low tech, high zest company of performers embodies our mission to help Hawaii’s youth rehearse for a life full of jobs, justice and joy.
45 multi-ethnic adolescents, ages 13-20, rehearse after school in the Farrington High School auditorium, home to the largest inner-city student body in Hawaii. This district, teeming with talent, lies in the shadow of five federal housing projects and has a disproportionate amount of poverty, crime, and new immigrants with language challenges.
Like the lychee in Kalihi Valley, the students are rough on the outside but sweet on the inside. Public perception of Farrington is of gangs, violence and low achievement. We want to change that perception to more accurately reflect the wide array of positive talents, accomplishments and possibilities of our urban youth. We are establishing a model that other ‘tough’ high schools can adopt. We consciously work to meet the demands of Hawaii‘s employers and communities for worker-citizens with higher-order thinking skills: critical thinking, agility in judgment, creativity, imagination, cooperative decision making, literacy, communication, and the capacity for problem-solving. Kalihi Works is a program dedicated with this charter.
[pullquote_left] We want to change that perception to more accurately reflect the wide array of positive talents, accomplishments and possibilities of our urban youth [/pullquote_left]
TST engages youth in all aspects of play production. They write original material, dance, sing, act, run lights and sound, manage front-of-house, and perform for back-to-back assemblies of 1200 students. Topics range from anger management, bullying and ecology to dealing with death, money and friendship.
Students also tour to 5th grade classes and teach performer and audience skills. These Envoy Tours to Kalihi elementary schools help youngsters gain the performing courage needed to score in class while underscoring the support an audience needs to offer shy classmates the courage to take their turn in front.
This tour ranks as irreplaceable base line to insure our kids understand what a REAL work commitment entails and to realize what being a trouper requires. After offering a short performance together, each of 6-8 TST performers solo coach 6-12 fifth graders and bring them to supported performance before the period ends. They do this 5 to 7 times per day.
The T-Shirt Theatre program helps Graduates embark with enhanced esteem that encourages future life success.