Fans of This American Life and loyal readers of SFist will remember CASA (Children's After-School Arts), the local after-school program that was featured because of a provocative musical they created and staged in the spring of 2015 called "City Not For Sale." The program has a tradition of putting on a big spring show, written by faculty and with students' input, often focusing on issues of social justice with a "only in SF" lefty bent. And this year, riffing on their appearance on This American Life, they're doing a show about the environment and bees called This American Hive. And, naturally, this "buzz-worthy original musical" (har) has got an audio cameo by Ira Glass.
This American Hive will feature 200 kids, from kindergarten to fifth grade, many of whom helped developed the script through improvisation and writing exercises over the course of the school year.
The plot goes something like this.
When a group of middle school kids enter the White House Science Fair, they are taken on a magical journey beyond their wildest dreams! Shrunken to the size of insects, the students experience the plight of honeybees first hand when they meet them face to face. Langston, a drone who identifies as a worker bee, introduces the kids to the natural world from the perspective of some of the most vulnerable species.
And, yes, like last year's show, issues of identity and privilege are tackled along with environmental concerns but this time it probably won't feel to some parents like their children are being indoctrinated to hate the industry they work for.
As we learned last year, CASA is a pretty unique program that was developed two decades ago at the Rooftop Alternative School, a K-8 public school in the Twin Peaks neighborhood which itself has a social justice and arts bent. Kids take part in various creative activities for the three hours between when school lets out and their parents finish work, which include sculpture, clowning, painting, drumming, "magical arts," and improv.
This American Hive will play two performances, Saturday, May 14 at 6 p.m. and Sunday, May 15 at 2 p.m. at the Carol Channing Theater at Lowell High School. It will sell out like always, and tax deductible tickets are available here.