Open Culture in the Asian Century

This summer, the 8th International Drama in Education Research Institute will convene in Singapore. International leaders, scholars, and students will meet for workshops, panels, paper presentations, and fellowship to re-imagine drama education.

Students participating in GET’s program in Zanzibar perform a scene they wrote about arranged marriage

One of the panels will feature three scholars from the Program in Educational Theatre: Professor Philip Taylor, doctoral candidate Soohyun Ma, and recent doctoral graduate Jennifer Holmes Socas.

The Theatre for Critical Social Change Panel: Hotspots and Healthy Futures will feature panelists from various global zones who will converse on how research enables the case for citizens’ health and well being in times of struggle. Where has the field excelled in making the case for theatre as a vital critical agent? What further scholarship is required? IDIERI creator, Philip Taylor, meets with artist-educators from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas.

Philip Taylor, (panel chair and IDIERI creator) is very well known to the applied theatre and drama education communities. Author of many influential texts, he teaches at NYU and is delighted to be in Singapore.

Jennifer Holmes, BA (Vassar College), MA (NYU), PhD (NYU) is Assistant Professor at City College of New York in the Theatre and Speech Department. She is the founder and director of Global Empowerment Theatre (GET).

Dr. Holmes working with a GET participant in Zanzibar

Soohyun Ma, a Drama Therapist, lectures in Dongduk Women’s University in Korea. Her doctoral dissertation is titled “Unveil the Invisible: Addressing Stigma Faced by Unwed Mothers in Korea through an Ethnodrama.”

Registration for IDIERI 8 is still open. Visit the following website for further details:

A Sense of Gratitude in Real Time

By Elena Stephenson

When I reflect on my directorial contributions for In Real Time, I can’t help but feel a sense of gratitude. I feel gratitude for the experience, gratitude for the depth of learning, and gratitude for being able to work with a talented design team and ensemble. This experience was new for me because it was my first time serving as a director for a new play in development.

Table read at first rehearsal.


This past summer I was able to take Problems in Play Production with professor and playwright, Joe Salvatore. During that class, I was able to track the role of a director in the new play development process. That learning got to come full circle once I was able to put it to practice, by working alongside Joe as a director for one of his plays.

Window Cast (L to R): Kirstin Kammermeyer, Megan Ibarra, and Kyla Blocker

I immediately connected with “How do You Say ‘Window’ in Italian?”, catching the Three Sisters Chekhov reference in the title. The play appealed to me because of the strong sibling dynamic and the way that the sisters resembled Olga, Masha, and Irina. It was impossible not to connect to this play on a personal level because of my husband’s work as a nurse, specifically caring for those that suffer from dementia.

Window cast with director, Elena Stephenson (second from left)

What I loved most about all these plays is though they were very different, they all held a common thread of exploring human connection and capturing a moment “in real time.”

Photo © Chianan Yen

Directing M Squared

By Nick Robertson

When Joe Salvatore posted the Student Directing notice for In Real Time, I jumped at the opportunity.  I’d taken three directing classes in the department (with Nan Smithner and Amy Cordileone, all of which I highly recommend) and was eager to put the concrete skills I’d learned into real-world practice.  I applied to direct M Squared, a mysterious little play about a semi-schlub of a guy, Chad, whose sedate life is totally disrupted when Marilyn Monroe crashes into his kitchen one night.  As I began my application, I realized skills alone were not going to be enough to successfully direct this show.  The play spoke to me in a very personal way and I would need to acknowledge that, lean into it, and be able to share it with other people in order to do the story justice.  Deep down, what I connected to was this person who’d built a safe and static life, denying himself of some very deep-seated desires (passion! excitement! beauty! glamor!) until his subconscious literally had to wake him up to the possibility of a more integrated and joyous existence.  Talk about a classic equation for comedy!  What followed were three and a half months of continually jumping into the void of vulnerability, sharing a private part of myself through this play, first with Joe, then my cast, then the designers, then finally with the audience.  I found that at each step of the journey, people not only accepted what I shared with them, but supported and appropriated it so that by opening night, all of us were telling the same story from our own very personal points of view.  It was a really magical collaborative experience throughout, and one I hope to replicate in all my other theatrical work.

Photo © Chianan Yen

Program in Educational Theatre Welcomes Students to the New EdD Program

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

A teacher once told me that to experience the sensation of being thrilled is to embrace the space where fear and excitement meet. I am thrilled! Thrilled to be embarking on a new journey at NYU and to be returning to the department of Educational Theater after 11 years in the field. I am also truly honored to be invited back to be part of this community. I live in Los Angeles and will be commuting virtually as well as joining study groups and intensive semesters whenever possible. As a teacher, I am particularly influenced by the work I do as an associate instructor of Fitzmaurice Voicework, focused on the release of breath and body tension in order to discover and express with authentic voice. I try to incorporate the principles of this practice into my work as a teaching artist, in an effort to help facilitate the empowerment of students as they seek to make themselves heard. I also perform regularly as a voice artist and actor and (most importantly) I’m a dad to two amazing little creatures (Luca 9 and Sascha 6) who want desperately to see New York City! I hope to focus my doctoral work on the design and implementation of meaningful teaching artist programs within the context of urban nonprofit arts organizations. As equal parts artist, educator, and administrator, I work full time across many facets of the field, and I hope to learn more about ways to add leadership and value to the various organizations I represent. Since I started my career after getting my masters in 2004, I have consistently found connection with and inspiration from fellow NYU alums as mentors, colleagues, and friends all over the country. There is no other program I know of with as far reaching impact, and it is with the most sincere gratitude that I join you!

Program in Educational Theatre Welcomes Students to the New EdD Program

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

Carmen Meyers: Thrilled and Honored

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

Theatre Practices in Puerto Rico: Once in a Lifetime Experience

By Rachel Gubow

The Theatre Practices in Puerto Rico intersession was a once in a lifetime opportunity that allowed me to explore dance, movement, and theatre through a different cultural lens.

In Javier Cardona’s physical theatre class I was pushed to physical and mental limits as our ensemble explored unconventional ways of creating movement that connected body and voice as one whole instrument.  Our trip was filled with delicious food, meeting brilliant artists, seeing moving performances, and learning to dance bomba.

One of our many adventures in the city of Old San Juan included participating in a parade to celebrate San Sebastian Festival which fills the narrow city streets with over half a million people!  As we all enjoyed the beautiful weather and rich bonding experience, I came to a deeper understanding of how we can use art and theatre to break down barriers and tell stories that connect us within and across cultures.

In Real Time: Educational Theatre Presents Six Original, Student-Directed Plays

In Real Time, a premiere performance of six new short plays written by NYU Steinhardt faculty member Joe Salvatore, will be presented by the NYU Steinhardt Program in Educational Theatre February 27-March 8, 2015. Each play is directed by students, working closely with Salvatore and 14 student actors.


The six short plays that make up In Real Time come from a series of eighteen plays that Salvatore wrote in 2012. Three of the plays were subsequently developed as part of a Writers Roundtable sponsored by the Program in Educational Theatre during the 2012-13 academic year. Salvatore also taught playwriting workshops to 180 middle school and high school students throughout New York City, whose feedback provided additional insights to develop the plays. Many of those students will attend the show in special school matinee performances on March 2 and March 6 at 10 a.m.

In Real Time features scenic design by Andy Hall, lighting design by Emily Stork, costume design by Márion Talán, and sound design and composition by Sam Crawford and Zeb Gould. The production stage manager is Talia Krispel, and Keith R. Huff serves as the production’s dramaturg. The directors are NYU Steinhardt students Katie Braun, Elena Stephenson Campbell, Yulissa Hidalgo, Haven Mitchell-Rose, Nick Robertson, and Shanae Sharon. The cast features NYU Steinhardt students Isaiah Bent, Kyla Blocker, Kordell Draper, David Ello, Nicole Gebler, Megan Ibarra, Kirsten Kammermeyer, Alexis Lounsbury, Adam Miller, Charlie Ponty, Sarah Smith, Devin Miranda Weise, Rachel Tuggle Whorton, and Peter Zerneck.

NYU’s production of In Real Time runs February 27-28, March 5-7 at 8pm, and March 1 and 8 at 3pm, at the Provincetown Playhouse (133 MacDougal Street). Tickets are $15 general admission and $5 for students and seniors. For tickets, contact NYU Box Office at or call the box office at 212.998.4941, or visit in person at 566 LaGuardia Place (at Washington Square South).

#TBT Nancy and Lowell Swortzell, 1966

By Jonathan Jones

Next year, we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Program in Educational Theatre. So much has transpired during our history at NYU and we will have multiple opportunities to reflect on the historic contributions of the Program during the next 18 months. Starting the journey, I present this image of Program co-founders Nancy and Lowell Swortzell collaborating on a production of Gammer Gurton’s Needle by John Still in the very first year of the Program: 1966.

If you have photographs or memories from the Program that you would like to share with the Educational Theatre community on the blog, please let me know. I can be reached at