The Crucible Arrives at NYUSteinhardt in March

The Program in Educational Theatre’s spring production of Arthur Miller’s classic The Crucible opens at the Provincetown Playhouse on Friday, March 1st. Take a moment to look at the following social media links to track progress as the production approaches:

Blog: http://cruciblenyu.tumblr.com/

Twitter:  @CrucibleNYU13

Instagram: cruciblenyu13

Cast of The Crucible with Michael Earley, Chief Executive of Rose Bruford College of Theatre

About this Event:

Philip Taylor, Director
Program in Educational Theatre
LOCATION: The Provincetown Playhouse, 133 MacDougal Street
ADMISSION: $15 General, $5 Student and 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, March 1 at 8pm
Saturday, March 2 at 8pm
Sunday, March 3 at 3pm
Thursday, March 7 at 8pm
Friday, March 8 at 8pm
Saturday, March 9 at 8pm
Sunday, March 10 at 3pm

 

Famous People: Cecily O’Neill Returns to NYUSteinhardt

By Jonathan Jones

From Left to Right, Tarshai Peterson, Cody Page, and Cecily O’Neill listen intently as other participants talk about the characters they created.

To kick off the spring semester, the Program in Educational Theatre was pleased to welcome back renowned authority in Drama in Education, Cecily O’Neill. Among the classes she visited were Images of Women in Theatre, Methods of Conducting Creative Drama, and the MPAP Doctoral Collegium.

During her visit to Methods of Conducting Creative Drama, Cecily led the class in a variation of the Famous People process drama which is chronicled in her book Drama Worlds: A Framework for Process Drama. In the session, students were put in role as idealized celebrities who were unfortunately brought down by scandal in the press.

Students list the newspaper headlines that signaled the downfall of their imagined celebrities.

 

The students improvised scenes in order to work through the damage their character’s choices had brought upon their family and friends. Cecily interjected pedagogical reasoning and theory throughout the drama, such that the students were balancing their work as participants in the drama with their learning about the form outside of the drama.

Cecily O’Neill’s generosity to the program over the years is much appreciated, transforming the academic experience of hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students.

 

 

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Cecily O’Neill has been an internationally recognized leader in the field of drama education for many years. She will next visit NYUSteinhardt for the New Plays for Young Audiences play development series in June, 2013 and will contribute to the Drama and Youth Study Abroad Program in London in July, 2013.

 

 

Theatre Behind Bars

By Philip Taylor

The NYU Prison Theatre Initiative moves into its eighth year with 12 inmates from Sing Sing Correctional Facility studying American Drama in the fall 2012. Sing Sing is a maximum security prison which houses 2000 inmates, and is located in Ossining, New York, a one hour train commute north of Manhattan. The initiative involves a partnership with Rehabilitation through the Arts (RTA) and the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS).

Ed Theatre students have opportunities to intern under faculty mentorship after successfully completing a thorough orientation. Students wanting to study Prison Theatre in the spring should register for Applied Theatre 2.

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Further information about NYU’s prison theatre initiative and other arts-based projects in prisons can be obtained from www.rta-arts.com/  and Philip Taylor (pt15@nyu.edu).

RTA alumni Jeffrey Rivera (left) with Javier Cardona, Director of Arts & Education

 

 

Journey to Shakespeare

By Taylor Bernard

1940s family gathers around the radio to listen Much Ado About Nothing, creating the frame for our conceptualized piece.

This summer, high school students from all five boroughs and around the country came together to see if they could find Shakespeare. A team of professionals and graduate students under the direction of Professor David Montgomery led this diverse group of young people on their journey.

The team helped the Youth Ensemble find ways to truly connect with Shakespeare’s words and characters. Not only did the ensemble manage to perform in a full production of Much Ado About Nothing, but they also had opportunities to explore the entire production process. The students worked to build and paint the set, created their own masks, and learned a great deal about dramaturgy as they worked to create a post-WWII atmosphere for the production.

Youth ensemble members work with a professional costumer to review primary sources and sketches for costume designs.

One of the highlights of the course included a special screening of the film “Shakespeare High,” an award-winning documentary about a group of student-performers involved in the Drama Teachers Association of Southern California’s high school drama program that focuses its work on Shakespeare’s plays. The Looking for Shakespeare team also had a talk back with the film’s producer and actress Mare Winningham, who is one of the many famous alumni/ae of the DTASC program featured in the film.

I think if you asked anyone involved with the project whether or not we found him, I am positive the answer would be a resounding YES!

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For more than a decade, high school students have come to NYU Steinhardt to work with a director and graduate students from NYU to shape an original production of Shakespeare. This program is unique in that the ensemble members will work with director and a dramaturg to discover how a Shakespearean play resonates for them, within their own personal experiences. Using these connections as a source and inspiration, rehearse and perform, with the other ensemble members, their own vision of the play. The production is supported by designers and stage managers and is documented by a video artist.

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

 

Uproar Theatre Corps: Steinhardt’s Rabble-Rousing Student Theatre Group

By Robert Stevenson

Uproar Theatre Corps is a student-run Steinhardt club sponsored by the Undergraduate Student Government. Founded and led by undergraduates in the Program in Ed Theatre, Uproar is devoted to  sponsoring free workshops, panels, and theatrical competitions which supplement (and complement) Steinhardt coursework. Uproar also creates opportunities for students to write, design, direct, and act, while building a community of student-practitioners. All NYU students (undergrad, masters, and doctoral) are welcome to participate in Uproar events.

 

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Check out our blog: http://uproartheatre.blogspot.com/
Like us on facebook: http://facebook.com/uproartheatre

Inquiry, Reflection, Action!

By E. Okobi

Helen Barns in a scene from My Name is Rachel Corrie, their scene presentation for the 2012 NYU Steinhardt Educational Theatre Youth Ensemble scene showcase.

Paulo Freire’s theory of the student-teacher and Augusto Boal’s innovative work with “spect-actors”, and their espousal of an academic and artistic process based on inquiry, reflection, research and action inspired me to apply their theories in Theater: Pedagogy and Practice, a course taught in the Steinhardt Educational Theatre department by Amy Cordileone in Spring, 2012. The coursework involved working with members of the Educational Theatre Program’s Youth Ensemble.

The first thing we did as a group was sit and share our stories with each other, a feature common to Participatory Action Research, or PAR, a methodology deeply indebted to Freire. Through stories, we learned that not all of us had been born in the States, and that the majority of our little group was familiar with the immigration story, and its themes of cultural casualties (such as lost languages), code-switching and crossed signals. Together we reflected on the similarities and differences of our paths to the performing arts, and what we hoped to get from working together. We then set ground rules and established common goals together.

My colleague Justin Daniel and I were assigned three young women of varying performance experience and skill levels. Beyond meeting the challenge of finding scripts written for a multicultural, all female cast, I determined early that I would work with an intentionality that drew upon the work of Freire and Boal, and that developed their critical thinking and performance skills. After selections from the play My Name is Rachel Corrie were chosen for our scene, we set to work on character development and establishing the world of the play, which is based on the journals, letters and recordings of a young American woman killed while protesting Israeli government actions in Palestine. The young actors had all expressed a desire to take on challenging material, and this selection had been made with that request in mind. They immediately identified with the play’s young heroine, whose upbringing was quite different from their own, but whose words resonated with them nonetheless. We began establishing the world by first sharing the questions we had about Corrie’s life and writings. These questions informed the dramaturgical research undertaken by the young actors. Once this information was gathered, we reflected together on its content, and the emotional impact it had on us, and on ways to express what we’d learned through visual as well as physical performance. Each actor was cast to play Corrie at a specific time in her life (age twelve, nineteen and twenty-one respectively). Our questions and reflections led us to establish a spare set that provided not only visual context, but contributed its own narrative by tracing Corrie’s journey from sheltered young girl to worldly advocate.

Steinhardt Ed Theatre Youth Ensemble veteran Jackie Rivera portrays Rachel Corrie at age 21.

It’s a challenge to dramatize literature not written for performance. Our young actors repeatedly relied on inquiry, research, reflection and action to find the dramatic truth in Corrie’s writings, and to identify their own objectives and beat shifts. We discussed words, images and ideas found in Corrie’s writing that resonated with us, and used information gathered and reflections gleaned from conversations to ascertain their significance to Corrie, and in service to the story we were trying to tell. For the traditional director, this process can be frustrating. It is long, prone to tangents, and often takes time away from standard practices such as blocking and staging. It can be, however, invaluable to the young actor, particularly for those who join drama programs wishing to gain key pro-social, as well performance skills. The young ladies’ deep commitment to the subject matter provided incentive for them to memorize their lines, their curiosity led them to undertake exhaustive research well and beyond what they’d been asked to deliver, and the knowledge gained from this process bolstered their confidence in their ability to make thoughtful contributions to costume, props and staging for the piece.

By the time we began blocking our scene, their movements developed naturally and fluidly, shaped and informed by the research they’d done, their contributions to props and costumes, and their commitment to enlivening the words of a woman with whom they’d come to strongly identify. While Corrie’s words remain compelling more than a decade after her death, it’s uncertain that the actors we’d worked with would have produced the performances they gave without the freedom to fully engage with the text. If I had not come to this process convinced that the students I’d be working with had just as much to teach me as I did them, I would not have learned what I needed to know about their backgrounds and motivations to seek out a text that engaged them on both an academic and performance level. By treating my students as my intellectual equals, I co-facilitated a process through which they experienced marked artistic and academic growth. This experience underscored for me the genius of Freire and Boal, who assert that within each of us lies infinite, singular expertise. By allowing myself to acknowledge the skill of the students I worked with, I facilitated not just their growth as scholars, but also my own growth as an educator.

Members of the NYU Steinhardt Educational Theatre Youth Ensemble take their bows at the conclusion of their Spring 2012 showcase.

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The Program in Educational Theatre’s Youth Ensemble is comprised of young people aged 13-18 from the New York City area. They work with NYU students in Shakespeare’s Theatre I in fall and Theater: Pedagogy and Practice in spring with a culminating performance in April.

Creating the Play/Experiencing the Process

By Marco Santarelli

In spring 2012, NYU Steinhardt presented Theatrix! A Festival of 10-Minute Plays for the fourth consecutive year. While constantly evolving, the festival remains dedicated to the creation and production of student work in both Educational Theater’s undergraduate and graduate community. Unique to this year’s Theatrix! is its evolution into an intense and liberating form under the guidance of Amy Cordileone, the festival’s curator, who encouraged the participants to take risks in writing, directing, and performing their work.

Being chosen as a playwright for this year’s festival was an indescribable honor, albeit a nerve-shattering experience. It gave me an opportunity to take my creative process to a new and professional level. Instead of the usual “write something and see how it sounds” approach I normally take when writing, the Threatrix! team gave me specific guidelines, schedules, and even a playwriting mentor to keep me on task and help take my play from the page to the stage.

Before the plays were chosen, each playwright had to select a director to take on the role of casting and see the piece to completion. I had the honor of working with my friend and classmate, Jack Dod, who approached his role with enthusiasm and professionalism. For this totally collaborative effort, the Theatrix! team set up workshops, readings, panels, and a one-on-one mentorship for the playwright and director, giving them advice and encouragement during the long and strenuous process. What was most exciting to me, and to most of the students involved, was the playwriting panel sponsored by the Uproar Theater Corps.The panel consisted of three professional playwrights who spoke about their experience in the theater to the Steinhardt students and faculty. I was impressed with their unwavering dedication to their craft and was honored to have had the opportunity to discuss my play with them and to learn from them. I believe this instilled a surge of new energy into the process, as each playwright and director followed up by attacking his or her play with vitality, polishing and refining the work with the audience’s enjoyment in mind.

On a personal level, I had the opportunity to work with Daphie Sicre as my playwriting mentor. Her copious notes, as well as her comments and questions, helped me to see the work through the eyes of another playwright and audience member as we moved toward opening night. This was very important to me as my play, Dandelions for Angels, is loosely based on a difficult personal experience, so having a voice not connected to the subject was exactly what I needed. I’m thankful to Daphie, Amy, and the entire Theatrix! team for giving me the opportunity to revisit the months I spent lying in a hospital bed, following surgery for a brain tumor, and to bring my story, and the story of countless others, to the public. I am truly grateful for the Educational Theater community’s tireless efforts in and dedication to this collaborative process and for the opportunity to participate in this festival, which has provided one of the best experiences of my life.

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Theatrix! was established as a student-run play festival for students in the Program in Educational Theatre in 2003. In its current incarnation, the play festival involves the writing and performing of student-written ten-minute plays.

Fellowship (and Food!) in Florence

by Sara M. Simons
PhD Candidate

Sara on a trip to Capri

Last fall, I spent the semester in Florence on a fellowship through the NYU Provost’s Global Research Initiative. It was an amazing opportunity to work on my dissertation topic review at the gorgeous NYU Florence campus. The fellowship covered my travel costs as well as a living stipend, and I was given access to office space in one of the NYU Florence villas. I worked there with an Italian Studies doctoral student, and we decorated our office with rock and roll posters and occasionally went out for a bistecca fiorentina after work. I attended several events held on the NYU Florence campus, including a fabulous symposium about the future of U.S. politics featuring several famous political pundits, and a talk by legendary writer Pete Hamill.

Bistecca Fiorentina, the traditional dish of Florence

Although I missed my Educational Theatre students, I got updates from several of them over email, which always brightened my day. I was able to keep in touch with the faculty over email as well, and when the time came for me to present my topic review to doctoral Collegium, I was able to do so over Skype—at midnight Florence time!

I had never been to Italy before, and I took advantage of my fellowship to travel around the country. Although I stuck to a fairly studious routine during the week, I took several weekend trips to beautiful locales—notably Perugia, Venice, Sicily, Capri, and Paris! And of course the food was amazing! I would recommend that any doctoral students interested in writing from a new locale check out the Provost’s Global Research Initiative—there are now fellowships available in Florence, Berlin, Shanghai, London, Sydney, and Washington DC!

A view of Villa La Pietra at the NYU Florence campus

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For more information, visit:
http://www.nyu.edu/research/provosts-global-research-initiatives.html

Adventure and Spontaneity in YIKES!

By Tal Etedgi

Photo by Chianan Yen

I walked into the Provincetown Playhouse, signed in for the YIKES! audition, and waited a few minutes until I was called in. Walking down the steps of the theater, I was approached by Tony Graham, a wonderful director and teacher from England. He shook my hand, introduced himself, and asked me to sit down and talk about myself. At other auditions I’ve been to, I’ve felt that they were so rushed and that the auditors aren’t always listening to you so I appreciated that Tony listened to me and made me feel comfortable.

It was such an honor to receive a callback, and to be cast as the “Grandma” in YIKES! After reading the script, I was sure I had come across the most obscure and out of this world TYA musical. With that, rehearsals began, and we went right into the bazaar world of Grandma, Solomon (the grandson), Mary (the granddaughter), Baby, Zipper (the dog), and of course the Wakikata (characters from the Japanese tradition, known to be the assisters on stage who served as our obstacles, ancestors, and guides through our trek).

In rehearsals, Tony led the cast through collective warm-ups and exercises such as singing “Yonder Come Day” and a game in which one person was the choir director conducting the rest of the cast through sound. After the first week of rehearsals, everyone felt very connected and fully embraced this strange and obscure musical. Zipper, played by Gus Jacobson, was on all fours, while Mary, the ridiculous and angry teenager became snootier by the day.

Photo by Chianan Yen

When performances came around, I was eager to see how the students would react. After every school performance we gathered the entire cast and crew onstage, and had a Q & A session with the students. I’m sure I can speak for the cast when I say that we were blown away, and completely amazed by all of their questions and thoughts which included: “Where did the Grandma go?” “Who is going to take care of the children now that Grandma’s gone?” “Are the Wakikata angels?”

Being a part of YIKES! instilled so much adventure and spontaneity in my acting, and I want to thank Tony that as well as for the trust he had in the cast to put on this beautiful production, and the passion he has for theatrical journeys. I feel that from the moment I auditioned, to the end, the journey was strong, and powerful. The cast went beyond any expectation with this musical, and I no longer consider this show “obscure,” but as a beautiful piece of theatre that has a lasting effect on both young children and adults.

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Yikes! was presented at the Provincetown Playhouse in February 2012 featuring book and lyrics by Bryony Lavery, music by Gary Yershon, and direction by Tony Graham.

Letters to Grandma: YIKES! in the Classroom

by Alissa Crea

Undergraduate student Tal Etedgi appears as Grandma; Photo By Chianan Yen

During the week leading up to YIKES!, my cooperating teacher and I used the Teacher’s Resource Guide to help prepare students for the performance in order for the students to fully connect to the plot and themes of the play.

We implemented two of the recommended pre-show lessons: “Family Meal,” an improvisation activity helping students to make the fundamental connection between the main characters in YIKES! and members of their own families, as well as the pre-show lesson “Overcoming the Frights,” in which students created and drew their own frights and as a group decided together how they can overcome each fright.

During the show, I saw our first grade students stretching their necks to see the stage. Many students were commenting on the action during the performance which only lead to a richer discussion during the post-show debrief with the cast at the playhouse.

Sample student work

During the following week, first graders took part in the post-show activity “Letters to Grandma,” in which the students took on the role of one of the characters in the play and wrote a letter to their no longer present “Grandma” in their chosen character’s point of view. The letters that were produced during this activity were incredible! They were each extremely articulate and compassionate. It was very evident that each student had their own interpretation of the play, but came to this understanding with concrete, supportive ideas – a long-lasting skill for every child. The ideas and themes within YIKES! were relatable to so many students’ lives that we have been able to tie these same ideas and themes into many of our additional lessons.

Sample student work.

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Every semester, the Program in Educational Theatre hosts two free matinees of their mainstage productions for school children in the New York City area. Teacher’s Resource Guides are created by staff in the program and distributed for use in the classroom with preparatory and reflective activities. An archive of past resource guides is available here: http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/music/edtheatre/archive