The SERIES attracted media attention in 2021 for our success responding to the well-publicized challenges of distance learning. Los Angeles area news coverage came from KTLA, highlighting our ability to meet the most urgent needs of students — isolated in the pandemic — by engaging them in an inspiring, high impact drama-based project: SPIRIT SERIES On Screen. National podcast Quarantine Creatives focused its interview with program founders on the importance of the SERIES mission in this time of hardship and the program’s 20-year history of equipping students to meet challenge and adversity at a crossroads in their lives. SPIRIT SERIES was also featured in online magazine VoyageLA and will air on Spectrum News 1 Monday, June 7, 2021.
Spectrum News 1 LA West
SPIRIT SERIES on KTLA
Richard Strauss founded Spirit Series in 2001 and serves as National Executive Director, while Leslie is National Co-Director. Their program brings drama-based learning to children in grades four through eight. They discuss with Heath the origins of the program, how it builds confidence and teamwork, and the challenges of moving an in-person program to a remote workflow once the pandemic closed schools.
VoyageLA: Meet Spirit Series in West LA
Richard, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
SPIRIT SERIES began out of personal tragedy. When my daughter was 10, we lost her Mom to cancer. So as a young girl, she began to ask the biggest questions in life, like “why do bad things happen to good people?” I was a professional screenwriter at the time, did not write for children and had no intention of working with young people. But I found nothing in my daughter’s life designed to help her meet this kind of hardship and adversity. I knew that stories can inspire, and was haunted by a question: could the lives of history’s greatest heroes—their challenges and triumphs–inspire kids on their journey to young adulthood? Could these stories be told as inspirational one-act plays that students study, co-write, stage and perform? When I finally realized that I could write these plays for young adults rather than children, I knew I had to give it a go.