The Benched Players are a theatrical improvisation ensemble led by Melissa Kate Miller, a songwriter, stage and voice actress, writer, and poet. The Benched Players lift students from the sidelines (“off the bench”) and, through theater games and improvisation, engage their critical and creative minds. Formed in 2006, The Benched Players has morphed from a team of actors presenting a show to a hands-on workshop where students learn and perform theatrical improvisation techniques, using their everyday challenges as inspiration. The program was designed particularly with special needs and at-risk students in mind.
As the US Managing Director for Artfully AWARE, and leader of the cabaret blues act, The Melissa Kate Project, Miller draws from a varied background for her students. She holds a BFA in Musical Theater from SUNY Fredonia. She has worked with many arts-in-education programs, and she has taught and choreographed at many area schools. She has also taught workshops at the Lancaster Opera House for kids and teens. Miller uses theater, creative writing, poetry and song to help students develop creative and critical thinking skills.
Topics vary by age and grade level, and may include:
Grades K-3: Self-awareness and awareness of others.
Grades 4-6: Peer pressure, the influence of media.
Grades 7-12: Peer pressure, drug and alcohol abuse, self-expression and confidence, as well as responsibility.
The program can be presented as two back to back workshops (90 minutes) or a residency consisting of five to nine 45-minute classroom workshop sessions. Contact office for details.