The Escola Superior de Artes Célia Helena (ESCH), the Teatro-Escola Célia Helena (TECH) and the Casa do Teatro are institutions that, since their beginning, have observed questions related to citizenship and the exercise of social rights. Our actions encourage artistic investigation and aim for knowledge production, the approach to different resources of artistic creation and cultural diffusion.
ESCH orientates its social responsibility commitment towards integrating higher education with basic education (public and private schools), creation of audiences for the performing arts and giving support to the constitution of theater companies and independent art groups.
By the creation of the Escola Superior de Artes Célia Helena in 2008, new ways of social intervention and project development became viable: The Projeto Conexões (Connections Project), aiming to support young theater groups with actors under the age of 19, and the Arts Applied to Education course. In 2011, the ESCH achieved a symposium in a partnership with the Delegación Coyoacán Colegio de Literatura Dramatica and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) with the aim of promoting the diffusion of Brazilian dramaturgy in Mexico, in which Mexican actors translated and performed Brazilian plays and were directed by Brazilians.
The ESCH brings together research and cultural education, developing fruitful partnerships to promote an equitable and dynamic society through diversity, nurturing pedagogical initiatives in both private and public environments.
Since 2007, the ESCH fosters youth theatre groups in public and private schools through the Connections Project, in partnership with the British Council, National Theatre (UK) and Brazilian institutes. This year the ESCH is involved in its 11th edition.
ESCH is entirely responsible for planning actions in which, every year, 200 young people take part in plays and 2,000 children and young spectators, who lack access to culture, can have their first experience in a theatre house.
The project consists in the formation of theatre groups, workshops and training, performances and debate forum with the participants. The young actors perform texts written by contemporary playwrights from Brazil and the United Kingdom, invited to compose plays aiming at an audience of youth and children.
The material gave rise to a bilingual book published, freely distributed to schools and international partners. Connections is recognized in national and international level, being developed also in Italy (Connections), Portugal (Panos), Scotland, Norway (Nyheter), Georgia, Finland (Nuoren Näyttämön) and Sweden (Länk).
Even Underwater Project
Another educational project focused on social inclusion and citizenship value is the Even Underwater Project. Realized in 2015 it promoted the creation of pedagogical subsidies for teaching environmental awareness and conscious use of water, through arts and theatre plays, with children and youth as participants and target groups.
The playwriting was carried out by working groups of students under orientation of teachers. After the planning and composing work, young actors staged it in public and private schools in the city and countryside of São Paulo, interacting with and involving the children and young people in the performance.
The artistic and educational process relied on the collaboration and supervision of multidisciplinary groups within the Performing Arts department of the ESCH in order to ensure the high quality of artistic-pedagogical work.
The experience resulted in the development of a manual with didactic instructions, a theatre syllabus and the original plays, delivered free of charge to schools. The project is available online for other teachers to implement the method in their classes.
The project had the support of the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES) in the Program for the Production of Educational Material for Basic Education.
LIBRAS and Brazilian Dances
The ESCH establishes partnerships with public schools for the shared practices of artistic and pedagogical actions as tools that facilitate the teaching-learning process in teaching children how to read and write.
There are mandatory disciplines in the academic curriculum with the aim of encouraging social inclusion and valorization of Brazilian cultural diversity: Brazilian Dances and LIBRAS (Brazilian Sign Language). Brazilian Dances opens space for studies, practical experimentation and critical analysis of cultural manifestation in Brazil’s wide and diverse panorama, including meetings with indigenous communities. Students learn LIBRAS and assist in giving pedagogical assistance from the Division of Education and Rehabilitation of Communication Disorders (DERDIC).
Other Social-Artistic projects
– Arte-escola: formação e informação (Art-School: Education and Information)
– Domingo na praça (Sunday at the Square)
– Teatro-Educação (Theater-Education)
These projects were focused on the young public from communities in the suburbs and schools and were a pioneer work that began in the 1970s, before the outbreak of nongovernmental organizations. The institution continues to invest in its social role and has expanded its actions by implementing several art programs along with other institutions such as Fundação Gol de Letra (Gol de Letra Foundation), Posto de Orientação Familiar da Favela Paraisópolis (Family Orientation Post of the Paraisópolis Favela), Fundação Arte Despertar (Art Awaken Foundation)