JORDAN SCHWARTZ, 19, BLENDS PASSIONS FOR THEATRE, LANGUAGE

Children’s Bilingual Theatre founder Jordan Schwartz (left) and Liz Vitale

Children’s Bilingual Theatre founder Jordan Schwartz (left) and Liz Vitale are partnering to bring “Mr. Ooba’s TEAM” to metro audiences.
PHOTO/courtesy Jordan Schwartz

At the age of 10, Jordan Schwartz had an idea to bring bilingual theater to her school. A drama enthusiast since second-grade and a student of Spanish, Jordan thought that it would be fun and include more of her classmates.

Not long after those initial thoughts, the idea took off with The Children’s Bilingual Theater premier, which included 17 cast and crew members, from second grade to college-age, and toured four schools in Cobb County. Since 2004, Jordan has lead over 200 volunteers that have been bringing theatrical and costumed storytelling events to schools and venues like the Atlanta History Center, Fernbank and Zoo Atlanta.

With six bilingual shows and 15 literacy and storytelling events under her belt and prior partnerships with the Marietta Sixth-Grade Academy, Park Street Elementary, Atlanta Girls’ School and Sheltering Arms, Jordan wanted to continue her company’s work here while a sophomore at Bryn Mawr College, so she partnered with the Puppatoons and master puppeteer Liz Vitale to bring an anti-bullying puppet show to metro-area audiences.

As the first child ever named part of a Fellowship with the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, Jordan brought her personal challenge of having Turner’s syndrome, a congenital disability, together with her theatre background. Jordan wrote “Mr. Ooba’s TEAM,” a bilingual play that addresses the issues of bullying of disabled and medically fragile children and diversity in the classroom.

Liz and Jordan adapted the show for puppets, and Jordan launched a Kickstarter campaign that got her $650 as seed money for the project. Liz created original puppet characters and with funding in part from Target, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Nestle and Do Something.

The show is on and has been a hit at United Way’s City of Refuge and The Oakgrove Young Children’s School. “Mr. Ooba’s TEAM” will continue to tour to venues in metro Atlanta.

Jordan said that The Children’s Bilingual Theater has really grown with community support. Outreach has been sustained with grants and awards from the companies supporting “Mr. Ooba’s TEAM”, along with others, including the Atlanta Falcons, Puffin Foundation, state arts councils, individual donors and in-kind contributions.

Jordan was recently named as a “Build a Bear” Huggable Hero finalist, and has been selected to speak at TEDxYouth@TheBeltline at Zoo Atlanta on Nov. 19.

“I have raised over $54,000 to bring this programming to metro Atlanta and hope to be helping youth make a difference,” said Jordan. “I believe in young people and that young people have the power to lead.”

Editor’s note: The Children’s Bilingual Theater is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation. For more information visit childrensbilingualtheater.org or call (678) 939-2974.