Before books, cultures used the oral tradition to teach values to future generations. Our programs emulate this tradition to create a communal atmosphere that fosters an intimacy with literature. In a time when 14% of U.S. adults are illiterate and the average adult has a 9th grade reading level, our events reconnect the public with the richness of contemporary literature. The WITS Squad connects underserved youth with curriculum relevant literature. Comprised of professional actors and authors whose profile and work ensures that their readings will resonate with students, the WITS program is both engaging and inspiring. It has been flourishing in Los Angeles’ Title 1 schools, where English is commonly the second language and at least 40% of the students live at or below the poverty line*, and is poised to expand to under-served schools in other American cities and throughout the United Kingdom.
These performances enhance students’ current course of study by giving them an opportunity to actively listen and use their imaginations to visualize the stories they hear. WITS’s audiences will leave each event more aware of how powerful language is and that the people around them each have unique stories. By experiencing the impact of great writing, students are encouraged to read, to write and to express their personal experiences, just as these inspiring authors have done. Conversations about theme, plot and character follow the readings, foster empathy and compassion.
*Many of the Title 1 Schools WordTheatre goes to are above 60% below the poverty line, with some as high as 90%.
WITS Squad participating actors are:
- Sterling K Brown (The People vs. OJ Simpson, Army Wives, This is Us)
- JK Simmons (Spiderman, Whiplash)
- Kevin Corrigan (Grounded for Life, The Departed)
- Assaf Cohen (American Sniper, Entourage)
- Jerrika Hinton (Grey’s Anatomy, Send Me)
- George Delhoyo (Rango, Batman Beyond, Beverly Hills 90210)
- Johnny Ortiz (American Crime, McFarland USA, Strike One)
- Danny Trejo (Machete, Heat)
- Kirsten Vangsness (Criminal Minds, Agent Carter)
- Tracie Thoms (RENT, Annie, Looper)
- Jon Huertas (Castle, Generation Kill)
- Ryan Michelle Bathe (One for the Money, Army Wives)
- Jason George (Grey’s Anatomy, Mistresses)
- Chris Bauer (The People vs. OJ, The Wire, True Blood)
- Emma Hamilton (Last Cab to Darwin, Tudors, Musketeers)
- And many more…
WITS Visiting Authors are:
Ben Loory (Stories for Nighttime & Some for Day, Tales of Falling & Flying)
Please support our Title 1 School’s program by making a tax deductible donation today.