Teacher, actor and playwright Meshaun Labrone Arnold has been working like mad to raise money for some of his drama students at Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School. In his second year as a teacher, Arnold is trying to make a big dream come true: He wants to get the kids in the school's drama club to the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland to perform their striking, creative production of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.
Set during the Iraq War, this Godot imagines Vladimir and Estragon as soldiers -- dead soldiers who don't realize they've lost their lives. The production was done during the past school year, and after Arnold (with the sponsorship of his Florida International University teacher and mentor Philip Church) applied to the American High School Theatre Festival (AHSTF) program to have the show done at Edinburgh, he got a yes.
Here's the deal, though: To get the kids, who are mostly from families of modest means, to Scotland will cost $88,000. The money buys airfare and lodging, a two-day stop in London for classes and tours and theater, then 10 days at the Edinburgh Festival next summer, where they'll give four performances of Godot. Arnold's motivation is to give his students the kind of world-expanding experience he has had working as an actor in London and Prague.
I have blogged about this before and am doing so again because the group has to raise another $3,000 toward its goal by Friday, Sept. 19. As Arnold points out, the tough economy and cuts in educational funding have made raising money harder than usual.