Kim Baldonado, Tom Bravo
With the help of BAFTA LA, students from Washington Preparatory High School will stage Shakespeare's classic "A Midsummer Night s Dream." Kim Baldonado reports for NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on June 8, 2012.
Once again, Shakespeare will be performed in a park this summer. But this isn't your typical drama, and the performers aren't typical actors.
"We have former gang bangers in this crew, and they are all going to class," according to Dr. Melanie Andrews, director of the drama program at Washington Prep High School.
Washington Prep is an inner city school where 40 percent of the students come from families who live below the poverty level.
"We have a valedictorian in the group," according to Dr. Andrews, "but we also have kids who are homeless in this group."
Now these students are coming together to perform Shakespeare's comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Being a part of this production, says Dr. Andrews, is life changing for the students.
And they're getting some help from professional actors from BAFTA, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, which also pays for the entire production.
"I've seen them develop as actors," says Katy Haber of BAFTA. "I've seen them develop as individuals."
BAFTA members volunteer to mentor the students one on one.
"The language, the thous and hast, and all of that. It's really hard to get in the pronunciation," according to student Marivel Nava.
Of the 40 seniors in the class, 38 are going to a four year university.
BAFTA is now in talks with LAUSD to bring the program to other schools.
This production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on June 9 and 10 at 3:30 p.m. at Ladera Height’s Park located at 6027 Ladera Heights Boulevard in Los Angeles.