Hugh Fletcher is the Theatre Director at Dr. Roland Patterson Middle School. He is also the Jr. Thespian Troupe Director of Troupe 89019. He has been teaching since 2002, and founded the Theatre Department in 2008. He is also a playwright, actor, singer and director. He’s had two plays produced professionally and has worked as an acting teacher and coach at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York. He is a proud alumnus of Thespian Troupe 2888.
From a Profile in the Educational Theatre Association website
When I was 12 years old, I came to visit my family who lived in New York. My sister took me on a tour of Manhattan, culminating in a Broadway show. It was supposed to be Jelly’s Last Jam, but that was sold out. We ended up seeing Miss Saigon instead. I had never seen anything like that in my life. For me, everything was perfect. I was a very musical-oriented child, but I really had no inclination toward acting. When I saw how acting and singing could come together in this one space in time, I was hooked. Plus, there was a helicopter onstage.
My program is unique because it’s very traditional within a very non-traditional environment. The program almost shouldn’t work. Our school is in a high-crime, high poverty area. Many of my students are English Language Learners, and some have learning disabilities. Somehow, year after year, everything comes together through sheer determination and hard work. Most of my students come in with very little theatre exposure or stage experience, but within three years, they become well versed in multiple facets of the theatre.
The great thing about their inexperience is that there are few preconceived notions about “Drama Club” or “Drama Kids.” There is no particular type. As a result, friendships are formed between kids who otherwise might not have had anything do with each other. I also think the demands and expectations I have of my students is unique at the middle school level. We always do full length shows for our Main Stage productions. Students are required to delve into the literature at a very high level. In essence, we create Theatre in a Middle School, rather than Middle School Theatre. Our musical director, who plays for other school productions around the city, recently told me that he finds our program the most rewarding to work with because of the fact that the students aren’t spoon-fed or spoiled. They take criticism because they don’t have this notion that they already know everything. As a result, they are far more resilient when they face challenges.