The Broadway Education Alliance Inc. (BEA) was commissioned by the producers of the Broadway production of Eclipsed to develop and manage a community outreach initiative called “Eclipsed: 10,000 Girls”. The objective of the campaign was to enable young women to attend their landmark production—the first in Broadway history to feature an all-female cast, director and playwright. The play, written by Zimbabwean- American playwright and actress Danai Gurira, is a deeply felt portrait of survival and resilience, set amid the chaos of the Liberian Civil War, when the captive wives of a rebel officer band together to form a fragile community of women who endeavor to find their own strength in a hostile world of horrors not of their own making. The production starred Academy Award®-winner Lupita Nyong’o, and Pascale Armand, Akosua Busia, Zainab Jah and Saycon Sengbloh and was directed by South Africian-born Liesl Tommy.
As the name suggests, the goal of the 10,000 Girls campaign was to illuminate the historic nature of the production, the stellar cast and the timely themes of the story to: (1) enable 10,000 disadvantaged girls to experience a Broadway show, (2) showcase the relevance of the play in an educational context, and (3) pilot a new approach to educational outreach in the theater industry.
Thanks to individual donations and educational grants, the Broadway Education Alliance raised $181,155. Through an online application process, the program funded 162 school, non-profit organizations and community groups who brought 4,195 young women, ages 12-25, to New York City to see the show on Broadway at ticket prices ranging from $45.00-$99.00. To support the program, the producers augmented funds by donating enough tickets to accommodate all requests making the average ticket price for the program $43.18. In addition to serving as the fiscal sponsor for the project, the Broadway Education Alliance produced and distributed a special edition of StageNotes®, a digital study guide that provided historical background, cultural references and lesson plans inspired by the play. (http://stagenotes.net/education- guide/eclipsed/). The guide was distributed free to hundreds of schools, community centers and civic groups so that students could have relevant educational information before and after the show.
Most of the girls and young women who benefited from participating in Eclipsed: 10,000 Girls had never been to a Broadway show, or been given the opportunity to meet such accomplished women as those involved in this production. Teacher and group leaders reported that the adventure of going to seeing a Broadway show, reading about the inspiration for the play, and meeting the cast, creative team or stage crew following the performance, stimulated ongoing reflection and discussion which made seeing Eclipsed a powerful, enriching and memorable theater experience for youth/students.
Eclipsed played a limited engagement on Broadway at the Golden Theater from February 23 through June 19, 2016. Eclipsed is planned for production at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco in 2017. All the processes and materials produced by BEA for Eclipsed: 10,000 Girls, as well as the remaining designated funds for the program will be provided to this theatre to support the launch of their program to enable more young women living in/around their communities to attend the production. Furthermore, the Eclipsed edition of StageNotes will remain available to schools at www.stagenotes.net.
Finally, as a direct result of Eclipsed: 10,000 Girls pilot program, other Broadway producers are interested in exploring ways to align educational content and an enrichment experience for students with their plays and musicals. BEA will continue to support innovative initiatives that expand the audience for the theatre and broadens their view of the world.