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.

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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

Welcome to Fall 2015

I am delighted to welcome new and returning students to the Program in Educational Theatre. As my colleagues Philip Taylor, Nancy Smithner, Joe Salvatore, Amy Cordileone, Jonathan Jones and I recently discussed, this past academic year and summer really flew by. What an incredible year it has been for the Educational Theatre community!

We experienced a superb fall and spring with academic courses in our three areas of concentrated study: drama education, applied theatre, and play production for artists and educators. Our diverse work in community sites continued to exhibit the ways in which our program is involved in important urban and global endeavors. Many students getting certified to teach drama were mentored in NYC schools through student-teaching—learning to plan, implement and evaluate drama; teams of students created applied theatre, including our prison theatre initiative, tackling a range of social justice issues; various theatre of the oppressed events were facilitated; directors’ scenes were presented weekly; and the program’s production season produced remarkable theatre.

In the fall, just in time for Halloween, Little Shop of Horrors showcased wonderful student actors and singers, and in the spring, six new plays by Joe Salvatore were featured in In Real Time, with student directors assigned to each play. This culminated in an evening of engaging and thought-provoking theatre.  Our own Theatrix! project continued to profile new works by our students and provide rich opportunities for them to develop their theatre-making skills, while our Shakespeare to Go (STG) troupe brought their one-hour cut of Taming of the Shrew to schools throughout the city. Meanwhile, students involved in two Steinhardt student clubs, the Uproar Theatre Corp and Lamplighters, both founded by educational theatre students, impressively developed and produced full scale productions.

In January, many students studied physical theatre and mask work in Puerto Rico, with Dr. Amy Cordileone leading the program, and our annual storytelling performances, produced and curated by Regina Ress, featured six incredible storytellers from around the world telling stories at the Provincetown Playhouse (including Regina herself).  In February, we were thrilled to accept our first two students to our brand new Doctorate of Education program, the EdD. And our annual forum, the 2015 Forum on Site-Specific Performance, was unforgettable as it offered interdisciplinary panels, performances and workshops with established art makers, emerging artists, and university students to explore site-specific work that developed nuanced relationships between spectators and space.

The 2015 summer’s two on-campus projects, New Plays for Young Audiences (NPYA) and Looking for Shakespeare (LFS), were met with great success as well.  For its 18th season, NPYA presented three new works: Mario and the Comet that Stopped the World, Book and Lyrics by Gabriel Jason Dean, Music and Lyrics by David Dabbon; Nadine’s Coloring Book by Ashley Laverty; and Forever Poppy by José Cruz González. Keeping with the goals of the Program in Educational Theatre, the NPYA series effectively offered both students and theatre professionals the opportunity to test new ideas and methods within the field of TYA. It was a thrilling collaborative process that segued beautifully into the LFS program under the leadership of Dr. Jonathan Jones. The intensive four-week program for high school students from across the country worked with Dr. Jones as director, as well as an artistic team and 13 graduate students, to present Hamlet. It was truly inspiring to witness the dedicated collective of artists, educators and students work together to produce an outstanding production. Also, adding to the stimulating suite of summer offerings on campus was an intensive two-day course with renowned teacher/scholar Dr. Cecily O’Neill on Teacher in Role.  Finally, following the success of the summer 2014 London Study Abroad program under the leadership of Dr. Philip Taylor, in 2015 NYU students studied in our Dublin program led by Dr. Nancy Smithner, working with Ireland’s finest drama practitioners and theatre artists to study community-engaged theatre and explore facilitation, devising, and playwriting/adaptation, along with approaches to using dramatic activities to create context for theatre work.

Looking ahead, this exciting work continues and will be available to everyone, including opportunities to participate in classroom and applied theatre settings, a wide-range of course offerings, main stage productions, Theatrix, STG, NPYA, LFS, Puerto Rico (and our London study abroad offering that will return in 2016), student club productions, storytelling events and next year’s April, 2016 forum—among many other projects.

Speaking of which, the 2016 forum will celebrate fifty years of leadership and artist praxis in Educational Theatre at NYU. As one of the world’s premier academies of excellence, our Program was founded in 1966 by the late innovators Lowell and Nancy Swortzell, graduating over five thousand students who have assumed authoritative positions in cultural institutions, colleges and schools, community centers and other agencies worldwide. For our 2016 annual forum, the Program will build on the Swortzell’s vision, as well as the work of previous annual NYU Forums on curriculum, assessment, teaching artistry, playwriting, ethnodrama, Shakespeare, citizenship, and site specific theatre, by inviting the global community to propose workshops, papers, posters, narratives, and performances around drama in education, applied theatre, theatre for young audiences and play production. Also for the fiftieth anniversary, an alumni event will be held celebrating the achievements of the program. It will undoubtedly be a magnificent evening as colleagues and friends reunite and share classic moments of their time studying at NYU. So keep a lookout for further information to be posted on our Educational Theatre list-serve about this fiftieth anniversary celebration that you won’t want to miss.

– David Montgomery, PhD

Summer 2015 on the Square

Summer is just around the corner and now is the time to register for our exciting summer courses here at the Washington Square campus.

Acting: Character Study (MPAET-UE 1052/GE 2252)

An advanced exploration into the tools & techniques of creating character within the context of the world of the play. Through script analysis & attention to style, students will learn how to create the imaginary world in which the character lives. Scenes will be selected from both contemporary & classical genres.

Dramatic Activities in the Secondary Classroom (MPAET-UE 1068/GE 2031)

Theories & practices of educational drama & theatre as applied to the secondary classroom in such areas as learning processes, motivation, communication & classroom management. Attention given to the relationship of drama & theatre to speaking, thinking, writing, reading, history & other curricular subjects. An examination of improvisational techniques as well as play production. Student will use drama & theatre to address the human developmental processes that impact on the 7-12 student’s readiness to learn, such as culture, nutrition, personal safety & community. Laboratory experience required: 15 hours.

Physical Theatre Improvisation (MPAET-UE 1113/GE 2113)

Physical Theatre is the study of physical, vocal & improvisational exercises designed to free the creative imagination & develop performance skills. Through the layering of words, sound & movement, students will hone the essential ingredients & tools of the performer’s craft. Focus will be on vocal & movement techniques exploring atmosphere, imagery, gesture, isolation, abstraction, timing, rhythm, spatial awareness, character development, mime, body graphics, viewpoints, & the theories of Yakim, Delsarte & Laban. The creation of original material will also be studied.

Storytelling in the Classroom (MPAET-GE 2042)

This course will examine the ancient art of storytelling as a performance form (developing expressive tools, creativity, physical & vocal skills); as it has appeared throughout history (in mythology, folk tales, legends, fairy tales, fables); & as it can enhance curricular subject areas (math, science, social studies, literature, & history), relate to the New York State Learning Standards for Arts Education & the Standards for English & Language Arts. Oral history projects will also be explored through the telling of personal stories.

Theatre Practices: Problems in Play Production (MPAET-GE 2152)

Participate in the New Plays Series; attend rehearsals, meetings with the playwrights, directors and dramaturges and experience the procedures of bringing new scripts to life. Theories and methods of play development including script analysis, rehearsals and presentation of works-in-progress. Students in MPAET-GE 2152 work with visiting playwrights, directors, and dramaturgs, attend rehearsals, and participate in the step-by-step procedures of bringing new scripts to life. This practical course, designed for teachers, directors, playwrights and producers, gives particular attention to script selection, play analysis and rehearsal techniques.

Drama in Education I (MPAET-GE 2193)

Relationships of theories of dramatic art to general educational principles; present practices & potential of education drama at all levels of instruction. Uses of theatre & drama in education from the Greeks to present day. The history & philosophy of drama in education as they relate to a variety of classroom strategies, including the use of new technologies. The impact of human developmental processes, such as culture, personal safety, & nutrition on learning through theatre & drama. Individualizing instruction to prepare students with special needs for their highest levels of achievement.

Seminar in Applied Theatre Research (MPAET-GE 2400)

An advanced seminar which examines the key considerations which drive research activity in applied theatre. Students canvas the territory of applied theatre, the purposes of an applied theatre, & the challenges researchers face when designing, implementing & presenting their applied theatre studies. Students create their own applied theatre research project which can include a creative component.

Role Play 1: The Teacher in Role (MPAET-GE 2950)

The technique of stepping into the shoes of someone else is at the heart of educational drama. This course focuses on the use of role play as a strategy in the classroom & similar settings, & it explores how teachers may employ this complex convention. It will define those characteristics that are specific to educational role-play & will provide participants with opportunities to practice the techniques & skills required or its successful implementation. The course will focus primarily on the strategy of teach-in-role.

Creating Theatre with Young People (MPAET-GE 2980)

This course is designed for students who would like to develop knowledge & skills in planning & leading theatre workshops with young people. The course explores the theory & practice of creating theatre with young people from a youth-centered perspective, offers practice in designing workshops, & culminates with an in-course opportunity to initiate practical work with young people.

Directing Youth Theatre: Looking for Shakespeare (MPAET-GE 2982)

This four-week graduate course is an invaluable experience working with a youth acting ensemble, providing the chance to delve into Shakespeare’s language and hone coaching/directing skills. Students will also work with an assistant director, stage manager, designers, and youth ensemble on a production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

 

Alumni Updates

Alum Christina Kosyla (MA ’11) has been hard at work assisting her second grade drama classes with their audio recording debuts! Her 28 second graders at Stuart Country Day School in Princeton, NJ, have been working on crafting clear enunciation, appropriate projection, and unique character voices. In October, her students produced two Halloween Radio Shows, capturing sound effects and working on creating a spooky environment. In late fall, Audible recording talent Virginia Bosch spoke with the girls about professional recording. As their culminating project, each class worked with a partner to record books by Eric Carle and Dr. Seuss, constructing unique voices to distinguish between characters. These fourteen titles were given to the kindergarten class to serve as a part of the media library for years to come. Christina is proud of her students and thrilled to share with them all she gained while at NYU!

 

Program in Educational Theatre Welcomes Students to the New EdD Program

This year, the Program in Educational Theatre will welcome our first students into the new EdD Program. The first of our esteemed new students is Carmen Meyers.

Carmen Meyers: Thrilled and Honored

I am thrilled to be one of the first two students in the newly revised Educational Theatre Ed.D program for the Fall 2015 semester.  As I embark on this unfamiliar path of doctoral work, I am excited, honored, and to be honest a little nervous.  As with most things, I’ve learned that this combination is the perfect environment for me to begin my work.  I feel proud and a great sense of responsibility to continue to create and explore new strategies for teaching and learning through theatre practice.  As I am a full time instructor in the Communication Arts and Sciences Department at Bronx Community College, my hopes are that my doctoral work will continue to help me serve my students. I am currently working with the Psychological Services Department to address domestic abuse and mental health issues on campus.  It is in this area that I would like to focus my doctoral work by delving deeper in to the barriers of mental health services within Latino/Hispanic cultures.  I plan to create forum pieces to help aid these conversations and bring awareness and understanding to this issue.  I am eager to gain the knowledge and expertise that this program offers and that I will need to go forward.  This program has been a pioneer in the exploration and potency of applied theatre practice and education around the world, and through its outstanding faculty I hope to add to the work that has already been done.

Study Abroad London – Drama and Youth

By Isaiah Bent

NYU Steinhardt sent nineteen graduate students to London for three weeks; jam packed with new and exciting ways to approach theatre.  We experienced theatre for children with special needs, opera for children, process drama with the brilliant Cecily O’Neill, and of course, all the Shakespeare we could handle.

Isaiah with Cecily O'Neill

It was a once in a lifetime experience. Not only did we get to see around fifteen theatrical productions, but Dr. Philip Taylor put together an all-star group of British educators for us to work with during our stay.

A new wrinkle in this year’s London program was the amazing opportunity we had to devise a theatrical experience for second graders.  We guided sixty children through different “imagined worlds” we created using the new techniques we learned from our London professors.

When we were not knee deep in theatre (which was rare), we were enjoying the beauty of London.  Our lodgings could not have been better, given they were in Russell Square, smack dab in the middle of London.  Museums, world-class pubs, and extravagant gardens were all in walking distance.  My favorite local experience was when we dined on meat pies in the building where Sweeney Todd’s barbershop once stood.

Every student should make an effort to take advantage of this truly special program.  For more student stories, please check out our fabulous blog: http://nyulondon2014.blogspot.co.uk.

Study Abroad options for 2015 include our Theatre Practices January program in Puerto Rico and our Community Engaged Theatre summer program in Ireland.

 

 

Looking for Shakespeare

By Corinna Rezzelle

Looking for Shakespeare (LFS) has been one of the most self-reflective experiences of my graduate studies thus far. Now, it is work. It is a lot of work. It’s early-mornings-with-no-coffee-and–so-much-to-do kind of work, but it is such a great experience that I would recommend every grad student in the Educational Theatre program to tackle.

This summer we did Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. How fun, right? Shipwrecks, mistaken identities, over the top-ness in general. It was glorious fun! On top of the already wacky script, we added another layer: we set everything in the early 20th century fit with a Vaudevillian flair and several classic songs. Yes. We embarked on “Twelfth Night: The Vaudevillian Musical” in only 4-weeks. How we did it? I don’t know. Looking back, I am in awe of all that we accomplished in such a short period of time.  Our group (grad students and high-schoolers a like) were such a dedicated and hardworking group, we probably could have accomplished anything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It just hit me that some of you all might not have an idea of how LFS works. So I thought I’d tell you a little bit about the process. Within the class, you get firsthand experience guiding high school students through the wonders of acting in a Shakespearian play. Like I mentioned earlier, all of this happens in a month. Within that month, you are assigned to a particular group of students, of whom you work with primarily the entire time that you are in LFS. While you work with the teens, you are able to do your own bit of directing all while learning from your fellow grad students and the key instructor. We also even had the opportunity to teach our own workshops for the students. Stage Combat, Improvisation, Musical Theatre, and Auditions were just some of the topics that we covered in our grad student led workshops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the session that I took, Jonathan Jones was our key professor. He was truly a great life raft, mentor, and such a wonderful professor throughout the process. He gave us grad students the support that we needed to feel confident enough to let our voices be heard when we had blocking ideas or suggestions for the students; however, he also gave us the right balance of guidance to help lead us to find new ideas and discover other methods of teaching.

Though there were many “ah ha!” moments for me during LFS, what meant the most was getting to work with other theatre educators. The summers are such a fun time at NYU because it is filled with students in the summer-only program (of which I am enrolled in). The summer-only students are a great mix of New York residents and other theatre teachers that come from all over the country. I hail from Georgia; there were several Floridians, a Michigander, and even someone from Canada! It’s so rewarding to meet other theatre teachers that “think like me”!  Getting to learn different techniques, new games, and build a brand new support system of teachers that I can call friends made this summer such a great experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, now that the summer is over and the school year has once yet begun, still I find myself going back to the huge stack of notes that I took during the LFS process and trying new techniques that I learned in my own classroom. I would not give up the LFS experience for anything in the world and would love to embark on it again!

New Plays: The Visceral Spirit of Theatre

By Jason Boxer

Perhaps appropriately, I am in many ways an academic lover of theatre. The nuanced design of each Spolin game is an incredible feat to me – the meticulousness with which Aristotle explains story structure is as entertaining to me as any of the plays he influenced – and at the risk of brownnosing, I’ll admit that the history and overarching philosophy delineated in Theater for Change is a great read. (Incoming freshmen, bug David Montgomery to let you read more of that in Intro to Ed Theatre; it’s awesome and it’s a hell of a lot more exciting than Everyman).

Despite all this, I am happy to report that I was pushed out of this theoretical, theatre-nerd comfort zone when I was cast in John P. McEneny’s play Pollywog this past summer. Pollywog was the first of three plays produced for Ed Theatre’s annual New Plays for Young Audience series, and in it I was tasked with bringing to life a 14-ish year old kid named Francis. Punky, misunderstood, and confused, Francis is a supporting character whose biggest contribution to the play is his in-flux sexuality. There are rumors all over school that he is gay.

He eventually comes face to face with the primary spreader of this gossip – Tammy, McEneny’s main character – and the confrontation is a harsh, inelegant one. To put it as the character probably would, the scene hinges upon Francis being really pissed off.

He’s so mad he can’t get his words out. He can’t think. His dialogue – which could ideally be a delicate explanation of profound frustration – comes out bluntly and sloppily. McEneny placed him in the throes of a rabid, involuntary, and quintessentially teenage outburst.

The scene called for a wholly unacademic performer giving a wholly unacademic performance. The words of Spolin, Aristotle, and even our fearless leader David Montgomery weren’t going to help me this time.

I didn’t get it right until our second and final performance. I clenched my fists and felt them moisten with sweat. I spit my lines out antagonistically, genuinely hoping they would hurt Tammy. I began to feel dizzy and nearly out of control. For the first time in my life, I think I was really getting a taste of the living, visceral spirit of theatre, and I loved it. The audience did too.

My identity as a theatre practitioner was challenged by this experience. What kind of phony actor only gets excited about theory – I thought – and worse, what kind of phony teacher only gets excited about the on-paper potential of his field of study? I hope to be neither of those phonies, and New Plays for Young Audiences helped me realize that.

I’ll conclude by confessing that I’m uncertain of one thing and certain of another. The uncertain thing is if the words of Marceau and Lecoq will prove my next big theoretical inspiration. The certain thing is that Everyman is the most boring play ever, and I wish the incoming freshmen good luck in trudging through it.

Educational Theatre students perform in Think Pink, New Plays for Young Audiences 2014; Photo courtesy of Chianan Yen

From the Program Director

By: David Montgomery, PhD

As we prepare to embark on a new school year, I would like to extend a heartfelt welcome to new and returning students to the Program in Educational Theatre at NYU. For many students, the beginning of the school year is a time filled with excitement and anticipation as they prepare to reacquaint themselves with friends, develop new friendships, and enter the next phase of their educational journey.

Summer 2014 for the Program was one of our busiest yet—with courses, projects, international presentations, and performances. Students attending our London study abroad program, Drama and Youth led by Dr. Philip Taylor, took part in a variety of transformative experiences, including TYA programming at Rose Bruford College, site visits to Oily Cart, stimulating Drama in Education workshops and loads of theatre visits!

Our two annual projects on campus, New Plays for Young Audiences (NPYA) and Looking for Shakespeare, received critical acclaim. For its 17thseason, NPYA presented three new works at the historic Provincetown Playhouse: Pollywog written by John McEneny and directed by Annie Montgomery, Pink Think written by Eric Pfeffinger and directed by Nancy Smithner, and Welcome to Terezin written by Philip Glassborow and directed by Deirdre Lavrakas from the Kennedy Center. The culminating staged readings of each play showcased strong performances from our undergraduate and graduate student actors who worked with the playwrights, directors and dramaturg Cecily O’Neill to help develop the plays. NPYA also collaborated with NYC middle school students as they as they participated in drama workshops connected to the plays, created their own original TYA plays, and provided valuable feedback to the playwrights about their work.

The other major summer project at Washington Square was our young people’s ensemble, Looking for Shakespeare, which presented Twelfth Night. This show was wonderfully mounted and directed by Dr. Jonathan Jones, and produced by alum Robert Stevenson. Adding to this was our ‘Applied Theatre on the Square’ suite of courses, which included a course in Devised Theatre taught by Dr. Nancy Smither, Applied Theatre Praxis taught by Dr. Philip Taylor, and Methods and Materials of Research in Educational Theatre taught by Joe Savlatore. Dr. Amy Cordileone and I also taught courses in directing and drama across the curriculum.

Summer 2014 virtually came and went, but we are exciting for what lies ahead. The Program will continue to offer splendid courses in the three areas of concentrated study: drama education, applied theatre, and play production for artists and educators. Last year, we saw student-teaching transpire throughout NYC schools, teams of Educational Theatre students create applied theatre on a range of social justice issues; an acting troupe travel to schools with adaptations of Shakespeare; various theatre of the oppressed events showcased; directors’ scenes that were presented weekly; and the planning and hosting of an international conference on Teaching Artistry. All of this activity will carry on and grow as we move into 2014 /2015.

For a number of Educational Theatre students, they will be mentored in New York City schools, fulfilling their requirements for teaching certification. This field based work is central to developing professionals, as students plan, implement and evaluate their teaching in partnership with cooperating mentors. Likewise, our wide ranging applied theatre work in community sites, like our prison theatre initiative, will continue with the goal, as stated by Philip Taylor in his book[i], of ‘raising awareness about how we are situated in the world and what we as individuals and as communities might do to make the world a better place.’

Looking toward our exciting production calendar, I will be directing Little Shop of Horrors this fall, which will include a most fitting performance on Halloween. With Rachel Whorton as musical director, it promises to be a whole lot of fun. We invite you to audition for the musical that will be mounted in the Black Box Theatre.  Our Shakespeare to Go (STG) troupe will also be inviting you to audition, as adjunct instructor and alum Daryl Embry will direct a Shakespeare play (TBD) that will travel to various schools in New York City, providing a wonderful theatrical experience for young people.

Our annual storytelling events, produced and curated by Regina Ress, will feature renowned artists from around the globe telling their tales, and our Theatrix! project will keep on profiling new work by students, providing them with opportunities to develop their artistry. Last year was highly memorable as Theatrix brought new musicals to life, and this year promises to be equally stimulating. Theatrix provides a wonderful opportunity for collaboration and looking back, I have seen time and time again the ways in which the relationships developed through Theatrix! have turned into professional artistic relationships after graduation (see Student and Alumni Update on ‘Play/Date’ in this newsletter as an example). Also, our Writers’ Roundtable will maintain their exploration of the roles of structure and accountability in the creative processes of playwrights at various stages of their careers. Finally, superb artistic happenings will take place through the Uproar Theatre Corp and Lamplighters, two active Steinhardt clubs that were formed by Educational Theatre students. All this exciting activity reveals that there are many opportunities for students to get involved in projects outside of their course work.

A program as rich as ours is dependent on great teaching and teamwork.  I am grateful to my colleagues—Philip Taylor, Nan Smithner, Joe Salvatore, Amy Cordileone and Jonathan Jones—as well the exceptional adjunct faculty and our office administrator Rochelle Brown, for all their hard work, dedication and care.

Study Abroad Puerto Rico – The Ultimate Share

By Marco Santarelli

According to Deborah Hunt, “mankind is a mistake on this earth, but it is only what we create that redeems us.” This was truly inspiring for all of the students who have worked so hard over the course of this trip to enhance their skills in creating something so incredible. Today, the two groups, masks and physical theatre, departed to begin their final rehearsals before the evening performances. Beginning at 10:00am, the physical theatre group took their usual walk to the studio.  We continued to refine and strengthened our pieces in preparation for this final “share.” The amount of sweat and tears acquired before lunch could fill our hotel’s unusable swimming pool.  It was absolutely amazing to watch this group of talented performers continue to strengthen their craft and perfect such a beautiful work of art. Our only mission was to prove ourselves in this art form, which few of us have experienced before this Puerto Rican adventure. It was an honor to share the field of battle with this group.

It was finally time for the masks and physical theatre groups to share their work and reflect on this amazing experience.

As we left the studio to watch the performance that was to be taking place in the courtyard of the Bellas Artes building, we were met by a masked figure with a bell waiting to guide us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once seeing the group of masked figured scattered around the square, I instantly recognized the performers’ dedication and intensity they brought to the piece. We knew we were in for a great show, though strangers enjoying an afternoon coffee had no idea what they were about to experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was clear wearing layer upon layers of black fabric and a mask in 90-degree heat was no easy task, but each performer took on the challenge with ease and created a fantastic show for everyone, including random spectators.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was then time to return to the studio for the physical theatre group’s final performance. The two weeks we spent creating, devising, collaborating, altering, and adapting all of these pieces finally proved itself to be a terrific gift for all of us on the stage. Like the mask group, we all created something that was uniquely ours, and we were extremely grateful to share it with such fantastic artists. Throughout this performance, each actor highlighted his or her original work and built an ensemble piece with tremendous support and assistance from our director and warrior in training Javier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both performances were tremendously successful, and it was finally time to leave the stage and take in our final moments as performers in Puerto Rico.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But that’s not to say we didn’t celebrate afterwards. The program put together a fantastic party in the studio with terrific food and dessert. Being surrounded by music, dancing, and great friends, it was the perfect way to end an incredible day performing an art form that we have all enjoyed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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To view additional images from Marco’s blog post, visit:

http://nyuedtheatre.tumblr.com/post/73864255504/the-ultimate-share-january-18th-marco

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For additional information about the our study abroad programs, visit:

http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/music/edtheatre/programs/summer/abroad

http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/study_abroad/programs/Theatre_Practices