“Theater is a language through which human beings can engage in active dialogue on what is important to them. It allows individuals to create a safe space that they may inhabit in groups and use to explore the interactions which make up their lives. It is a lab for problem-solving, for seeking options, and for practicing solutions.”—Augusto Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed


The mission of Acting for Critical Thought is to offer DHS students the opportunity to grow both academically in all subjects—math, science, social studies, and language arts—artistically, and socially through the study of theater and drama.

The vision of Acting for Critical Thought is that through theater students will leave the program with the critical skills they need to live successful and meaningful lives—think critically, work collaboratively, communicate effectively, and contribute socially.


Robert Coverdell

The math and science teacher in the Acting for Critical Thought Project has been teaching at Downtown High School for 3 years. A Bay Area native and graduate of UCSC social-justice focused Masters in Education program, he integrates math and science into the project curriculum as well as his professional acting experience.

Charmaine Shuford

Bianca Fernandez


The American Conservatory Theater

In fall 2011, A.C.T. launched an intensive year-long pilot residency program with Downtown High School. Six years later, Downtown High School's Acting for Critical Thought students continue attend weekly acting classes in A.C.T.’s studios, attend all A.C.T. mainstage and conservatory productions, learn about backstage careers such as theater production and marketing, and write original monologues and 10-minute plays on socially relevant issues , which they perform at The Strand Theater every semester.

826 Valencia

Every semester, Downtown High School students in the Acting for Critical Thought project work with writing tutors from 826 Valencia on their monologues, 10-minute plays, and final analytical essays. Many of the students build close relationships with the 826 Valencia tutors and their writing improves immensely.