An oasis for those who love classic stories. Los Angeles Times


Life at a SMAT (Student Matinee)

By A Noise Within
November 11, 2016

Education Associate Leah Artenian going over the day’s schedule with the Education Team and volunteers.

A Noise Within’s Classics Live education program serves over 16,000 students each year. When you’re at the theatre, you might notice a school group or two chatting in the lobby or taking a class photo after the show. What you might not know is that we also host student matinee performances during the week! We invite schools from all over Los Angeles County (and beyond!)  to attend 10:30am field trip shows complete with pre-show activities and a post-show conversation with the actors.

Read on for a day in the life of a student matinee performance at ANW!

Well, first we have to rewind. The whole process really starts after our season announcement in April. While you might be getting ready to subscribe to the upcoming season or are attending a current production, our Education Department is hard at work reaching out to teachers and accepting bookings for the next year.  Most of our SMATs fill up early (before the season even begins!) with teachers calling our fabulous and accommodating education team during the summer.

But before you know it, it’s the day of the performance! November 2 was a student matinee of The Imaginary Invalid.

Student matinees all begin at 10:30am, so we ask that schools try to get to us between 9:30 and 10, leaving plenty of time for pre-show engagement and getting settled in.

Our first school group arrives!

9:30 AM: When a bus arrives, a staff member or volunteer is eagerly waiting to greet the class and welcome them into the building.  We have tables set up for students to drop off their backpacks and lunches, and lots of clean restrooms available (a must after a long bus ride!). The school’s designated point person will then lead the student group to their assigned area in preparations for pre-show engagement activities!

A student group engaging in student pre-show activities before the performance.

9:45 AM: Once a class is ready, they’re joined by some enthusiastic people wearing blue t-shirts– ANW’s skilled and experienced teaching artists. Our teaching artists are trained by Education Director Alicia Green and always ready to engage the students in fun and informative activities. Our goal is to get their creative juices flowing and their minds active for the show they are about to see. Activities are tailored to tie in themes and ideas present in the show and make concepts more tangible and relatable.

For The Imaginary Invalid, our two activities were “Hypochondriac Character Walks” and “Two Truths and a Lie”

Students leave their backpacks and lunches in our lobby for intermission.

The first activity asked students to think about how physicality plays into character creation. We talked about the “outside-in” approach to developing a character –which means beginning the process of character development based on physical cues. So, if the character always has a stomach ache, how might that affect how they walk? How they move through the world? How they interact with others? Their general attitude? Etc. We asked students to think about and pay attention to the physicality of characters in the show and what physical aspects might influence each character and in what ways. Then we asked students to walk around and gave them a succession of physical ailments (migraine, nausea, toothache, broken leg, etc.) that might influence how they walk, move, interact, etc.

ANW Education Associate Leah Artenian greeting the students

Two Truths and a Lie – this activity asked students to think about the nature of deception. If you have to tell two truths and a lie about yourself to your classmates, who may know you pretty well, can you find a lie that they will believe as true? What makes a lie more believable?  How do you deceive those who know you well? Also, if you are being lied to, what makes you more willing to believe a lie? If you are told something you want to hear (i.e. when Beline tells Argan she loves him), are you more likely to believe it even if the lie is obvious to others? Pay attention to where/when in the play characters deceive one another (or even themselves), and why.

Students heading into the theatre.

10:15 AM:  Students are invited into the theater, where they receive a special program with information about the show and excerpts from our study guides.

10:30 AM: The show begins at 10:30 after a quick greeting from our Education Department. For this show, Education Associate Leah Artenian welcomed our visiting students, teachers, and chaperones.

The Imaginary Invalid cast members Kelsey Carthew, Jeremy Rabb, Josh Odsess-Rubin, Rafael Goldstein, Deborah Strang, and Apollo Dukakis answer questions during the post-show conversation.

11:30 AM: At intermission, students come upstairs into the lobby where staff members are available with surveys and bowls of candy. The surveys have been developed together with a professional contractor in support of our Classics Live! Program evaluation this year. Students who complete a survey about their experience get a piece of candy! During this time, students will also often eat their lunches in the lobby or on the grass in front of the theatre.

11:45PM: Intermission ends! Students then return to the theater for the second act of the show.

1:00PM: When the show ends, the actors come back out onstage for a post-show conversation. We always get great questions and the actors love the chance to engage with student audiences. There are usually too many questions for us to get to everyone, but we always offer students the option to email us their questions or tweet them to @anw_education.

1:20PM: It’s the end of the SMAT! Students and teachers file out of the theater and back into their buses after an engaging and exciting day of performance arts education.

Students leaving the theatre after the show!

Interested in bringing a student group?

To make a reservation for a student matinee or regular performance for students, call or email our education department: 626.356.3104 |

To learn more about all of our education programs, click here!

Classics Live! is possible due to the generous support of individual donors as well as institutional support. Thank you. Click here to learn how you can help.

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