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New STEAM Plays Performances to Premiere

Four new performances, all part of the STEAM Plays Project, will premiere on June 2 at the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools (MCVTS)  auditorium in East Brunswick, New Jersey.  The STEAM Plays Project is a series of performances created and presented by MCVTS students in collaboration with the McCarter Theatre Center and NJIT Theatre Arts and Technology Program

The themes of the plays, and techniques employed to present them, are grounded in the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The acronym STEAM adds “Arts” to the creative equation. Developed by students under the guidance of expert creative advisors, the performances will feature technology that includes four projectors, a live camera feed, robotics, movable lights, and Kinect and wearable technology.

Premiering will be:

All Possibilities As True, written by guest artist Jessica Dickey, forces a group of teenagers to face their greatest fears during a classroom lecture on quantum mechanics.

Packing, by MCVTS Junior Michael Villanueva, deals with the friction between two friends when one of them has to move to a predominantly white suburb.

Support Group for Weirdos, by guest artist Nathan Alan Davi, is a dark comedy of three high school outcasts who band together with the help of a prosthetic arm.

ID, created by MCVTS sophomores and juniors explores the personal disconnect, fears and aspirations surrounding the idea of America in the 21st century.

Performances will be June 2 through June 4, and June 9 through June 11 at 7:00 p.m. at the Middlesex County Vocational Technical School auditorium, 112 Rues Lane, East Brunswick. Pre-sale tickets can be purchased by contacting mcvtstheatre@gmail.com, $15 for adults and $5 for students. Tickets at the door are $17 for adults and $7 for students. Teachers and administrators K through 12 are free. The show will run approximately two hours with intermission. There is free parking at the venue.

The STEAM Plays Project began when the McCarter Theatre Center In Schools Program approached Maria Aladren, head of the MCVTS Theatre Program, to collaborate on a project. Aladren proposed creating a series of productions that combined various STEM elements. NJIT was invited to participate as an advisor.

“While education in science, technology, engineering and math may provide skills that are needed in today’s job market, the addition of the arts fosters equally important capabilities in metaphorical, critical and abstract thinking,” Aladren says. The inherent laboratory structure of the performing- arts curriculum lends itself to problem-solving using many complementary STEM skills. Students are presented with a series of problems that they must solve by drawing on all of their creative resources, including their STEM knowledge.”

In the course of the project, MCVTS students received guidance and training in the full spectrum of creative, technical and managerial skills needed for success. The MCVTS Theatre Program engaged three professional playwrights to guide the students in the year-long process of writing and development. Faculty members from NJIT’s Biology and Humanities Departments and School of Art + Design, along with designers associated with the McCarter Theatre explored the interaction between art and STEM with students from MCVTS and the NJIT and Rutgers University-Newark Joint Theatre Program. Additionally, MCVTS students received training in lighting, sound, costume design, budgeting, marketing and other skills relevant to presenting the pieces they created.

For more information, contact Maria Aladren, MCVTS School of the Arts Theatre, at mcvtstheatre@gmail.com.