In the fall of 2003, Waterwell co-founder Arian Moayed joined the faculty as an Acting teacher at the Professional Performing Art School (PPAS) on West 48th Street in Manhattan. Over the next several years, other Waterwell ensemble members began teaching and substituting there, Mr. Moayed and co-founder Tom Ridgely gave master classes in Devising, and two Waterwell shows – Marco Millions and #9 – were created and rehearsed almost entirely in the school’s auditorium/studios. A partnership was beginning to form.
PPAS is a New York City public school for 6-12th graders with an interest and an aptitude in the performing arts. Students take a full academic load in the morning and then have two hours of PA (performing arts) classes in the afternoon. What sets it apart from similar schools are its partnerships with arts organizations to deliver each discipline. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater delivers the Dance program, Rosie’s Theater Kids delivers Musical Theater, and the National Chorale delivers Vocal music. In 2009 Waterwell responded to a solicitation through the Department of Education for a new Drama vendor and was awarded the contract.
The Drama Program has grown quickly over the last six years, particularly in the number and nature of performance projects offered to the students. Now, in addition to two hours daily of studio work in Acting, Movement, Voice & Speech and History/Literature, each grade also completes at least one after school production helmed by outside professional artists and funded by outside sources. This sequence culminates with the New Works Lab, during which Waterwell commissions an emerging playwright to write a new play specifically for the senior class.
Today the Waterwell Drama Program @ PPAS serves over 200 of the most promising middle and high school students from all five boroughs. It is the only program in a New York City public school to offer specialized drama instruction across the seven years of both middle school and high school. The middle school program itself is one of only two such programs in the city and the only one in Manhattan.