Student Humanities Presentations
Our student matinees in the Humanities brings to life original productions based on classical beginnings or living history presentations.
The best-known production of our matinees in the Humanities is Indy In Revue: The Story of Indianapolis. This student matinee uses audiovisual tools, narration, dance and popular song to bring the story of Indianapolis to life. Indiana schoolchildren learn state history in the fourth grade, and this production enhances their curriculum with a focus on the city’s history, creativity and innovation. Shows are held at different venues throughout the city of Indianapolis – most recently at the historic Athenaeum and Herron High School.
In addition to Indianapolis students, fourth-graders from the metropolitan area’s seven contiguous counties and from Terre Haute and Evansville attend the Revue during field trips. Claude McNeal Productions often arranges additional outings, such as visits to the Indiana Historical Society, the Indiana State Museum or the Children’s Museum.
The Humanities Theatre Group has performed for more than 100,000 primary, secondary and higher education students. Other productions include:
• The Greeks: In the Beginning
• The Renaissance Era: Europe Awakens
• The Modern Era: The Age of Technology
• Painting the Universe: How the Humanities Shape Our World
• French Cabaret Masters
• Cigar City Chronicles: The Story of Tampa, performed for elementary, middle, and high school students in Tampa Bay, Florida
Experiencing History Where It Happened: Living History and Re-enactment as Public History Tools:
“Indy In Revue” is a living history of our capital city. It brings to life the people, sites, innovations and culture that make up the community’s collective memory. The production is used as a learning tool to allow our students and adults to experience history, and instead of just reading about it, they are watching the events unfold in front of their very eyes.
Living history presentations such as “Indy In Revue” have become an increasingly important tool for accomplishing the goal of presenting a community’s history and cultural memory to its ever-changing audiences in a manner that is attractive, engaging, and authentic. The show serves the dual function of serving both history and the community. Using living history presentations as a learning tool makes the process of contextualization much more effective for students. Connecting to place makes historical inquiry more accessible, and challenges the idea that history is an abstract concept far removed from the present. Learning the story of the events that occurred in a particular location and being able to witness the impact of those
events, enhance the learning experience, also allowing for the discourse of place in history, and providing a sensory experience beyond the written text.
Back in early 1993, author, playwright, founder and then Artistic Director of American Cabaret Theatre, Claude McNeal, wanted to create an original cabaret-style production that centered around the origins of our capital city. As an educator and artist, McNeal’s fascination with place, culture, and history has always been in the forefront of his original works. Around the same time, David Bodenhamer, Executive Director at the Polis Center at IUPUI (a research unit of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI), was putting together the first-ever
“Encyclopedia of Indianapolis”. McNeal, a tenured professor of English at that time with the School of Liberal Arts, then approached Mr. Bodenhamer about collaborating with our production team as a consultant on a new production entitled “Indy In Revue”. McNeal and his team spent the next two years researching and developing content for the production, with Bodenhamer helping to provide historical context and lending historical accuracy and authenticity. After an extensive rehearsal process, the production opened to the public as part of A.C.T.’s season of shows in September 1995.
For the next eleven years, “Indy In Revue” was presented annually to Indiana fourth-graders as part of our ongoing educational programming at the cabaret. From 2006-2009, presentations were held at the historic Madame Walker Theatre. In 2011 and 2012, we collaborated with Herron High School to present the show once again, this time as part of the annual “Spirit & Place Festival” sponsored by IUPUI.