The High School Play Everyone’s Talking About Shows Why We Need More Arts Funding in Schools

Mar 26, 2019 12:00:00 AM


The sun can’t reach you but face-hugging and acid-spewing aliens can. Welcome, you’ve arrived at LV-426. Or have you? [pullquote]The drama club at New Jersey’s North Bergen High School have been getting all the accolades on the internet[/pullquote] for their self-funded stage adaptation of director Ridley Scott’s 1979 science fiction-horror classic “Alien.” They had it all: the “Space Jockey’s” gun turret seat, the face-joining aliens, the choking and paranoid atmosphere and, most importantly, a spindly main villain so malevolent and dominating that you can’t even believe it’s a kid under all the material.

Recycled Terror (But Fun!)

They did it all despite not having anything resembling a Hollywood budget. North Bergen’s drama club began rehearsals in September, when they held fundraising drives and started repurposing materials, creating special effects and even doing a bit of dumpster diving to make sure everything went off without a hitch. “This is going to sound really funny but [the set crew used] garbage essentially,” North Bergen drama club student Justin Pierson told on YouTube. That’s right, parts of those eggs, those rocks, that gun turret, that freaking enormous and terrifying Xenomorph: actual garbage. [pullquote position="right"]That’s resourcefulness right there.[/pullquote] For a school with a student body consisting of 90 percent students of color, it’s great to see celebrities calling for these kids to bring their talents to Broadway to perform their “Alien” show for wider audiences.  This is how you diversify the crews, creative teams and casts of future projects to ensure they represent all of America.

Creativity’s Great, But Money Makes It Easier

What the North Bergen kids pulled off is nothing short of astonishing. But it’s over, unless the district grants the drama club’s request for a third performance. Drama teacher Perfecto Cuervo told the neighborhood surrounding North Bergen High is poor, so they rake in all the cash they can—by themselves, just like so many other schools with high populations of students of color. “We fundraise for ourselves," he said. "The community doesn’t have a lot of money. I don’t think we can afford another production unless someone is willing to pick up the tab.” Until someone else picks up the tab, the drama club at North Bergen High will struggle to put on another production. They’ll have to scrape together the cash, by themselves, to wow audiences with any future shows. But that shouldn’t be the way things are. Every school deserves a chance to build something beautiful. (OK, this case was terrifying on purpose, but you get the idea.)

Rob Samuelson

Rob Samuelson is a Staff Writer at Education Post and Digital Media Manager for the brightbeam network.

The Feed


  • Why Math Identity Matters

    Lane Wright

    The story you tell yourself about your own math ability tends to become true. This isn’t some Oprah aphorism about attracting what you want from the universe. Well, I guess it kind of is, but...

  • What's an IEP and How to Ensure Your Child's Needs Are Met?

    Ed Post Staff

    If you have a child with disabilities, you’re not alone: According to the latest data, over 7 million American schoolchildren — 14% of all students ages 3-21 — are classified as eligible for special...

  • Seeking Justice for Black and Brown Children? Focus on the Social Determinants of Health

    Laura Waters

    The fight for educational equity has never been just about schools. The real North Star for this work is providing opportunities for each child to thrive into adulthood. This means that our advocacy...