What is TNT?

Bishop Arts Theatre Center TNT (Teens in Theatre) apprenticeship program was created to foster and support the next generation through art education, peer mentoring abilities, and free expression.

What is our goal?

TNT’S objective is to touch students with the arts in a way that informs the rest of their academic interests and transforms their sense of personal potential.

What is our impact?

As a result of the program, students have been able to apply text interpretation and critical thinking to help improve their reading skills. The program has a proven record of success. In previous years, ninety-one percent of the students enrolled passed the Reading section of the STAAR test. The improvements in academics for our TNT students continue to rise.

Program History

In 2010, shortly after our building was donated to our nonprofit, parents wanted a safe space for their students to participate in productive, constructive activities. TNT was born out of necessity to serve families in our community. We partnered with the Dallas County Juvenile Department, the Volunteer Center of North Texas, and local students to not only teach participants how to perform on stage but also the design elements of theatre. For six weeks, our TNT students studied classical text and culminated with an abridged version of a Shakespearean play performed by the students.

In September 2018, TNT expanded to include a partnership with the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund and Pen America where the students presented Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret. The program was created to raise awareness around issues of censorship and free expression in theater. “Banned Together” was a celebration of songs and scenes previously challenged or censored on American stages. Members from TADA! Youth Ensemble in NYC and special guest artists will perform selections from “Cabaret”, “Chicago”, “Almost, Maine”, “My Name is Rachel Corrie” and many more. In addition to the performance in New York City ‘Banned Together’ was performed across the country in Dallas, Miami, Chicago, and San Francisco also as a part of Banned Books Week.

Emphasizing leadership skills and civic engagement, students from Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, D.A. Hulcy STEAM Middle School, and the Dallas County Juvenile Department worked diligently through the creative process for six weeks. One of the most treasured experiences of the program was that our TNT students performed alongside Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright, Doug Wright who also happens to be a native of Dallas, TX.

In 2021 TNT evolved into our Teen Advisory Council. The Teen Advisory Council created a safe inclusive space for teens to engage in honest and challenging dialogue. Through peer-to-peer mentorship, youth use art as a tool to address social issues affecting their community and beyond. Led by young creatives, the students were given a seat at the table to ensure that the youth voice is present during yearly planning for the season while establishing a global movement of uncensored self-expression.

Through collaborations with organizations like the Dallas County Juvenile Department and Volunteer Now, teens were recruited to help reduce the rate of recidivism.