New Podcast: There’s No Place Like Art

The podcast offers opportunities to feature how ordinary people are doing extraordinary things in The Arts to make our world a richer, deeper, better place to live.  In these divisive times, I ask audiences to tune in and listen to how The Arts transforms people’s lives and remind us how vitally important a role The Arts play in tapping into our humanity.

Here is the download link to listen on your phone:

The first episode introduces the framework:  having guests on the show to talk about their programs; sharing their testimonials on The First 100 Stories; and closes with a “mystery” celebrity guest who shares his/her experience on how the arts played a role in their career.  Dan McCormick, playwright, The Violin, talked about how he made the leap from finance major to Off—Broadway playwright!  He’s fascinating and so is his play which is at 59E58 through October 14th.

Looking forward to hearing from my NYU Ed Theatre family and sharing their stories on how the Arts transforms lives!

Thank you!

Frances McGarry, Ph.D.
Posted on | Posted in Alumni News |

The Man Behind the Curtain

Dr. John Newman will perform his solo play The Man Behind the Curtain on Saturday, September 23 @ 2p at the United Solo Festival on 42nd street at Theatre Row in NYC.

The main character in the play is L. Frank Baum, best known as the author of The Wizard of Oz and 13 other Oz books. The play is set on New Year’s Eve the stage of the Hudson Theatre as one of Baum’s popular theatrical productions has been abruptly cancelled because of its excessive production costs. The “Royal Historian of Oz” offers the expectant audience his own story of how he “found his way to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Before finding his calling as a writer of children’s stories, Baum struggled to make his living as an actor, director, store-owner, baseball team secretary, small-town newspaper editor, reporter, and traveling salesman. In the play, L. Frank Baum tells how each of his professions developed his abilities as a storyteller and how he transformed his dreams and nightmares into his best known story. His life intersects with American notables including author Charles Dickens, inventor Thomas Edison, and his mother-in-law, suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage.

Newman earned a PhD in Educational Theater at New York University, with concentrations in theater for young audiences and playwriting. He has been a professor of theatre at Utah Valley University and Director of the Noorda Theatre Center for Children and Youth since 2010, after teaching and directing theatre for eighteen years at Highland High School in Salt Lake City. As a playwright, Newman has created authorized stage adaptations of novels by Newbery medalists Avi, Paul Fleischman, Richard Peck, and Jean Lee Latham.

The Man Behind the Curtain was premiered during Dr. Newman’s fall 2016 residency at the Open Eye Theater in Margaretville, New York under the direction of Dr. Tania Myren. Newman has also performed the play at Utah Valley University, the Mercury Theatre in Provo, and at Chapman University in Orange County, California. He has also performed it in places where L. Frank Baum lived and wrote, including Syracuse, New York and Coronado, California. Newman will performing the play at the national conference of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education in New Orleans in August and at the United Solo Festival on 42nd Street in New York City in September.

Announcing ArtsPraxis Volume 4 Issue 1

ArtsPraxis Volume 4 Issue  1 has been published.

I am proud to present this new issue of ArtsPraxis, featuring articles in response to the guiding questions and themes established for the NYU Forum on Educational Theatre in April 2016, which included applied theatre, drama in education, and theatre for young audiences. As a number of authors submitted articles under the heading of youth theatre, I curated a stand-alone section for this topic as well as I felt it wise to highlight the breadth of research in this area at this time.

A great asset of the 2016 Forum on Educational Theatre was the degree to which the NYU Program in Educational Theatre was able to reconnect with our global community. In large part, this was due to the efforts of Philip Taylor following his experience at the International Drama in Education Research Institute in Singapore in 2015. Under the direction of Prue Wales, it became evident at that event that even in this time of inescapable electronic connections, there is nothing that can take the place of face-to-face fellowship. Just this week, we are coming off of our latest international conference, the NYU Forum on Ethnodrama, looking at the intersection between theatre art and arts-based research paradigms. After many months of political duress, we communed. We shared art, research, and activism.

In the spirit of maintaining our international dialogue in these troubled times, this issue of ArtsPraxis continues the conversation. Our contributors present scholarship from Africa, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. I hope that you find this work as inspirational as I have and that you consider joining us next spring at the 2018 NYU Forum on Performance as Activism.

Volume 3, Issue 1 of ArtsPraxis is available for download here.

ArtsPraxis Volume 4, Issue 1

ISSN: 1552-5236

Editorial

JONATHAN JONES

 

Responsivity in Applied Theatre Practitioner Expertise: Introducing Identifying Patterns and Names

KAY HEPPLEWHITE

ABSTRACT

This article outlines a research project investigating the expertise of applied theatre practitioners. Summarising some of the research approaches and findings, a conceptualization of ‘responsivity’ is proposed to encapsulate the blended expertise of those artists that work in community, participatory and applied settings. The ‘practice responsive’ research methodology utilizing ‘reflective dialogues’ with practitioners is explained and the resulting artists’ commentaries are embedded throughout. I outline how reflection and response thread through a conceptualization of applied theatre in literatures, and discuss how these themes informed both the method and the findings of my research. Whilst offering namings for patterns found common to practitioners operating across diverse contexts, the article also acknowledges how naming can close down understanding of the complex operations and qualities of the practitioner. I suggest a theoretical proposition of ‘__’ (underscore) to open up understanding of the workers and the work of applied theatre, in order to allow further insight to their expertise. The proposal concludes by arguing how the practitioners’ developmental response to the work enhances applied theatre’s beneficial objectives for participants.

 

Making Theatre in Communities: A Search for Identify, Coherence, and Cohesion

JOHN SOMERS

ABSTRACT

Traditionally, theatre was created and performed in communities to celebrate religious and other significant aspects of shared community life. Many such customs possessed a quasi-religious identity in which theatre depictions were thought to appease those spiritual forces which controlled the lives and fortunes of mere humans. In the UK and the Western world more generally, the cohesiveness of community life has lessened as families become more self-sufficient. Until relatively recently, rural communities in South West England were dominated by the farming industry. The land of many farms has been merged and the farmhouses sold to relatively well-off incomers. They often operate a self-sufficient life, sending their children to private schools outside the community and engaging in leisure pursuits which take them out of the community in which they live. Thus, community cohesion is weakened and the opportunities for cooperative and communal action lessened. Theatre has the potential to bring disparate members of a community together in common purpose, providing a forum in which new and lasting relationships can be formed. If the dramatised stories have their roots in the identity and history of the community in which they are made, long-term residents have ways of sharing their knowledge with the ‘newcomers’.

 

The Long Game: Progressing the Work from Thesis to Practice

LINDEN WILKINSON

ABSTRACT

This paper discusses the evolution of significant findings made within the context of a doctoral research project and the structures that developed to share these findings through workshops for students and teachers. As the research concerned an 1838 Australian Aboriginal massacre and the construction of a memorial to commemorate this event one hundred and sixty-two years later, the aim of the project was to locate a reconciliation narrative. The project failed to do so, because ultimately in the words of the participants the memorial was seen as a beginning and not an ending.

Nevertheless this understanding did deliver powerful insights into the complex nature of reconciliation within a dominant settler culture. And it was felt that sharing these insights was worth pursuing. 

Central to the doctoral research was the creation of a verbatim theatre play, therefore the workshops relied on drama techniques to establish through affect new ways of knowing shared history. However the execution of the content proved challenging. Because of the way settler history continues to be understood, engagement with the intellect via political correctness as opposed to the imagination was problematic. The necessity of prioritizing the imagination became as much of a learning curve for workshop facilitators as workshop participants.

 

Discovering a Planet of Inclusion: Drama for Life-Skills in Nigeria

KAITLIN O. K. JASKOLSKI

ABSTRACT

This paper explores the on-going development of a Drama for Life-Skills project in Lagos, Nigeria, which embraces aspects of applied & educational theatre practices. Using neurodevelopmental disability assessments and standards, the project creates a simultaneous balance of teaching and learning life skills in the disability community. It focuses on work currently being done with students of the Children’s Development Centre Lagos, incorporating theatre practices into the daily living activities of adolescents with disabilities with the goal of gaining increased life skills. In developing their most recent production, Discovering a Planet of Inclusion, members of the Centre team up with teaching artists, therapists and community members to teach, learn, practice and incorporate life skills with theatrical performances designed for schools and community centers throughout Nigeria.  Company members with disabilities (including autism, cerebral palsy, and various genetic disorders) perform with the hope of showcasing their abilities, ending stigma, and inspiring opportunities for the disability community throughout the nation. The paper will include anecdotes and analyzation from the performance praxis, development of advocacy and vocationally-based theatre performances, and ways to incorporate disability therapies (occupational, physical, multisensory, communication) into theatrical performances. The paper also discusses the importance of inclusion in destigmatizing disability and the cognitive benefits of applied theatre within communities.

 

The Evolution of Monologue as an Education

SCOTT WELSH

ABSTRACT

Performance is social theory, or it can become so, when we use it as a means to understand social phenomena rather than merely viewing it as a spectacle or for entertainment (Brook, 1972). Theatre that explores domestic violence (Welsh, 2014), homelessness (Welsh, 2014) or the plight of refugees (Robinson, 2015) are all examples of dramatic processes  becoming social theory. There are many more examples such as the work of Lloyd Jones or Pina Bausch, both of whom use experimental theatre as a means of educating, understanding and criticising society (Marshall, 2002; Pendergast, 2001). This article explores the relationship between theatre and education in three somewhat diverse contexts. Firstly, the autobiographical monologue, The Outcaste Weakly Poet Stage Show, describes experience in a conversational style. Experience and conversation are inevitably educational, that is, being is learning and listening is learning. Secondly, I explore the practice of monologue writing with a sample group of Australian school students on the subject of social labelling, reinforcing the idea that theatre practice is education by applying it to a classroom setting. Finally, I examine a monologue writing workshop conducted with a group of teachers-in-training, revealing the potential of monologues to foster empathy among teachers and their most difficult students. Theatre then becomes a source of learning and philosophical reflection for audiences, a way of practising social learning in a school setting and increasing emotional intelligence, empathy and communication between teachers in training and their students.

 

Noise as Queer Dramaturgy: Towards a Reflexive Dramaturgy-as-Research Praxis in Devised Theatre for Young Audiences

JESSICA M.  KAUFMAN

ABSTRACT

Dramaturgy is often considered the work of the ‘neutral outside eye’, but in devised theatre, the dramaturg is embedded within. This requires creative solutions for how a devising dramaturg might navigate engagement with the totality of their work—the piece, the devising process, and the context—from their own position within all three. In this article, I will recount and re-examine my work as dramaturg-researcher devising Martha and the Event Horizon. The research inquiry suggests a praxis of dramaturgy-as-research inspired by Home-Cook’s model of noise as a function of attention and Sullivan’s (2003) poststructuralist analysis of queerness as both being and doing, wherein the devising dramaturg embodies the queer doing to take an external perspective on their work via the critical context. Examinations of the devisor’s relationship to spectators by practitioner-researchers Goode (2011) and Reason (2010) respond to the research question and suggest a non-linear model within which the audience experiences meaning through Boenisch’s (2010) reflexive parallax. Placing these research outcomes within Bryon’s (2014) ‘active aesthetic’ and Nelson’s (2013) practice as research model, I propose the dramaturgy-as-research praxis as the key to a rigorous, flexible framework for constructing diverse avenues for meaning-making in devised theatre, particularly applicable to audience-driven work.

 

Children’s Theatre: A Brief Pedagogical Approach

DENNIS ELUYEFA

ABSTRACT

There are several theories as to what constitutes children’s theatre. This diversity exists because the term is used as a literal description of theatre that involves children in one way or the other – theatre for children, theatre with children, and theatre by children. This complexity means there is a need to specify the sense in which the term is being used. There is no universal agreement within academic discourse on the parameters in which the term should be defined. While some scholars suggest age as a defining factor, others think it should be decided by the performers who design a piece of theatre based on their knowledge of the children audience. What is children’s theatre? What should be the level of involvement for children? This paper is not a systematic review of the discipline and it is not an attempt to re/define children’s theatre. Rather, it is about a pedagogical approach to creating a piece of theatre for children between the age of 4 and 10 that can enable them to learn and be morally developed while being entertained at the same time. In this paper children’s theatre is the term that will be used throughout.

 

Feeling Blue: An Investigative Apparatus

CLARE HAMMOOR

ABSTRACT

This auto-ethnographic inquiry explores found and constructed apparatuses in the production of a devised clown show with 3rd-6th grade children at Blue School in New York City. Through a playful negotiation between artifacts, theory, and memory, this essay works to untangle the production of meaning and the possibilities of children’s theatre. Drawing from Agamben’s theorizations of apparatus, Hammoor writes into knowing and understanding the frameworks he built and discovered in directing a sad clown show with children.

 

Participatory Aesthetics: Youth Performance as Encounter

PAMELA BAER

ABSTRACT

In this paper the notion of a participatory aesthetic is developed by exploring how a collaborative and creative process provides opportunities for young people to engage in an act of becoming in relation to one another, building powerful and affective art work that is not bound by the conventions of traditional forms of theatre and art making. The paper begins with a discussion on the role of affect and participation in applied theatre, offering a theoretical framework that is used to analyze two case studies. The first is a project in Accra, Ghana that resulted in a youth-led documentary film about HIV/AIDS and gender relationships. The second is a YouTube based applied theatre project with LGBTQ youth in Toronto, Canada. In both case studies the paper demonstrates the power of dialogue in building a participant driven aesthetic rendering of theatre for social change. The paper concludes stating that a participatory aesthetic is a deeply visceral and vulnerable encounter that builds important pedagogy through affective artistic engagement.

 

From Les Mis to Annie, Jr.: A Discussion of Dramaturgical Adaptation for Musical Theatre in Education and Accessibility of Musical Theatre to Youth

SEAN MAYES

ABSTRACT

As an arts educator, it is inspiring to have access to the spoils of the art of musical theatre to engage and captivate young minds and artistic hearts. In providing an artistic output, one affords both the satisfaction of involvement in a collaborative art coupled with the lasting gift of community and artistic inspiration. Regrettably, the endeavour towards providing an accessible dramatic medium can prove challenging for the best of theatre & music pedagogues and artists alike. Musical theatre becomes increasingly more difficult as both musical and dramatic requirements needed for its execution modify.

With these constraints, youth face obstacles in exploring many works of the genre they love faithfully. As educators, the responsibility in maintaining accessibility is tremendous. Improper attention to the usage of the vocal instrument without regard of these developments can cause irreparable damage. Limited access to works for youth and negligible adaptation risk staleness and disinterest.

How might the educating artist continually provide an accessible medium of musical theatre to the young performer? From a dramatic & musical lens, this paper discusses the responsibility of the educator in identifying and addressing the unique challenges confronting young performers via the art of musical theatre.

——————————-

ArtsPraxis Volume 4, Issue 1 looks to engage members of the global Educational Theatre community in the ongoing dialogue about where we have been and where we are going. This call for papers was released concurrently with ArtsPraxis Volume 3 and the submission deadline for Volume 4, Issue 1 was February 1, 2017.

Dr. Jonathan Jones, New York University
Editor
jonathan.jones@nyu.edu
steinhardt.nyu.edu/music/artspraxis

Editorial Board:

Amy Cordileone, New York University, USA
Norifumi Hida,
 Toho Gakuen College of Drama and Music, Japan
Byoung-joo Kim,
 Seoul National University of Education, South Korea
Ross Prior,
 University of Wolverhampton, UK
Nisha Sajnani,
 New York University, USA
Daphnie Sicre,
 Borough of Manhattan Community College, USA
Prudence Wales,
 Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Hong Kong
James Webb,
 Bronx Community College, USA

NYU Educational Theatre Presents 2017 Swortzell Innovator Awards to Laurie Brooks and Johnny Saldaña

NYU Steinhardt’s Program in Educational Theatre has named Laurie Brooks and Johnny Saldaña the recipients of the 2017 Swortzell Innovator Awards, which recognize outstanding contributions and sustained service to the field of educational theatre.

Laurie Brooks and Johnny Saldaña are the winners of the 2017 Swortzell Innovator Award

The Swortzell Innovator Awards were established in 2016 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Program in Educational Theatre and honor its visionary founders, the late Lowell and Nancy Swortzell. The inaugural award winners were Lynda Zimmerman, Rebecca Brown Adelman, Trent Norman, and Jay DiPrima.

“The Program in Educational Theatre is thrilled to bestow Laurie Brooks and Johnny Saldaña with the Swortzell Innovator Award not only for their exceptional work in the field, but to honor their ongoing commitment to actively sharing their high quality expertise with others,” said David Montgomery, director of the Program in Educational Theatre at NYU Steinhardt.

Johnny Saldaña has been named the winner of the 2017 Swortzell Innovator Award for outstanding and sustained service to the field of ethnodrama and qualitative research. Saldaña will be presented with his award at the NYU Forum on Ethnodrama, which takes place April 21-22, 2017.

Saldaña is professor emeritus from Arizona State University’s School of Film, Dance, and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. He has authored, co-authored, and edited eight books on qualitative research and ethnodrama including Longitudinal Qualitative Research: Analyzing Change Through Time and Ethnotheatre: Research from Page to Stage.

Saldaña’s works have been cited and referenced in more than 4,300 research studies conducted in over 120 countries in disciplines such as education, medicine and health care, technology and social media, business and economics, government and social services, fine arts, social sciences, human development, and communication.

Laurie Brooks has been named the winner of the 2017 Swortzell Innovator Award for outstanding and sustained service to the field of Theatre for Young Audience. Brooks’ award will be presented at the 20th anniversary of NYU’s New Plays for Young Audiences, which takes places June 10-25, 2017.

Brooks is an award-winning playwright and fiction author. She has received numerous awards and grants including TCG National Theatre Artists Residency Program (The Coterie Theatre), AT&T FirstStage award, three Distinguished Play Awards and Charlotte Chorpenning Cup from American Alliance for Theatre and Education, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Irish Arts Council Grants (Graffiti Theatre Company). Brooks’ Lies and Deceptions Quartet for young adults includes The Wrestling Season, commissioned by The Coterie Theatre, developed at New Visions/New Voices, and featured at The Kennedy Center’s One Theatre World 2000. Additional award-winning plays include Deadly Weapons, The Tangled Web, and The Riddle Keeper, commissioned by Graffiti Theatre in Ireland; Selkie: Between Land and Sea, developed at New Visions/New Voices; Brave No World and Jason Invisible, commissioned by and premiered at The Kennedy Center; Devon’s Hurt, The Match Girl’s Gift, A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas, Franklin’s Apprentice, The Lost Ones, Triangle, Atypical Boy, and All of Us.

Brooks has been an assistant professor, playwright in residence, and literary manager for NYU’s New Plays for Young Audiences. She has served as playwright in residence for the HYPE Institute at The Alley Theatre in Houston, artist in residence at Arizona State University, and has taught at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and The University of Texas at Austin.

Brooks’ new play, Now Comes the Dust, will be staged at New Plays for Young Audiences in June, where she will also be part of a 20th anniversary roundtable event and panel discussion to explore emergent directions in writing and producing works.

EdD Student Receives Empire State Excellence in Teaching Program

Congratulations to incoming EdD student and ETED alum Jamie Cacciola-Price for being one of the first recipients of the Empire State Excellence in Teaching Program which recognizes teachers across New York who are successfully preparing a new generation of learners for the future. The program honors outstanding individuals who exemplify the highest standards of teaching, working to foster creativity, instill a love of learning, and inspire independent thinking and student initiative.

“New York State has thousands of excellent teachers who prepare our students for the future and help them reach their full potential,” Governor Cuomo said when he announced the award in May 2016. “This new program will recognize our most outstanding educators, while supporting their professional growth. I commend all teachers for their dedication to making a difference in the lives of students across the state.”

Each year, the Empire State Excellence in Teaching Program will recognize teachers from 10 different regions of New York, spanning from the North Country to New York City. Public school teachers are eligible to apply for recognition. Any member of the public can nominate a teacher by filling out a recommendation. Teachers who were nominated submitted an application for review by a panel which included:

  • Kevin Casey, Executive Director, School Administrators Association of NYS
  • Catalina Fortino, Vice President of the New York State United Teachers
  • Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers
  • Robert Reidy, Executive Director of the NYS Council of School Superintendents
  • Bonnie Russell, President of the NYS Parent Teacher Association
  • Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor of SUNY

Honorees received a $5,000 stipend to support their professional development interests and will also be invited to meet with university, workforce and policy leaders across the state to share their expertise and insights.

Swortzell Innovator Awards Presented at 50th Anniversary Alumni Celebration

L to R: John Patrick Shanley, Jay DiPrima, Trent Norman, Rebecca Brown Adelman, and Lynda Zimmerman

The planning committee for the 2016 Forum on Educational Theatre accepted nominations to honor emerging and seasoned theatre arts practitioners, educators, and thought-leaders changing and impacting our field with their work, reflecting the qualities and values modeled by Nancy and Lowell Swortzell, founders of The Program in Educational Theatre at New York University 50 years ago.

Nominees represented excellence in at least one of the following areas:

  • Drama in Education, Applied Theatre, or Theatre for Young Audiences

At the 50th Anniversary Alumni celebration, the Program acknowledged the recipients of the 2016 Swortzell Innovator Awards:

In recognition of excellence in Drama in Education, the Program honored Lynda Zimmerman, co-founder of the Creative Arts Team, the oldest and largest Educational Theatre Non-profit in the United States.

In recognition of excellence in Applied Theatre, the Program honored Rebecca Brown Adelman and Trent Norman, co-founders of Affinity Arts, an applied theatre company dedicated to positive social change in Colorado and neighboring states.

In recognition of excellence in Theatre for Young Audiences, the Program honored Jay DiPrima who has successfully nurtured the Aurand Harris Memorial Playwriting Award for the New England Theatre Conference for two decades.

NYU’s Program in Educational Theatre thanks the awardees for their service to their communities and to our field.

 

One of our awardees, Jay DiPrima, shared these words with us:

It is an honor to be recognized as a Swortzell Innovator in the Theatre for Young Audiences and Play Production.

Nancy & Lowell’s passion for plays for TYA go back more than the 50 years of this program’s founding – the work of Theatre in Education in England, the founding of The Creative Arts Team that has served youth throughout NY, their avid interest in International Youth Theatre (ASSITEJ), Lowell’s multiple publications of plays for young audiences and published collections of plays for young audiences from around the world and now their enduring legacy of New Plays and the nurturing of playwrights for young audiences hosted here at the Provincetown Playhouse.

This is the stream I go afishin’ in.

I believe the particular reason that I received this award (in addition to the fact that I have been engaged in work as writer, director, producer, and actor for young audiences for too many years), is because of my association with Lowell Swortzell and Aurand Harris.

Back in the day, I studied beginning and advanced playwriting with Aurand Harris and Lowell Swortzell. When Aurand died back in 1996, I was in a position as Chair of the Children’s Division of the New England Theatre Conference to help establish a memorial playwriting award in his honor. Another member of the division, Nina Schuessler (another NYU alumni) who worked with Aurand for many years at the Harwich Theatre on Cape Cod while he tested out his new works in production, affirmed this proposal.  When I called Nancy and Lowell to seek their advice, (as they were now executors of his estate), they were thrilled. So NETC voted to initiate the Award in November of 1997 with Lowell and Nancy as honored guests and speakers at the event in Worcester, MA. Thus The Aurand Harris Memorial Playwriting Award was created to honor the late Aurand Harris (1915-1996) for his lifetime dedication to all aspects of professional theatre for young audiences. I’ve had the honor to serve as the Chair of this Award for seventeen years.

Since its establishment, 25 new plays for young audiences have received either a $1,000 first place or $500 second place award. Every playwright has been honored at the annual conference and many works have received staged readings. I am proud to report that 16 of these plays have received publication either in the Dramatic Publishing Company, Pioneer Press, New Plays, Inc. Anchorage Press, Dramatists, Baker’s Plays or Jacpublishing. So, the work of playwrights for young audiences is alive and well. The goal is similar to the vision of Lowell and Nancy in establishing the New Plays for Young audiences reading series here at the Provincetown Playhouse – a place where new works are realized and playwrights are recognized.

I will recount two quick stories about Nancy & Lowell at the 1997 NETC Convention.

As Guest speakers at the New England Theatre Conference 1997, Nancy recounted a story about their role as executors of Aurand’s estate. When Aurand passed away in 1996, he had named Lowell and Nancy executors of his estate. While they were busy taking inventory of all of his material in his apartment, Nancy noticed a duffle bag at the bottom of his closet. Assuming it to be dirty laundry, she suggested to Lowell that they simply throw it into the incinerator and be done with it. Lowell, being the meticulous and diligent executor, said they had to pull it out and account for every detail. When they opened the bag, lo and behold, they found stashes of money – going back to post depression treasury bonds, cash and stock. When it was all accounted, it was worth nearly a quarter million dollars in value! The irony that Nancy highlighted was the manner in which Aurand lived – as if he was a poor teacher! He would often have to borrow an overcoat to go to the theatre with them! And here sat $250,000 in his closet! The funds were bequeathed to the Children’s Theatre Foundation and serve to this day as a source of Aurand Harris Fellowships for artists serving young people and grants for small and mid-sized theatres throughout America. It is a gift that keeps giving. For more information about their mission, grants and record of giving, see http://www.childrenstheatrefoundation.org/

Lowell highlighted some key points in Aurand’s life … quoting from the recent book he wrote on Aurand (as the authorized biographer) – The Theatre of Aurand Harris: His Career, His Theories and His Plays, c. 1996

In the Preface he writes: “When invited to undertake the writing and editing of this volume I first felt honored, then horrified – honored to be entrusted to document the career of the preeminent American dramatist for young audiences and horrified that he had written so damn many plays! That “damn” by no means modifies the plays, only their number, for, as I now know, most of Aurand Harris’ fifty published works remain refreshingly live. “

In writing about the evolving playwriting craft of Aurand, Lowell says:

“In the works of Harris, we are dealing with a repertory drawn from diverse cultures and from every type of literature for young audiences, including fairy and folk tales, short stories, novels, biography, history, drama, and poetry.

His works also utilize such diverse performance styles as commedia dell’arte, farce, melodrama, realism, comedy, musical plays and revues.”

So … when a playwright holds bountiful dramatic ideas in one hand and an array of theatrical forms in the other, he or she has every chance for a career as long and rewarding as the one chronicled here.”

Lowell ended with a favorite story of Aurand shared at the NETC Conference in Worcester 1997.

Aurand was fond of a question reporters inevitably asked when interviewing him –

“Do you have any children?”  Remembering Johnny Appleseed’s answer to the same inquiry he responds:  “Why, of course, a thousand and they bloom every spring.” But plays are even better than trees for they bloom and bear fruit all year round, and beyond.”

This is the legacy that Nancy and Lowell have left to us – the plays and the makers of plays for young audiences that bear fruit all year round, and beyond.”

Thank-you!

Up and Away: “One of the Hottest Tickets in Town”

October was very much the Up and Away month. Previously featured in The New York Times, the immersive theatrical production has been enjoying extraordinary success and gained exciting media attention.

On October 4, WCBS-TV’s Diane Macedo interviewed Lincoln Center Education Executive Director Russell Granet and Trusty Sidekick’s Artistic Director Jonathan Shmidt Chapman (both alumni from the Program in Educational Theatre). A week later, Laura Collins-Hughes in The New York Times reviewed Up and Away in its Theater section. The review was glowingly positive, stating that “generosity and gentleness of spirit may be the two most striking features of… this joyous new show.” The reviewer also took note of Up and Away’s painstaking attention to technical detail. “[This] multisensory experience is a stellar example of how to connect with an underserved audience by identifying obstacles… Every element of the show has been made with the audience in mind, from the warm, tuneful greeting in the lobby…to the set’s walls.”

On October 23, WNBC Nightly News featured a segment on what it called “one of the hottest tickets in town for a theater experience unlike any other.” WNBC and anchor Anne Thompson interviewed Mr. Chapman and Mr. Granet and focused the camera on the performance, with its visibly enchanted audience and a deeply moved mother who fought back tears to say: “It’s so nice to go someplace… where you’re welcome.”

Up and Away is not merely a show that makes the effort to accommodate a special audience, but an experience entirely designed for that audience. Two years of thoughtful observation and work with students on the autism spectrum were a part of the development process, and in that sense, Up and Away was designed by the audience.

Click here to learn more about Up and Away.

Posted on | Posted in Alumni News |

Student and Alumni Updates

Jamie Lerner (BS ‘15) was nominated by Professor Jess Barbagallo to be an Open Arts Research Fellow for a weekend-long workshop exploring questions and issues surrounding the arts.

 

 

 

 

 

Emily Lesnick (ETSS) facilitated workshops on Theatre for Inclusion with teachers from the US & India at edcamps in Ahmedabad and Mumbai while in India on an educators’ trip LINEGlobal. Participants engaged in drama work and discussed how to incorporate theatre into their classrooms. Additionally, Emily co-hosts a live variety show and accompanying podcast called The Soul Glo Project. Soul Glo features established comedic voices and up-and-comers in standup, sketch, improv, music and poetry. Previous guests include SNL writers and performers, Comedy Central performers, and high school students.

 

 

 

Amos Margulies (ETED ’11) is currently teaching 11th grade English at the Community School for Social Justice and extended a residency with The Moth for the third year running. He is also one of TDF’s Open Doors teachers. Their mentor is Alex Dinelaris, who this year won an Academy Award for his movie Birdman, and his new musical On Your Feet is coming to Broadway soon. Amos was recently published in the new Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in Theater (June 2015), in which he co-wrote the addendum on teaching theater to ELLs.

 

 

 

 

Kristen Tregar (EDTC ’14) will be starting the PhD program in Drama and Theatre at University of California, San Diego this coming fall. In addition, this has been the second year of successful collaboration with Jenny MacDonald, one of the tutors from the Dublin study abroad program. Their respective students in Ireland and the US have been collaborating on devised works. In the spring, the Irish and American students came to NYU for an afternoon workshop where they had the chance to meet Nan Smithner.

#TBT Nancy and Lowell Swortzell, 1966

By Jonathan Jones

Next year, we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Program in Educational Theatre. So much has transpired during our history at NYU and we will have multiple opportunities to reflect on the historic contributions of the Program during the next 18 months. Starting the journey, I present this image of Program co-founders Nancy and Lowell Swortzell collaborating on a production of Gammer Gurton’s Needle by John Still in the very first year of the Program: 1966.

If you have photographs or memories from the Program that you would like to share with the Educational Theatre community on the blog, please let me know. I can be reached at jonathan.jones@nyu.edu