New Plays for Young Audiences: An Extremely Appealing Process

By Blanca Vivancos

When last summer I got the email announcing I was going to be part of the cast of one of the shows at NYU Steinhardt’s New Plays for Young Audiences, I was thrilled. Of course it’s always exciting to get a positive answer after an audition, but in this case there were a few extra reasons why I wanted to be part of that project. For those of you who don’t know how New Plays for Young Audiences works, it is basically a theatre work in progress based on a new play that is still a working draft. During one week, actors, director, and playwright work together to give the play shape, showing the final result to an audience in a staged reading. This process is extremely helpful for the playwright who gets direct feedback from the actors and can adapt the play based on what is actually working or not working on stage. But as I was saying, this process was also extremely appealing for me for several reasons:

First, being an actress, the opportunity to be part of a work in progress is a challenge. Having to build a character based on a text that changes from one day to the next until the very last minute requires flexibility and technique, and there’s never enough of that for an actor, right?

That process becomes even more fulfilling by having the playwright on stage, working with the actors, explaining, listening, and re-writing. That is an amazing experience! How many times, reading a script, I would have paid to have the chance to ask the author, “Why?”  Well, New Plays for Young Audiences gave me that for free!

Third, I would add that being a writer myself, observing the creative process of another playwright always gives food for thought. And having the opportunity to be part of that process, feeding back to the author from the actor’s perspective, is also an experience every playwright should have at least once.

This project also gave me the chance to work under the direction of Deirdre Lavrakas, from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. I guess anyone with some experience in theatre would agree with me about how much we actors learn by watching a director at work. And in this particular case, the lesson was even bigger because the director had to be flexible enough to adapt the show to the new version of the script in every rehearsal!

Probably one of the things that motivated me the most was the outstanding cast I shared the stage with. Most of the actors were related to the Program in Educational Theatre at NYU Steinhardt, so our rehearsals were a reflection of what that program is: a perfectly balanced combination of artistic talent and human touch. It is always a pleasure to work on stage with talented people who know how to listen, share, and create to build the best show possible.

Finally… lets be very honest with this: New Plays for Young Audiences happens at the Provincetown Playhouse in NYC, where Anne Bancroft, Julie Harris, Eugene O’Neill, and Bette Davis launched their careers. And yes, it’s not a bad reward to add my name to that list!

Clean Break’s Unlocking Potential: Using the arts with women in the criminal justice system

Clean Break was set up in 1979 by two women prisoners who believed that theatre could bring the hidden stories of imprisoned women to a wider audience. Still the only women’s theatre company of its kind today, Clean Break has remained true to these roots, continuing to inspire playwrights around the complex theme of women and crime – enlightening and entertaining audiences. Integral to this, is the company’s long-established theatre-based education and training program enabling women offenders and those at risk of offending to develop personal, social, professional and creative skills leading to education and employment.

Behind the scenes, we provide high-quality theatre-based courses, qualifications, training opportunities and specialist support which are critical for the rehabilitation of women offenders in prisons and the community.  On the stage, we produce ground-breaking and award-winning plays which dramatize women’s experience of, and relationship to, crime and punishment. Our women-only identity is crucial to our history and rationale, and provides us with the most effective model for representing, understanding and meeting the complex needs of women who offend.

Clean Break will visit NYU Steinhardt’s Program in Educational Theatre for two events this week:

Thursday, October 24, 2013 – 8:15 pm – 10:15pm (Clean Break: A Presentation)- Bobst Libray LL150

and Friday, October 25, 2013 – 1pm – 4pm (Clean Break: In Practice)- Pless Acting Studio at 82 Washington Square East

For 10/24, RSVP to: https://www.eventbrite.com/event/8735410849

For 10/25 RSVP, to: https://www.eventbrite.com/event/8735567317

http://www.cleanbreak.org.uk

META By Deborah Zoe Laufer Opens This Weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

META
By Deborah Zoe Laufer

What if the Gods, Goddesses, Nymphs and Sirens of Greek myth congregated nightly at their favorite downtown dive?  What happens when these tragic heroes wrestle with fate and contemplate hubris through song as the impending flood bears down?  META… That’s what! Join us for the most cathartic fun this side of Olympus!

Program in Educational Theatre
LOCATION: Black Box Theatre

ADMISSION: $15 General, $5 Students & Seniors
For tickets, contact NYU Ticket Central.
ONLINE: nyu.edu/ticketcentral/calendar
BY PHONE: 212 352 3101
IN PERSON: 566 LaGuardia Place (at Washington Square South)

Friday, October 25 at 8pm
Saturday, October 26 at 8pm
Sunday, October 27 at 3pm
Thursday, October 31 at 8pm
Friday, November 1 at 8pm
Saturday, November 2 at 8pm
Sunday, November 3 at 3pm

Interdisciplinary Territories: Applied Theatre and Drama Therapy

A workshop for all current students in Educational Theatre and Drama Therapy with Peter Friedrich, MFA- Scholar in Residence at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. This workshop focuses on a series of theatrical techniques — invented, borrowed or modified — that had the most success for Peter during 5 years of teaching and directing in an Islamic post-conflict society.

When: Friday, October 18, 2013 – 9am – 2pm

Where: Pless Annex Basement

82 Washington Square East

How: Space is limited. Please email andrewgaines (at) nyu (dot) edu to RSVP

Pleading for Better People

By Caleb Winebrenner

It’s now been 12 months since I was officially conferred my degree in Educational Theatre. Every time I think about that, I realize that one year seems like a short amount of time. But 12 months is 12 miniature chapters of growth and discovery working as a teaching artist out in the real world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No, this isn’t a post outlining what I’ve done month-by-month. But it is about how my views of  working as a teaching artist have shifted, every time I’ve flipped a page on the calendar. I’m very fond of NYU Steinhardt, and I always look forward to my next trip to the city. There is so much more that I could have gained from my time there. There’s also a lot that no amount of study will get you.

I’ve come to see that as a teaching artist, I must set my sights more broadly than being an artist and educator. In a recent chat with my wife she said, “The world pleads for better people.” Every day she asks me how my day was when I get home from work. Like any teacher or teaching artist, I answer with stories about my students and what I am doing in my classroom. Recently, I’ve been trying something new.

In my work at the local Boys and Girls Club, I noticed something. Students rarely looked me in the eye. They didn’t greet each other. Instead, they moved about in the room like dust particles, none of them really aware of any of the others. When they were aware, it was more for gossip or teasing. When I shared this with my wife, we had the conversation I mentioned above.  I lamented that my students didn’t have those social skills. She responded that it’s not something our world really teaches any more, but it should. Frankly, I think she’s right.

So now I have a rule that every student must greet me as they enter my room. One-by-one, each of them has to look me in the eye, and shake my hand. Some of my students resist it and try to shove past me, but I don’t let them. Why? Because as I see it, my work as a teaching artist isn’t really about arts education. It’s about genuine human connection. That’s the real magic of theatre, as I see it. It’s a way for people to play together, and it’s a way to practice things not done much outside of that space.

But more than that, it’s a way to regain a sense of being a part of something. Many of my students want to resist what we’re doing, because it’s after school and they think that I should be as apathetic as they are. Or at best they think its silly.

But it isn’t silly to expect something from your students, even after school. It isn’t silly to ask for a world where our young people are raised with integrity, kindness, awareness, and perseverance. Our world needs gifted artists and educators, but it pleads for better people. As a teaching artist, that means I have a role to play.

Outside my room at the Boys and Girls Club there’s a mural. It’s a little speech bubble with the words — Imagine, Hope, Dream, Create. That’s the sequence with my students, and to grow as a teaching artist. Right now, let’s imagine a world where our young people become better people. Then move into hope: asking  what small actions can be done to make visible the world we imagine. My students and I can dream of that world together, dream it with theatre, and ultimately create it out in daily life.

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Caleb Winebrenner is a teaching artist based in Tempe, AZ. His work focuses on empowering youth through creative play, storytelling, and devised theatre — and the more he does it, the more he loves it. He is currently working on a book of games and stories for community and youth development and launched a crowdfunding campaign to support it. He writes the blog Discovering Teaching Artistry and tweets, @caleb_teaches.

 

Geo Britto from the Center of the Theatre of the Oppressed (CTO) to present on November 8th from 10:00am to 11.30am

LECTURE WITH GEO BRITTO , POLITICIAL-ARTISTIC COORDINATOR OF THE CENTER FOR THE THEATRE OF THE OPPRESSED (CTO) TALKS ABOUT THE THE WORK OF AUGUSTO BOAL, CTO IN RIO AND HOW TO CREATE COMMUNITY GROUPS

Geo Britto

Geo Britto has been a member of the CTO, established by Augusto Boal, since 1990. He has worked on several projects, creating groups of Theatre of the Oppressed and empowering multipliers in slums, schools, prisons and mental health centers, among others. Specifically, he coordinates the mental health projects and culture point / Living Culture(Cultura Viva). Geo has given numerous workshops and lectures and brought shows to Palestine, Bolivia, Mozambique, India, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Guatemala, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Egypt, and also countries of Europe and North America. He currently coordinates the new project “Theatre of the Oppressed na Maré” (which is the name of a favela), creating groups of Theatre of the Oppressed in the largest and one of the most violent favelas of Rio de Janeiro.


Join us for this informative and active lecture that will take place in The Black Box Theatre at 82 Washington Square East from 10:00am to 11:30 am on Friday, November 8th. If you wish to attend, please RSVP to Leslee Myers at:
lesleemyers (at) nyu (dot) edu

Summer Abroad: Drama Education in London and Dublin

By Emily Tinawi

My elephant tattoo! It was done at Skin City in Dublin, Ireland

This summer I got an elephant tattooed on my ankle. It is a permanent representation of the life-changing summer that I had doing both Educational Theatre summer abroad programs in London and Dublin. Students who had done the programs before told me to take advantage of the study abroad programs, so I applied with excitement but didn’t really know what to expect.

As last school year ended I was feeling frustrated with myself as a teacher, was losing some of my drive, and knew that I needed to grow professionally and step up my game. That is where this summer came in. The trip was filled with experiences that can’t be done justice on paper. In London we delved deeply into process drama through workshops with David Booth, Cecily O’Neill, Philip Taylor, and a myriad of other experts in the field at the International Drama Educators Conference: Heathcote Reconsidered, in Greenwich! We travelled to Sidcup, England to partner with Rose Bruford College where we worked with Jeremy Harrison and learned about actor musicianship and how to use it for educational theater purposes. Mr. Harrison had such a fresh look at educational theater and added many new tricks to our toolboxes. We also went to theatre shows in the evenings which reminded me about the power of theater in all forms, commercial or non.

One of our devising pieces done on the streets of Belfast. Pictured: Robert Stevenson, Jayme Kilburn, Marshall Louise Burgart, Kristen Tregar, and Emily Tinawi

Ireland was a very different experience but equally life-changing. From learning about devising work by performing created pieces on the streets of Belfast to learning how to come into a community as an outsider, the Ireland program really caused me to look deeply at my theater practice. You cannot go through the Ireland program without feeling the deep importance of theater work in ALL communities! Living at Trinity College is truly special, knowing that every step takes you on a journey through history.

Out at Sidcup for a day of workshops with Jeremy Harrison. Pictured: Abigail Screer, Katharine McSherry, Emily Tinawi, and Janet Chia-En Lee.

Both Professor Taylor and Professor Salvatore clearly cared about us, our learnings, and ensuring that we had unforgettable experiences. I know that I will be a better teacher because of them.  Beyond the academic learnings, I made life-time friends. There isn’t a day that I don’t Facebook/snapchat/email/text/call one of the many new friends that I acquired over the summer.  When people look at my ankle they only see an elephant. When I look at my ankle I see a reminder of two of the best months of my life.

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For over 30 years, the program in Educational Theatre has offered unique opportunities for concentrated study and daily field participation in the uses of theatre education and applied theatre which are designed for teachers, teaching artists, university students, recreational leaders, language and speech arts specialists, theatre directors, actors, integrated arts educators, and community leaders.

For additional information about the program, visit:

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

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

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

 

Applied Theatre in Dublin

By Chelsea Price

Since I have fully recovered from the jet lag, I am happy to share with you my amazing experience participating in the NYU Steinhardt Community-Engaged Theatre study abroad program in Dublin, Ireland!

With a home base in gorgeous Dublin city at the historic Trinity College, this program provided both theory and practical experience in the growing artistic realms of applied theatre and community engagement. We participated in site visits to renowned theatres and community centers to hear how top notch Irish practitioners were tackling and expanding on these vast categories of theatrical work, and even got to produce and perform some work of our own.

Now, if you think you’re going to Ireland to learn a few things about applied theatre and then being unleashed on some poor community group to change their lives, you’re sadly mistaken. This program challenges participants to think of their program colleagues as the community and includes a myriad of practical small group projects and performances.

So, collaboration is key in this program. You won’t get very far if you can’t learn to work with and work well with other people. If that’s not a problem for you, then you’ll have an absolutely wonderful time learning from and about others with vastly different life perspectives and talents, and you might even make some lasting bonds and friendships along the way. I certainly did!

I started off knowing next to nothing about the term, “Applied Theatre” other than what the pre-readings assigned before the program could illuminate. However, being immersed in another culture and taking trips to locations such as the Upstate Theatre Project in Drogheda, the National Theatre in Dublin, Dalkey Castle, and the Giant’s Causeway in Belfast, things started to click.

As I heard from guest speakers, saw work firsthand, personally devised theatre, and proposed plans to engage communities, this term started to take on a lot more depth for me. My general understanding has come to rest with the idea that a facilitator who uses theatre or theatrical elements to indirectly solve and combat social issues in a given community is working in the area of applied theatre. This is something that I have always known and believed about theatre and its ability to create social change, but I now have the academic terminology, research, and practical experience to back it up.

Honestly, if this study abroad program fits into your academic plan, but maybe you’re debating on whether to dish out the dough, take it from me: it is totally worth every penny. On top of being a fantastically fun and adventurous learning experience, it was some of the most practical work I’ve done in my entire Educational Theatre program at Steinhardt. I highly recommend it and I’m sure the Irish people will warmly welcome you!

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For over 30 years, the program in Educational Theatre has offered unique opportunities for concentrated study and daily field participation in the uses of theatre education and applied theatre which are designed for teachers, teaching artists, university students, recreational leaders, language and speech arts specialists, theatre directors, actors, integrated arts educators, and community leaders.

For additional information about the program, visit:

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

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

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

Study Abroad: Dublin 2013 – in Pictures

By Chelsea Price

Accommodations at Trinity College were amazing. I had my own, huge room!

This production got super “meta” for the group of American theatre students watching an Irish production of an American classic theatre piece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visiting a museum together.

 

 

 

 

Post film screenings at the Upstate Theatre Project, we enjoyed a discussion with the director and actors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watching classmates perform a devised theatre piece based on interviews in a public space, Victoria Square in Belfast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A beautiful sunset over Trinity College as late as 10:30PM! Something I could get used to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing Major Barbara at the Abbey Theatre after reading it and developing educational resource projects for pre and post show workshops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Devising original movement theatre at the natural phenomena, Giant’s Causeway in Belfast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marshall Burghart gets an archery lesson at Dalkey Castle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cast of “This is a Story” for final performance piece!

 

 

 

 

 

Forum: Developing New Work for the Theatre

By Matt Cohen

On Saturday, April 27th, I attended the Program in Educational Theatre’s 2013 Forum, Developing New Work for the Theatre.  For the first session, I attended the Case Study on New Play Development, moderated by Professor Joe Salvatore.  This seminar featured representatives from the New York Theatre Barn and Luna Stage.  For the second session, I participated in a workshop in Entry Points for Devising New Work, facilitated by Dr. Nan Smithner.

The Case Study on New Play Development provided a fascinating take on the development process of original musicals and plays.  Sammy Buck and Brandon James Gwinn, respectively the librettist and composer/co-lyricist of Speargrove Presents, NYTB’s musical about the drama surrounding a high school production ofRent, discussed how in the beginning of the process, they were two of numerous writers involved in the project, until Joe Barros (director) and Jason Najjoum (producer) whittled down the pool.  The musical is still a work in progress.

Nikkole Salter, playwright of Carnaval, discussed how she moved to New Jersey and discovered a theatre near her new home, Luna Stage, which accepted open submissions of new work.  She submitted Carnaval, and she and Cheryl Katz (Director of Play Development) discussed how impactful it was to have multiple readings of the work in her writing process, as well as the often surprising reaction of the predominantly blue-haired audience.  The seminar concluded with a brief question and answer session, and all of the panelists were wonderfully open in answering our questions.

In the workshop in Entry Points for Devising New Work, we learned about the various approaches to creating new theatrical work in many different settings.  These ranged from brainstorming specific topics to simply using inspiration from props.  At the end of the session, we were divided into two groups, and each group devised a brief piece about internet dating.  Both performances were indicative of a great deal of growth within the short time period.

The afternoon concluded with a Plenary Session, in which we discussed what was learned in the previous sessions.  We primarily addressed the topics of establishing rigorous, intentional new works development processes that are innovative and sustainable, holding the stakeholders accountable, and defining and measuring success in the process.  All in all, my peers and I attained a wealth of knowledge that day, and I appreciate having been given the opportunity to participate in such an enlightening forum.