These NOLA kids are channeling their emotions into the arts. Here's why that matters.
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New Orleans Tourism

After spending 12 years pursuing acting in Los Angeles, Anthony Bean never thought he'd end up right back in his hometown of New Orleans.

However, after his teenage daughter suddenly passed away there, he felt like it was time for him to return.

Anthony Bean. Photo via Anthony Bean, used with permission.


They had maintained a close relationship by visiting each other regularly, but when she abruptly became ill and died, he realized that NOLA — his birthplace and hers — was meant to be his permanent home.

Even though his daughter was young, she had been eager to take over a small theater company Bean had started back in 1973 called the Ethiopian Theater. It was one of the few black-focused theaters in New Orleans.

So, in the wake of his devastating loss, Bean decided to turn his daughter's dream into a brighter reality.

"I wanted more of a commercial theater and an acting school," Bean says. "A church and school opened up on Carrollton Avenue. In 2000, it became Anthony Bean Community Theater and Acting School."

Bean with some of his students. Photo via Anthony Bean, used with permission.

The theater was designed to be a "quality, culturally diverse performing arts venue," and the acting school offers an eclectic group of classes to both children and adults seeking to learn more about performing, set design, and theater management.

The youth program, however, became ABCT's shining star.

"There’s such a vast need for this type of work, particularly when you’re catering to inner-city kids," Bean says.

While the craft of acting is obviously of importance, Bean says much of the work they do is based around social drama, with kids acting out what's going on in their own lives.

Students during a performance at ABCT. Photo via Anthony Bean, used with permission.

That's why the school focuses on teaching the Stanislavsky method of acting, which deals with character emotionality first and foremost. Bean says it seems to be the best way in for kids who have less of an academic background.

However, that way of working often delivers astounding results.

"I find when dealing with inner-city kids, emotion is who they are," Bean explains. "And when you incorporate that into the arts, you’ve got fireworks."

Since the beginning, the youth programs have been popular with kids and parents. That's why Bean maintains them, even while they don't have an official space.

Kids in the ABCT youth program. Photo via ABCT, used with permission.

Unfortunately their original space was turned into a charter school, so ABCT had to vacate, and is currently awaiting sufficient funds to get a new space. While fundraising in the community has been going well enough, it's been a struggle, especially since the government cut the Wisner Grant, which had supported the theater and school.

That said, he remains optimistic, especially considering the success of the most recent summer program.

ABCT Summer Program is more than a Camp...It's Culture!9 Week Summer Theater ProgramCulminates with the soulful, hit...

Posted by Anthony Bean Community Theater & Acting School on Friday, February 3, 2017

This past summer, they put on two musical productions: "Soulville" and "Old Skool." If you're in NOLA during the summer months, the ABCT kids' shows are more than worth the price of admission. You won't just be supporting good theater, you'll be helping sustain a life-changing school.

The kids are learning to channel their emotionality into something constructive, and the best part is, they get to be part of a beautiful, collaborative product that earns rousing applause at the end. What could be more validating?

Not only is the program giving inner-city kids a creative outlet, it's breeding real talent.

A student in an ABCT production of "The Color Purple." Photo via ABCT, used with permission.

Many ABCT students matriculate into the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), one of the most prestigious art programs in the country. Some former students have even gone on to do rather well professionally in the entertainment business. Wendell Pierce — star of shows like "The Wire" and "Treme," for example — is a former ABCT student.

Bean is working tirelessly to keep ABCT afloat, and hopes the new administration will start lending a hand.

Kids in the ABCT program. Photos via ABCT, used with permission.

Programs that specifically cater to marginalized and inner-city kids are few and far between. Considering schools nationwide are cutting arts programs right and left, theaters like ABCT are becoming rare gems that need to be saved.

Not only are these programs fun for kids, having a place in which they feel they belong instills confidence in them they might not have found anywhere else.

"There are many kids out there who can’t play football, who don’t like sports," Bean says. "I'm providing an outlet for these kids."

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less