CCM Summer's "Be the Change" workshop engages Prep Musical Theatre students

The Musical Theatre Workshop activities on June 20 were focused on social justice to mark Juneteenth

The summer high school Musical Theatre Workshop at UC's College-Conservatory of Music dedicated this past Monday's activities to share a daylong curriculum focused on social justice to commemorate Juneteenth.

Centered on fostering critical thinking and building respectful relationships, the daylong curriculum on June 20 welcomed guest artists from The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati, American Legacy Theatre and other local professional theatre artists. It was presented to students participating in CCM Summer's Musical Theatre Workshop, a two-week workshop for high school students interested in theatre arts.

Students in the CCM Summer Musical Theatre Workshop

Students in the CCM Summer Musical Theatre Workshop during the special curriculum on June 20. Photo by CCM Art Administration student Patrick Koshewa.

Students in the CCM Summer Musical Theatre Workshop during the special curriculum on June 20. Photo by CCM Art Administration student Patrick Koshewa.

Students in the CCM Summer Musical Theatre Workshop during the special curriculum on June 20. Photo by CCM Art Administration student Patrick Koshewa.

Students in the CCM Summer Musical Theatre Workshop during the special curriculum on June 20. Photo by CCM Art Administration student Patrick Koshewa.

Students in the CCM Summer Musical Theatre Workshop during the special curriculum on June 20. Photo by CCM Art Administration student Patrick Koshewa.

The Juneteenth-inspired curriculum was designed to encourage young actors to stand up for themselves and other people. It aimed to foster all artists' identities and to support each actor to develop pride, self-confidence and to build deep connections with others. Each guest artists presented workshops and discussions focused on social justice issues.

Deondra Means, a professional artist, actor, and writer with The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati, led a class where students developed personal stories about a discriminatory incident between characters. This engaged participants in how to evoke empathy and gain problem-solving skills. Derek Snow, a professional artist, writer, actor, and director in Cincinnati, facilitated a discussion on harmful stereotyping by exploring works that depict characters experiencing unfair treatment based on their identity. 

Sherry McCamley, a professional musician, actor, writer, and artist in Cincinnati, implemented activities to counter potential overgeneralizations or existing stereotypes in the artist's environment. Matthew David Gellin, Executive Artistic Director & CEO at American Legacy Theatre, engaged the young artists in a group exercise designed to help them take something perceived as inequitable and turn it into something equitable.

CCM Summer thanks the CCM DEI Committee for sponsoring this event.

Sunday, June 19, 2022, marked the 157th anniversary of Juneteenth, a date long celebrated to commemorate the delayed emancipation of enslaved Black people in the United States. While President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, his edict could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. When Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, the army announced that the more than quarter million enslaved Black people in the state were free by executive decree. This day came to be celebrated as Juneteenth.

President Joe Biden signed the bill to offically make Juneteenth into an American federal holiday last year, and UC pauses most campus activities in honor of the federal holiday.

"Our hope is that we as a university community can use this time to pause and reflect on the horrific injustices of our nation’s past. May we also commit to fighting systemic racial inequalities that continue today and devote ourselves to inclusiveness, equity and justice," reads the joint statement from UC President Nevile G. Pinto and Vice President for Equity, Inclusion and Community Impact Bleuzette Marshall. "As we observe Juneteenth this year, we trust it will serve as a poignant reminder of where we have been as a society and prompt us to do everything in our power to seek a future that is more equal and just for all."