Michael Bobbitt is an African-American theater producer with a unique mission. As the black father of a Vietnamese adopted child, Bobbitt understands the need for culture that celebrates diversity while providing role models for children of color. As the producing artistic director of Adventure Theatre in Maryland near Washington, D.C, Bobbitt uses his unique role to create plays for kids interwoven with teaching tools that broaden their horizons, while introducing them to the importance of philanthropy.
In an interview with BlackGivesBack.com, a web site that showcases African-American philanthropy, Bobbitt explained the nature of his mission and his latest project. His coming production, The Snowy Day, is based on a children’s book of the same name that was the first to feature an African-American child as its main character. Now celebrating its 50th anniversary of publication, The Snowy Day will be presented as a musical adaptation by Adventure Theatre premiering on January 20 and running through February 12, 2012.
Plays produced by Bobbitt incorporate interactive elements such as emails sent to attending children before the shows full of educational elements. Plus, “many of our plays appear on school reading lists,” and “we… cross reference our shows with the core curriculum in the schools,” Bobbitt told the black philanthropy site. “When schools come to our theatre for field trips, the teachers are provided study guides. These are interactive guides with lesson plans and other exercises that teachers can use in the classroom before or after they see a play.”
In these ways, Bobbitt uses his productions to entertain kids and enlighten. “Independent studies show that performing arts such as those offered by Adventure Theatre can have positive impacts on a child’s socio-economic growth, or generally speaking their prosperity,” Bobbitt said. “By providing a creative outlet through performing arts, Adventure Theatre is helping to deter delinquent behavior in youths.”
The philanthropy portion of Adventure Theatre’s projects is another innovative element. “The other thing that we do is to tie our main stage shows into some sort of community engagement project,” Bobbitt told the philanthropy web site. “So, we partner with other non-profit arts, humanities and social service organizations.”
“For example, when we produced GO DOG GO by PD Eastman, we partnered with the Montgomery County Maryland Humane society to host a Dog Adoption Day,” Bobbitt continued. “The Humane Society drove their mobile adoption unit to the theatre and we successfully helped them adopt out 8 animals.”
Learn more about how Michael Bobbitt uses his Adventure Theatre to promote giving and cultural awareness to kids on the Black Gives Back blog.