The Process

It all begins with Silk Road Rising's highly-qualified teaching artists, who meet with classroom teachers in-advance to create a partnership that adapts our curriculum to the teacher's needs, classroom environment, and curriculum.

From there, high school students participate in interactive theatre lessons and gain a deeper understanding of empathy, playwriting, and theatre through a hands-on approach. Students apply this knowledge when writing their 10-minute plays, with the intent to explore an issue in their community in all its complexity and humanity.

After completing these plays, professional actors perform student work aloud as staged readings, that are recorded and edited by a professional videographer. The videos of these readings are then uploaded online so students can share their work with friends and family members, broadening the reach of our program beyond the classroom.

The Curriculum

Silk Road Rising’s EPIC (Empathic Playwriting Intensive Course) is a 20-session arts-integrated education program designed to engage a student’s imagination and help them express it through drama. 

The EPIC curriculum is designed to meet multiple high school Common Core Standards each day including:

  • All Common Core Writing Standards
  • All Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards
  • All Common Core Language Standards
  • Most Common Core Reading Standards for Literature
  • Most Common Core Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • Most Common Core Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies
  • Most Common Core Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects

EPIC also meets most of the Illinois Fine Arts Drama Performance Descriptors and most of the Illinois Standards for Social/Emotional Learning. With the assistance of a teaching artist and the classroom teacher, students will take part in:

  • Differentiating between conflict and argument
  • Developing unique characters
  • Using improvisation
  • Defining civic engagement and understanding its role in theatre
  • Critiquing plays in peer workshop
  • Learning play formatting
  • Applying improv skills to scenework  
  • Understanding the importance of stakes in creating engaging theatre
  • Exploring the process by which ideas develop into plays
  • Writing dialogue

At the end of 20 sessions, through EPIC, students will have created an original 10-minute play, which will be performed as a staged reading by professional actors. Students will also have begun to acquire empathic leadership, as well as confidence and an understanding of complex interpersonal and organizational challenges.