Forum: Developing New Work for the Theatre

Developing New Work for the Theatre
Friday, April 26 & Saturday, April 27

The Program in Educational Theatre is a community of diverse artists, educators, and audiences with a commitment to creating and participating in engaging theatrical experiences, not necessarily in traditional spaces or by traditional measures, but through consistent investigation of artistic processes and aesthetics. The development of original work has been central to the Program’s mission since its inception, and this forum proposes to generate new knowledge within the field as we address the following questions:

1. How do artists establish rigorous, intentional new works development processes
that are innovative and sustainable? 

2. How does accountability serve the stakeholders in a new works development
process?

3. How do we define and measure success in a new works development process?

Schedule of Events 

Register for the Forum here.

Location: 35 West 4th Street, New York NY 10012 (Frederick Loewe Theatre and Education Building)

 

New Plays; New Worlds

By Rachel Whorton

On an average summer day around an average conference table, three actors read an exceptional, though unfinished, script about an average boy named Zachary Briddling. The play, Zachary Briddling Who Was Awfully Middling by Finegan Kruckemeyer, was one of three plays selected for the New Plays for Young Audiences series in the historic Provincetown Playhouse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The actors, including myself, were undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students from NYU and beyond. Over the course of one week, director Emilie Fitzgibbon of Ireland’s Graffiti Theater helped us create a world derived from Zachary’s crayon drawings. Giants, storytellers, roller skating squirrel-monkeys and girls covered entirely in hair were all characters from Zachary Briddling’s imagination; and it was up to just 2 actors to make the full cast of characters come to life around the third actor, Zachary himself. So my fellow actors and I engaged in some exploration of voice quality, pitch, volume, body posture, attitude and gesture as we tried to create at least 8 different characters…each.

As new pages came in during the development process, new characters appeared and disappeared, changed and mutated, combined and emerged more dynamic than before. Even after audiences entered the equation, the playwright and the director encouraged us to keep exploring and creating because the ultimate goal of New Plays for Young Audiences is to help the playwright develop his or her script.

Scripts in development are my favorite type of work because they are never confined to the notion of what has been, but are always looking forward to the possibility of what could be. The collaborative nature of the New Plays for Young Audiences rehearsal process made the experience anything but average.

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New Plays for Young Audiences is an annual summer play development series located in the historic Provincetown Playhouse. Founded in 1998 by Lowell and Nancy Swortzell, NYU’s prize-winning New Plays for Young Audiences has developed over thirty new plays written by leading playwrights for young audiences and families including Carl Miller, Y York, Laurie Brooks, Suzan Zeder, Bryony Lavery, Lois Lowry, Angela Betzien, and José Cruz González. These plays go on to receive publication and production throughout the world.

For additional information about the program, visit:http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/music/edtheatre/programs/summer/newplays

On Writing Anagram: The Musical

By Micaela Blei

When I was in 7th grade, I was on the JV Spelling Team, and my crush was Varsity. I pined while I spelled. When I heard about musicals in Theatrix, I thought: great fiction comes from life, right? So I proposed a fast-paced love story, set in the corrupt world of middle school competitive spelling.

I met with Rachel Whorton, Theatrix curator, who gave me great advice about story structure. I spoke to my composer, Ynvgil Guttu, on the phone, about tone and style– she lives in Alaska, so our collaboration was by phone. And I got to writing.

Writing short form is rewarding– as in writing formal poetry, or a 350-word blog post for the Ed Theatre blog, every detail has to be important.

Once I had a draft and ideas for three songs, I wrote lyrics, sent them to Yngvil and
received back piano sketches of the tunes. This was an amazing moment– it’s so cool when someone has taken what you wrote and made it sound beautiful! We talked several times, refining things, and I put my script through a brutal doctoring process. (It was WAY TOO COMPLICATED for a 15 minute musical, in its first drafts.)

Theatrix hosted a fantastic workshop day, when all the directors, playwrights and composers got together for a reading of the scripts. This was nerve wracking! We got feedback from classmates which helped refine our next drafts.

Soon after that, it was time for the first read-through with the cast. Yngvil handed out music, the cast read the script, and from there it belonged to them.

I didn’t see it until opening night. It was incredible to see how much work the cast, composer and director had put into the production. This was the first musical I wrote, and also (of course) the first one I’ve seen performed. And what I saw was brilliantly talented people taking some ideas I’d had and making them smarter, funnier and more beautiful.  I’m hooked. I’ll see you at Theatrix next year.

They Be Calling Us Witches: A Cast Member’s Take on The Crucible

By Mel Ridgway

On March 1, 1692, the townspeople of Salem, Massachusetts began to hold trials accusing its citizens of witchcraft. Exactly 321 years later, the lights went up on the Educational Theatre program’s re-creation of these trials, The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Twelve graduate and undergraduate students, both in and out of the program, came together to take on this daunting task. I was lucky enough to be one of those twelve.

Photo by Chianan Yen

The idea of performing in an American classic like The Crucible – and trying to string it all together in only six weeks– was a very scary and exciting thought. To add to the stakes, this year marks the 60th anniversary of The Crucible‘s first Broadway production. Luckily we had the motivational push from our wonderful stage manager Talia Krispel and her assistant stage managers, Cody Allyn Page and Kathleen Turner and the aid of our director Dr. Philip Taylor and our dramaturg/assistant director Jonathan Jones.

Photo by Chianan Yen

The rehearsal process was, to say the least, memorable and challenging. The show is emotionally draining and forces you to really open your eyes. If the plot of this show is not enough to exhaust the cast, trying to figure out the grammar and language of the text was even harder. But, through an amazing cast bond we formed from the hours spent together, we challenged each other to leap past these hurdles and bring each other to the finish line. It was truly an ensemble effort to get to where we were.

One of the most interesting realizations in the process occurred during one of our talk-backs with high school students. One of these students raised their hand and asked, “Now why do the costumes look modern, the set pieces look like they’re from colonial times and the projections look like they’re from the 1950s?” The cast was baffled until one of our cast members, Cara Arcuni, answered this question.

“The themes of this show are timeless.”

I realized she was absolutely right. Somehow, in a strange yet understandable way, all of these time periods connected to each other. It reminded me of a quote our director introduced us to in the beginning of our rehearsal process:

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

And this is exactly what has happened. We have forgotten about the message this play is supposed to teach us and, as punishment, we are still hunting witches to this day, only these witches take on the form of illegal immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community and union workers just to name a few examples. The observation this high school student made was exactly Arthur Miller wanted. We are supposed to think it is strange that all of these different time periods relate to each other, and still relate to us now and in 60 years, if we do not listen to this quote, we will be having this conversation once again.

Photo by Chianan Yen

Uproar Theatre Corps: Fall’s Changing Leaves

The Uproar Theatre Corps is proud to present its spring main stage production, Fall’s Changing Leaves, this April 11, 12, and 13. This original devised production was originally written and produced in the Samuel Beckett Theatre in Dublin, Ireland by Taylor Barnard, Moises Castro, Jack Dod, Declan Gorman, Brad Harris, Valerie Issembert, Kate Kearns, and Amy Pottinger. Now, it is making its North American debut with a revised script and new cast members.

Chronicling over two hundred years of the crann O’Riada, from the American Revolution to the the death of its current patriarch, “Fall’s Changing Leaves” is a drama about family, mystery, and how our past is just as rooted in us as our family tree is rooted in the earth. The action takes place at the wake of James Ryder, where the audience are mourners, and the cast of characters include a recently married lesbian couple with a troublesome two year old, a juvenile delinquent math whiz, a drunk pediatrician, a mysterious visitor, a very confused genealogist, and someone whose past and future are as muddled as the land from which he came. 

The wake of James Ryder will be held April 11, 12, and 13 at 8pm in the Palladium Multipurpose Room, 140 E 14th St. As this is a wake, and James’s family is still in mourning, we ask that you wear black, but please do be prepared to celebrate James’s life.

 

Challenging, Thought-Provoking, and Inspired: Study Abroad Dublin

By Justin Daniel

Site specific theatre at the Giants Causeway near Belfast.

It’s been many months since I returned from Ireland, and while the experience is still sinking in, I can safely say the program was revelatory. I was a part of a group a sixteen graduate students exploring community engaged theatre while living in the historic Trinity College campus. The simple fact that we were away from home and studying in a new environment allowed us to dive into this work without the usual distractions of everyday life. Not to mention the work was challenging, thought-provoking, and inspired.

 

 

 

 

Group photo with students, tutors, and our fearless leader Joe Salvatore.

The three weeks gave us an opportunity to work with leaders in the field of applied theatre, write and perform original pieces, and individually develop a prospectus for a community engaged theatre project of our choice. For me, the prospectus experience especially widened my ideas around theatre as it required me to consider the practical, logistical, financial, and cultural considerations that all influence theatre in specific communities. I’m thrilled that I now have the initial groundwork for an actual project that I’m now actively developing.

 

 

 

Justin Daniel, celebrating the incredible scenery of Ireland.

Beyond all of this, I had a blast. I closed out my graduate experience surrounded by inspiring people, the vast history and culture of Ireland, and expanded my personal artistic practice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The wall dividing Catholics from Protestants in Belfast has now become the Peace Wall, filled with inspirational messages from around the world.

After an exhausting hour of physical theatre!

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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

Uproar in Residency: A NEW Theatre Incubator for Arts Advocacy

By Jack Dod

This coming Saturday, March 9th, Uproar Theatre Corps is pleased to host Uproar in Residency, a new initiative for networking and creation. Just like a tech startup company or Google’s famous “20% Time”, Uproar is bringing together the talented fresh minds of theatre and art to create the next big thing!

You have great ideas. Other people can help nurture those ideas. Uproar is here to connect you, introduce you, and get your idea off the ground and snowballing. Our first incubator session will be 1pm – 5pm on March 9th in Third North Residence Hall (Dance Room, Level C-3) and will be focused on arts advocacy. You and your friends are welcome to come and create the next big thing.

Joe Salvatore will be our special guest facilitator for catalyzing all those creative juices.

Why should you want to attend? Think about it this way. Rodgers and Hammerstein had to meet at some point right? Brecht and Wedekind didn’t connect over LinkedIn. Socrates and Plato didn’t tweet at each other. Meeting, collaborating, and brainstorming is how it’s done, and we’re here to help. The Source 4 didn’t invent itself. Theatre of the Oppressed didn’t come about in an hour. Thespis didn’t improvise. The next big thing is coming, and you’re making it.

For more information, and to reserve a space, email Uproar at uproartheatre@gmail.com.

The Crucible Opens!

The Crucible is currently in performance at The Provincetown Playhouse. As some of the performances were sold out, be sure and get your tickets for next weekend soon as this production is not to be missed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remaining performances are:

Thursday, March 7 at 8pm
Friday, March 8 at 8pm
Saturday, March 9 at 8pm
Sunday, March 10 at 3pm

Additionally, be sure and look at the blog for the show, featuring contributions by cast and crew. The blog can be accessed here.

And here is a sample post, written by Peter Duncanson:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My name is Peter Duncanson. I get to play John Proctor. Recently I have been grappling with the idea of freedom. I have become keenly aware of the chains that bind us in today’s culture. Cages of the mind that are laid pole by pole as we grow up until we are all grown up and find that cage comfortable. At least some of us do. We find ourselves in places, occupations, and relationships that don’t fit. These are the foundations we base our belief systems on, influenced by culture, religion, friends, and family as well as the need to survive. We learn make choices that hold survival at the pinnacle of virtue.

Because of this, the character John Proctor resonates deeply with me. I see him as a man who has a fierce darkness and filled with passion, both good and evil. Trapped in a culture that he has come to see as nothing but a cage. It is as if both his defeats and victories tear at his heart pulling in opposite directions. Yet a part of him is acutely sensible and clear. It is this earnest sense of morality he has come to find that has no place in the culture in which he resides. Let the journey begin!

http://cruciblenyu.tumblr.com

Reflections on Salvation Road: Music, Improv, and the Hurricane

By Natalie Mack

Family feuding, religious cults, the strong ties of friendship, and live music made D.W. Gregory’s Salvation Road a must-see, main-stage production in Steinhardt’s Program in Educational Theater. Under the direction of Dr. David Montgomery, the ensemble of Salvation Road worked closely to create a performance that suspended audiences between the past and present as its main character Cliff (Jack Dod) took us along his wild journey to rescue his sister Denise from an oppressive religious cult. His adventure was sprinkled with fond memories of life before Denise disowned her family, which came in the form of flashbacks that Cliff would seamlessly narrate audiences in and out of.

Natalie Mack and Jessica Honovitch perform. Photo by Chianan Yen.

As I played the cult-member and former rock-star sister Denise, I was given the rare opportunity to write music to be played live in the show. This process was a blast as I worked side-by-side with Assistant Director Jess Honovich (who played Denise’s band-mate, Patty) to create original songs written from the perspective of the character, and immersing the audience into the tight-knit, cause-driven, and comical musical world of Patty and Denise.

The process began with me bringing in a couple of original tunes that I had previously written, which we would then tweak and write lyrics for in the mindset of our characters. After reworking the songs, we’d develop vocal harmonies, catchy melody lines for our Casio keyboard player, and Jess would write parts for the Ukulele and Mandolin to top it all off.

My favorite song in the show “We’re Lost Horizon,” a foot-stompin’, mandolin strummin’, folk song, describes the back-story of the band’s name: Lost Horizon. The idea for the song came to me on my walk back from a high-energy rehearsal on a Friday night…I actually started mumbling the words of the chorus into the voice recorder on my iPhone as I walked eastward down Broadway (getting some funny looks from passerbys!). The next day I came into rehearsal with the scattered recording, and David, Jess, Dan (ASM & ensemble member), Talia (SM), and I began improvising on the original riff. Within about a half an hour with Jess on mandolin, and the rest of us coming up with words and stomp-clap rhythms (with Talia at the dry erase board jotting all of this madness down!), we came up with the band’s title song. Needless to say, our process involved serious collaboration, some quick-witted improv, and a whole lot of good old-fashioned fun.

Speaking of improv, the opening weekend of Salvation Road took an unexpected turn, to say the least. After an exciting opening night with the playwright in attendance, news of Hurricane Sandy began flooding headlines across the East coast. By the time the cast and crew were getting ready for our Sunday matinee, the vibe in the theatre (both onstage and off) was unsettling. The brave souls who came to the show entered Pless wearily in hopes of being able to return home safely, while the Salvation Road cast costumed up backstage, pondering the thought: If this storm really hits, this could be our last show… That afternoon our fearless director led us in a warm-up, knowing full well that it could be our last, and even under those ominous circumstances he reminded the cast of the hard-work , talent, and love that was poured into the production, and urged the Salvation Road family to ‘make it count.’

Undergraduate students Marco Santarelli, Marshall Burgart, and Jack Dodd share a moment during the show. Photo by Chianan Yen.

As we all know too well, the storm did in fact hit hard and the long-awaited school shows and second weekend of performances were sadly cancelled. Instead of a week filled with classes and performances for busloads of kids, the cast, crew, and entire NYU campus were faced with power outages, flooding, and little means of communication and transportation. It was not until the university reopened, that there was talk of remounting the show.

In just two days time, Dr. David Montgomery was able to wrangle the cast and crew back together to put on one final show on the Wednesday following the reopening of campus. The cast and crew were only able to get into the theatre 30 minutes prior to curtain. The spectacular cast and crew were costumed, made up, warmed up, and the stage and technical elements were ready to go in just a half hours time – the energy was way, way, up and the cast and crew were incredibly happy to be safely reunited for a final go.

 

Lamplighters

Lamplighters is a cross-school collaboratory theatre initiative for New York University students interested in Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA). Lamplighters is an All-Square organization at NYU open to ALL students from any of the colleges at the university.

Our Mission

Lamplighters is devoted to exploring engaging, accessible, and thoughtful theatre for all ages. Using the collaborative talents of a variety of students from all different schools at NYU, we strive to build a community of artists, educators, designers, and professionals who have a strong respect for and interest in TYA at NYU and in New York City. We work to promote a fun and stimulating environment of learning and creation, as well as provide opportunities for professional development, artistic achievement, group-learning, and collaboration through events, meetings, and the development of new productions.

For more information:

Follow us on…

Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/lamplightersatnyu

Twitter! https://twitter.com/LamplightersNYU

or email Lamplighters.club@nyu.edu