Flying Monkey Theatre Arts provides performing arts education to Benicia’s four public elementary schools as part of the STEAM Wheel rotations for students in grades 3-5. The partnership began before the STEAM Wheel, with drama clubs and fundraising events, but it has evolved into Shakespeare in the classroom. STEAM Wheel provides learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering, math, critical thinking and the visual and performing arts, and involves community partners as presenters.
Since 2014 we have brought Shakespeare to life in the 5th grade classrooms of all four Benicia elementary schools. Students are engaged in active learning about the Bard, and after a brief "break the ice" session of laughter and camaraderie, students learn about life in Renaissance England as they taste "Shakespearean" foods, try on period clothing, and work together to bring one of the Bard's tales to life through a live reading 'in the round'.
Flying Monkey Theatre Arts began a partnership with Benicia Middle School Drama & Benicia High School Drama over eight years ago when we created The Benicia Unified Players, and staged the first Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre Event. Designed originally to raise much needed funds for Robert Semple Elementary School, as well as to showcase and affirm the talent of Benicia's youth actors, the event was a smash hit! It has since become a much anticipated event each year by both the adult community and our youth & teen performers.
Extended Learning Opportunity Program (ELOP) offers elementary school students a chance to explore performing arts and develop new interests in a fun, supportive environment that encourages creativity and camaraderie, while providing opportunities to practice problem-solving skills. ELOP classes are taught by experienced teaching artists/directors. Inspired by STEAM guidelines, curriculum includes imaginative play through guided Live Action Role Play, improvisation, props fabrication, puppetry, pantomime and scripted performance, as well as being designed to encourage critical thinking and problem solving. Best of all, the program teaches the life lessons of humility and commitment while spurning strong friendships in the process!
ELOP is sponsored by The Benicia Unified School District.
We seek to support the artistic development of teens through a variety of programs, which include Improvisational Theatre Education in public schools, after school drama clubs, mentoring technical theatre programs, and various design & fabrication classes in our host locations (Benicia Middle School, Benicia High School, Campbell Theatre Martinez & CPC Vallejo).
The program has three key goals: 1) performance opportunities and skill development, 2) apprenticeships with professional performers/designers/technicians, and 3) mentoring and community service.
Volunteer and work program participants are exposed to artistic exploration and development of technical skills, as well as leadership and direction, in a variety of traditional and non-traditional performance media through workshops taught by professional artists. To further develop dramatic art skills we will encourage and facilitate teen apprenticeship opportunities with paraprofessional theatres and youth ensembles.
The mentoring component of our work involves training teens as youth directors, workshop leaders, technical theatre practitioners for off-site community projects, including the yearly Benicia Unified Players mystery fundraiser, which serves over 400 patrons and includes over 75 actors of all ages from within our community.