McKean Students Showcase Production Skills with the Classroom Series
The Thomas McKean High School audion has been transformed. Erected on the normally empty stage are three walls, joined and painted to create a living room. Album art hangs on the living room walls as well as hand-drawn images of a heart with a question mark draped along one side. Written on the wall in thick black strokes is a single quote: “You’re all the things and then you’re none.” In front of this quote is Jonah Matranga, musician and author, strumming his guitar and singing out to an audience of one hundred and fifty people.
This is only a small glimpse into the McKean Classroom Series, a one hundred percent student-run production. The project, launched by McKean’s Audio, Radio, and Television teacher, Gregory Boulden, was designed to provide students with hands-on experience in concert and video production. Yet, such a statement fails to capture the amount of work students put into this production. Even the word production falls short of describing the Classroom Series.
The Classroom Series begins in the morning where students conduct a televised interview with a musician, asking questions about the artist’s life and work in front of a live audience. At night, the doors of the school open to the community for the musician’s concert, and the students are responsible for it all. A director and technical director work in conjunction with each other to guarantee the show runs smoothly and all the teams in the ART Production Company function properly. Every aspect is planned and designed: from lighting to sound to set. Those working the cameras are coordinating with each other to capture the perfect shots. Students organize ticket sales and man the merchandise table. They greet the artist and show Highlander hospitality. The students are completely in charge of running the show, and if the Jonah Matranga concert is any indication of their ability and professionalism, they run it well.
It is this dedication and aptitude that Boulden hopes will gain McKean’s program a reputation as a viable Delaware concert venue for both local and national musicians. Indeed, the nature of the student-run production allows for certain accommodations that larger scale venues may be missing. Concerts in the McKean audion are more intimate in nature, and as students have more time to dedicate to the production of the show, they are able to focus in on little details that make their television show and concert personalized to the individual musicians who come to perform. This is why they created the set of a living for Jonah Matranga, who has spent the past fifteen years of his career playing house shows in people’s living rooms. It is why they painted a lyric from Matranga’s song “14 to 41” on the wall.
Yet, more than making McKean a well-known venue, Boulden hopes that this new program will inspire a surge of school pride. While Highlanders are already able to support their peers in sports, the musical, and other extracurricular activities, the Classroom Series gives Highlanders a chance to support students whose talents were previously unseen and untapped. Whether it’s watching the interview at home on TV or coming back to McKean for the concert, the Classroom
Series showcases to fellow students and community members exactly what Highlanders are capable of doing.
These students’ hard work and talent have not gone unnoticed, and a buzz has already started circulating in in classrooms for the next concert in the Classroom Series. On February 2nd, McKean will be hosting Mad Squablz. The twenty-one-year-old hip-hop emcee has gained recognition as a true wordsmith, being named Philadelphia’s “Lyricist of the Year” for the past two years. With over ten million views on his YouTube videos and beating out six thousand people in the 2016 Team Backpack Mission Underground Championship, Mad Squablz has proven that his clean and intellectual style of rap is worth coming out to see.
The community does not want to miss this next show hosted by EDGE Radio and produced by the McKean ART Company. Tickets can be purchased for ten dollars on the EDGE Radio’s Facebook page or the McKean website. Student tickets are available for five dollars at all lunches. Doors will open at 7:30 on February 2nd, and the show will begin at 8:00.