NJ State Bar Foundation Funds Pushcart Players Distance Learning

Pushcart Players, New Jersey’s award winning educational theater for young and family audiences has received a generous investment from The New Jersey State Bar Foundation (NJSBF) with a grant to support distance learning. The initiative makes video footage and lesson plans connected to “A MORE PERFECT UNION,” the popular musical in the theater company’s 46th season, available to educators, students, and families throughout the nation.

“’Social distancing.’ ‘Working remotely.’ ‘Distance learning.’ These phrases are now part of our common language in this very uncommon time,” said producing artistic director, Paul Whelihan.  “They go against our very nature as social beings that have instincts to connect and commune. But phrases do not mean connection is impossible. NJSBF makes it possible for Pushcart Players to share virtually what we love to do face to face – use the power of theater to entertain, instruct, and illuminate.”

Over the coming weeks, Pushcart will be sharing short segments of “A MORE PERFECT UNION”, accompanied by lesson plans that provide deeper understanding and engagement. These are offered as free resources for drama instructors, teachers of all subjects, young learners, and family audiences.

The first phase of the initiative can be accessed by visiting: https://www.pushcartplayers.org/the-shows/a-more-perfect-union/

“A MORE PERFECT UNION” is a musical that captivates the spirit, action, and causes of the United States founders as they formulated the Constitution. It remains timely today as basic constitutional tenets continue to be a part of the national conversation, particularly in the presidential election year of 2020.

While detailing some broad, sweeping historical events and concepts, the play’s focus is on ordinary citizens involved in extraordinary events: Luke, Rebecca, Benjamin, and Abby. Through their eyes the story is told and the history unfolds. While addressing the complexities and conflicts of the period, the tone is purposefully light hearted. Through song, dance, and scene, history is made accessible to a young, contemporary audience.

The NJ State Bar Foundation is a nonprofit educational and philanthropic organization that offers a wide variety of free law-related education programs and services for teachers and their students in the Garden State. With the certainty that informed citizens make better citizens, the fundamental purpose of the Foundation is to affect people’s lives by helping them better understand the laws that impact them every day. Whether educating students about the justice system through the mock trial programs, training teachers to better combat teasing and bullying, or keeping students up to date with timely articles on social justice issues, quality programming is the hallmark of NJSBF.

Pushcart Players is NJ’s premiere touring theater company specializing in arts education for children. Twice nominated for an Emmy©, Pushcart is the recipient of numerous state and private awards for excellence and innovation. Founded in 1974, Pushcart brings substantive musical theater, workshops, and residencies to young people in schools and theaters nationwide. The company has traveled more than 2.5 million miles nationally and abroad, from the rural red schoolhouse to the nation’s White House.

Pushcart Players pioneered the movement to make the arts a central part of the school curriculum, and continues to be in the vanguard of this commitment. The company provides opportunities for meaningful arts learning in its 33 original musical plays, and myriad classes for young learners.  Both the plays and classes introduce the joy and magic of the live theater experience while underscoring many rich curriculum connections.

Central to all Pushcart’s programming are the principles of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility. “Everyone, everywhere has the right to the creative learning power of theater,” said Whelihan. “While the study of theater is valuable in and of itself, there is the added benefit of learning about history, human values, science, responsible behavior, and social values.”

For further information about this or any Pushcart Players’ program or service, visit www.pushcartplayers.org.

As a social-profit organization, Pushcart Players’ programs are made possible in part by NJ State Council on the Arts/Department of State, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Pine Tree Foundation of New York, NJ State Bar Foundation, Actors’ Equity Foundation,  ADP Foundation, The Community Foundation of NJ, EJ Grassmann Trust, Hyde & Watson Foundation, The Montclair Foundation, Park West Foundation, PNC Bank/Lillian P. Schenck Trust Fund, The Puffin Foundation, The Sosland Foundation, The Turrell Fund, The Whitehill Foundation, and numerous individual contributors.

PHOTO: Pushcart Players in A MORE PERFECT UNION (L to R: Danny Sims, Dana Patrice, Corey Whelihan, Stacie Gogo). PHOTO CREDIT: Sam Tucker