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Preview: Catch the Wall 

Will Coviello looks at Gabrielle Reisman's new play at Dillard University's Cook Theatre

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  In Gabrielle Reisman's new play, Catch the Wall, a trio of sixth-grade students who love bounce music are devastated when their favorite MC, Benefit, is killed. They set out to make a video tribute to her, hoping the video will give the performer exposure she never realized. They do some of the filming at their New Orleans charter school, and there is a clash of cultures, as some teachers resist the presence of the music and danceS the kids love. Even if the teachers don't hear it, the students play it constantly in their earbuds, and it's an almost around-the-clock part of their lives. Two of the students are played by student actors Corinne Williams and Troy Privott from Lusher Charter School. The rest of the cast includes Troi Bechet and actors from Goat in the Road Productions, Cripple Creek Theatre Company and the NOLA Project.

  In the play, Reisman, an master of fine arts candidate at the University of Texas at Austin, delves into the workings of a fictional New Orleans charter school. While the school is imaginary, many charter school issues are incorporated into the drama. William Bowling and Monica R. Harris play Teach for America corps members at the school. Reisman, director Christopher Kaminstein and Bowling all have worked in New Orleans charter schools in programs integrating arts into the curricula. Reisman started working on the play after noticing the prominence of local music in students' lives and witnessing the cultural differences between students and the teachers who came to New Orleans to work in the new schools. The play looks at the school from both teachers' and students' points of view.

  "This is the most dynamic piece I've written," Reisman says.

  Bounce music drives the play, and she pushed to have the most currently popular music included. Roosevelt Tyler, who dances during rapper Nicky Da B's performances, choreographed the show.

  "The play is about an important moment in education," Kaminstein says. "But it's important to look at the people involved. This is a remarkable snapshot of the lives of three students." — WILL COVIELLO


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