Mask Making in Puerto Rico

MA student, Jennifer Luong wrote a detailed blog about the mask-making process taught by Deborah Hunt in the Puerto Rico Study Abroad Intersession Program in January, 2013. Here is an excerpt:

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January 15th, Jennifer –

Since the majority of the class is in the Physical Theatre group, I thought I should take the opportunity of the “day off” entry to share my notes for mask construction.

Clay mold:
Deborah had a plaster cast of a blank-neutral face set out on the table – one to each seat. The plaster was used as a guide to work with and was more time-efficient for our purposes. It was on top of this plaster mold that we built the clay mold for our masks.
– Using fishing line with two clothes pins tied to each end, cut a one inch block of clay to place under the plaster mold. This helps give the plaster mold more height to work with.
– Fill in any empty space under the plaster to bring edges of the clay to match the edges of the plaster mold.  Smooth it all out.
– Start building your mask. Deborah reminded us to exaggerate the features and that it doesn’t have to look human. She also reminded us to keep checking the profile of the masks: are the features interesting?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paper Mâché-ing:
– Put a thin layer of Vaseline on the mold.
– The glue we used was wallpaper glue mixed with water.
– Rip off the straight edges of the paper and dump them. Following the grain of the paper, rip (do not cut!!!) strips of paper.
– When paper mâché-ing, be sure to work the glue into the paper.
– Overlapping of the paper is what makes it strong.
– We paper mâchéd our mold in four layers: newsprint, brown crafting paper, newsprint, brown crafting paper.
– Start with the edges of the mold and then work your way in to the face.
– Make sure the last layer is super smooth. This is the surface you will paint on!
– Let the paper mâché out for drying!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cutting and Wiring:
– When the paper mâché is dry, it is time for the mask to undergo a surgery! Using a box cutter, cut along the rim of the mask to free it from the cardboard base the mask is sitting on.
– Then cut the mask straight down the middle of the forehead and down to the tip of the nose. Make the cut deep to make sure all four layers are cut!
– Get a good grip on the paper mâché and peel it off the mold. This is why sufficient Vaseline is important! If there is not enough Vaseline, it will be tough to peel off. If there is excess, the duct tape in the next step will not stick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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To continue reading Jennifer’s post about the mask-making process, visit:

http://nyutheatrepracticespr2013.tumblr.com/post/40822415156/january-15th-jennifer

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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

From the Program Director

Welcome back to the spring, 2013 semester.  As students learn to make, perform, evaluate, apply and teach theatre, it is important that they have opportunities to engage with various artistic endeavors that support the rich course work they take in the Program. As such, there are a number of upcoming activities that I’d like to highlight.

For our spring main stage production, The Program in Educational Theatre is pleased to present The Crucible by Arthur Miller in the Provincetown Playhouse.  Directed by Philip Taylor, this promises to be a profoundly significant and contemporary production. The Program recently benefited when Michael Earley, an Arthur Miller scholar and president of Rose Buford College in the UK, offered a fascinating lecture on Miller for the cast and other NYU students.  Many Educational Theatre students are involved in The Crucible, from the actors to the production team, so you won’t want to miss this exciting theatrical event beginning March 1st.  And check out The Crucible blog at:

http://cruciblenyu.tumblr.com/

Our signature outreach effort, Shakespeare to Go (STG) continues to bring their exceptional performances of Hamlet to schools across NYC, providing the opportunity for young people to experience a Shakespeare play that is meaningful and engaging. Under the direction of Daryl Embry with a large cast of talented student-actors, STG continues to provide inspiration to hundreds  of our city’s young people, many of which will see Shakespeare performed for the first time in their lives thanks to the efforts of STG.

Our Program is invested in bringing new works to new audiences as we strive to really identify how the art form shapes and changes the world. To that end, The Writers’ Roundtable emerged in the fall of 2012, focused on investigating the roles of structure and accountability in the creative processes of playwrights at various stages in their careers, honing in on the particular experiences of young writers from our Program, who were commissioned by the university to write full-length, original work. As part of our mission to develop and present new theatre, Roundtable members delivered eight brand new plays in the fall semester, including two pieces from former Educational Theatre students Emily Kaczmarek and Tyler Grimes.  Participating playwrights include: Nikkole Salter, Deborah Zoe Laufer, Joe Salvatore and Greg Kotis. Roundtable members will be presenting new work this spring as well, so stay tuned for further information.

http://www.playbill.com/news/article/172915-NYUs-Play-Development-Program-With-Works-by-Greg-Kotis-Steve-Drukman-Tyler-Grimes-Launches-Dec-6

Also this semester, Theatrix! has teamed up with students from the Music Composition program to bring original short plays and musicals to life.  These performances will take place in the Blackbox theatre, March 29 – 31. Be sure to join us, as this is the first endeavor of its kind for our program. We feel certain this festival will defy expectations.

The Program applauds the work of Uproar Theatre Corp, the NYU Steinhardt club formed by Educational Theatre students, devoted to producing new theatrical works as well as sponsoring workshops, panels, and theatrical competitions for the Steinhardt community. Please check out their blog and upcoming events:

http://uproartheatre.blogspot.com/

The Program in Educational Theatre hosts yearly conferences in April for practitioners, artists, scholars, researchers and students who are interested in exploring questions that fuel each year’s conference.  Last year’s conference, The Forum on Theatre for Young Audiences, was convened by visiting professor Tony Graham and brought folks from around the globe to the NYU campus to explore TYA practices in depth. This year’s conference, Developing New Works for the Theatre promises to add to our prestigious succession of world-renowned conference events, and students are strongly encouraged to attend.  Volunteers are always needed at the conferences as well. Information on several unique opportunities to be involved with the event will be published shortly.

We are also moving into the time of year when NYU students look ahead to consider ways in which to be involved with summer courses and projects.  In addition to courses that will be offered on campus, the Program will continue running our award-winning New Plays for Young Audiences (NPYA) series, developing three outstanding new TYA plays.  Students should be on the lookout for upcoming announcements regarding auditions for the staged play readings happening in the Provincetown Playhouse this June.  Students can also take the accompanying three credit course for the series, Theatre Practices: Problems in Play (MPAET-GE.2152-001), which will be taught by Joe Salvatore.  After NPYA ends, the Looking for Shakespeare project will bring secondary students from across the country to the NYU campus to work on and produce a Shakespeare play.  This will be directed by Dr. Nancy Smithner, and the accompanying course for this project will allow NYU students to have practical, hands-on experiences working with the young people.  The accompanying three credit course is called Creating Youth Theatre Productions (MPAET-GE.2982-001) and will also be taught by Nancy Smithner.

The London study abroad curriculum is taking shape with a new initiative in TYA being launched at Rose Bruford College, and with the Heathcote conference at University of Greenwich. Theatre visits to the Globe, the RSC, WestEnd, Unicorn, OilyCart, the fringe and more will also be a part of this program being led by Dr. Philip Taylor. Following the London course, NYU students in Dublin will work with Ireland’s finest drama practitioners and theatre artists, exploring community-engaged theatre with affiliations through Upstate Theatre and the Samuel Beckett Centre at Trinity College in Dublin. Under the leadership of Joe Salvatore, skills to be explored include facilitation, devising, and playwriting/adaptation, along with approaches to using dramatic activities to create context for theatre work. Having just returned from leading the January Intersession program in Puerto Rico with NYU students, I’m happy to report that the Educational Theatre Program continues to be the finest institution in our field for global studies.  Our study abroad programs consistently provide transformative experiences for students, and for more insight into Puerto Rico program, please check out the Theatre Practices in Puerto Rico blog with entries written by Educational Theatre students:

http://nyutheatrepracticespr2013.tumblr.com/

So there’s a lot to look forward this semester, and this summer.  I encourage Educational Theatre students to get involved wherever possible, for the artistic possibilities of collaboration that involve faculty, students, alumni, and guest artists compel explorations that are the best means for achieving artistic growth. I want to thank the top-notch Educational Theatre adjunct faculty, as well as my colleagues Philip Taylor, Nan Smithner, Joe Salvatore, Amy Cordileone and Jonathan Jones for helping launch another exhilarating year in Educational Theatre. Have a great semester everyone!

David Montgomery, PhD

Director, The Program in Educational Theatre

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