an opera about Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs
US Poet Laureate
Creator of Plan Of The City

We are creating an educational curriculum in conjunction with this opera that will re-introduce students to their own city, revealing it as an impermanent, continually shifting constellation of structures. Our goal is to create the "ah-ha" moments when students realize that the buildings and infrastructure around them have not always been there, and are in fact the temporary result of human decisions.

Students will learn, through the story of Jacobs and Moses, how deeply a single individual can shift an environment. They will express their personal visions for change by creating collage interventions-collages that propose improving or replacing local structures in the neighborhood that surrounds their home and/or school. Through discussion and art making, this education program seeks to empower students to make change in their own communities.

The battles waged by Moses and Jacobs impacted all New Yorkers, and those impacts are still felt today. The A Marvelous Order education initiative will honor this reality by working with students across the class spectrum. By targeting schools serving different socioeconomic populations, educators will empower a diverse range of young people to view themselves as potential voices for urban change.

Though the communities will vary, the basic educational structure will remain the same. Each school group will have two sessions in the classroom with an educator, before and after attending the opera in person (if necessary, recordings of the opera may be used instead). During the introductory session, the educator will expose them to the opera's themes and basic history, engaging them in dialog about how cities are planned.

During the final classroom visit students will be given imagery of a building or structure in their neighborhood, and challenged to collage on top of that structure in order to alter, improve, or delete it altogether from the area, based on their future vision for the landscape. It's an opportunity for students to dream, and to impose change on the very structures they pass every day. Thus the larger educational theme of urban change, through art making, will become specific and personal for each classroom.

Most students graduate high school with very little exposure to contemporary performing arts or urban planning. The A Marvelous Order educational initiative introduces them to both, challenging them along the way to view their community and themselves differently.

Employing the language of art, a diverse range of students will engage with the city as an impermanent setting, a place where individuals like themselves can and do realize change.

A Marvelous Order's education program executed its first prototype in conjunction with our "Pre-Premiere" production in Williamstown. We worked with a diverse group of eighteen 11th grade students at the BART Charter School in Adams, MA, who generated great conversation and provactive collages. We look forward to future iterations of this program.

Danielle Durchslag
Education Program Director