Culture Club

Culture Club-Portland

“The arts are an essential part of a well-rounded education that prepares students for success in the 21st Century workforce” -U.S. Department of Education

Through the generous support of an individual donor, Portland Stage has come together with the Portland Museum of Art, Portland Symphony Orchestra, and Portland Ovations to create Culture Club – Portland to advance arts education in our city. Through Culture Club, we inspire students by providing regular access to quality arts, building community, and making the arts a consistent part of students’ education. Culture Club – Portland provides students in the Portland Public Schools with the opportunity to participate in Portland Stage’s Education Programs every school year.

At Portland Stage, we have developed a series of Education Programs tied to Common Core Standards that are designed to grow with students as they progress through all grade-levels. We are using these programs as the framework for our Culture Club participation.

Culture Club-Portland programs are generously supported through the philanthropy of an anonymous benefactor, The Old Bug Light Foundation, and the Ernie Ayer Education Foundation.

To learn how the city of Portland is supporting Culture Club- Portland, see this article in The Forecaster.


Culture Club

  • Grades K-4: PLAY in Schools   In grades K-4 PLAY brings childrens books to life through a school-wide performance, followed by interactive classroom workshops. The goal of PLAY is to connect theater with literacy by making literature performative and encouraging character recall, understanding of themes, emotional recognition, physical storytelling, and vocal characterization. We actively engage students in small groups/workshops using their bodies, voices, and imaginations to build understanding of the text while bringing the stories and characters to life.


  • Grades 5 & 6: Holiday Show      In 5th and 6th Grades, Portland Stage connects students to more complex story structure by bringing students to the theater, often for their first professionaltheater experience. The visit is augmented by workshops, in their classrooms. Portland Stage has committed to including a cast of young actors in this production, so students see their peers on stage working alongside professional actors.


  • Grades 7 & 8: Directors Lab 
    Professional teaching artists present a 45 minute version of a Shakespeare play, using original text edited to inspire and incite conversation among students. After the performance, students engage directly with the text in an interactive workshop with professional actors. In these workshops, students practice effective communication, creative collaboration, rhetoric, and critical analysis. Directors Lab puts Shakespeares language into the hands and mouths of the students, empowering them to be the artists, directors, and ensemble with the power to interpret the text and produce meaning.  Click here to read about our visit to Lincoln Middle School with Romeo and Juliet.


  • Grades 9-12: Student Matinees
    The goal of our student matinee program is to help students gain a deeper understanding of their own lives by connecting to productions that explore and mirror the world in which they live. Following the performance, students participate in a talkback with the cast and crew, which helps them gain awareness of the creative process and encourages them to think critically about the themes and messages of the play. All of the plays in Portland Stage’s season have 10:00am Student Matinee performances scheduled throughout the school year. Students see the same exceptional professional performances as our evening audiences. Teachers can download our resource guide PlayNotes in advance for background articles, information on the playwright, and lesson ideas aligned with the Common Core Standards.

All of these Portland Stage Education Programs are free once a year to every student in the Portland Public Schools through support from Culture Club – Portland.  All teachers need to do is follow the links above to the appropriate program and call us to make reservations and arrange dates.

Portland Stage’s work with students at the K-5 level in the Portland Public Schools has been studied and endorsed by Education Researcher Dr. Alexander Lapidus of the University of Southern Maine as “cutting edge” innovation in the area of multi-literacy learning. To read Dr. Lapidus’s recent paper on our PLAY – In-Schools workshops, click here.

For more information on Culture Club – Portland and its partner organizations click here.