To date, more than 1.4 million students have had the opportunity to see Trinity Rep shows and to take advantage of additional educational resources through Project Discovery. Our Marketing intern, Audrey Rowland, recently caught up with Paul Alexander, a former Project Discovery kid and proud alum to chat about his time in the program and how it still impacts his life today.
When Paul Alexander was in school, a field trip to a Project Discovery show at Trinity Rep was more than a chance to get out of class. For him, those student performances – of shows ranging from Pinter’s The Homecoming to the stage adaptation of Billy Budd – were a window into another world. “What Trinity did,” he says, “is open the doors to the written word. It was an experience that totally changed my outlook on words, on expression, on poetry.”
When he looks back on the impact of his participation in Project Discovery, Alexander can’t emphasize enough how much the program shaped his life. After first becoming a Project Discovery kid at age fifteen, he estimates that he saw at least six shows with the program. After that, he was so invested in theater that “it didn’t matter whether it was Project Discovery or not.” He had discovered a passion for storytelling that he never knew he had. Chuckling, he describes the process as “almost like being grabbed by the back of the neck and being shoved into something I had no anticipation of enjoying at all.”
The topic of self-discovery is something that he came back to again and again during our talk. “I don’t want to be overdramatic” he said. “But I can trace the beginnings of something important to me personally to this period, to that experience.” This new exposure to theater, which Alexander calls the “treasure in his head,” helped him to look forward to reading and to actively look for new and different stories.
With his own story as proof, Alexander reiterates the impact that access to theater can make in a young person’s life. “I would say that it’s one of the best investments public schools can make,” he says, emphasizing the importance of gifts targeted towards education. As a Project Discovery kid, he turned into an eager reader and analytical thinker, skills which have served him well throughout his professional and personal life. “When I see these young kids now, I have a feeling for who they are and what is going to happen to them,” he says. “I can’t support it enough.”