Towards the Fear: The creation of an interview theatre piece

By Arielle Sosland

Towards the Fear, directed and created by Professor Joe Salvatore is an interview theatre piece that focuses on topics of bullying, social combat and aggression.

The company consists of eight actors/researchers, four Drama Therapy students and four Educational Theatre students.

The Cast in Rehearsal

As a student studying Educational Theatre, working with the Drama Therapy students has allowed me to consider theatre through a therapeutic lens. Although not trained in Drama Therapy practices, through working with these four actors/researchers, I am engaging in discussions on how this work may emotionally affect our audiences.

Before rehearsals began, we were required to complete the UCAIHS (University Committee on Activities Involving Human Subjects) Certification Exam that allows us to conduct research involving human subjects.  In our initial rehearsals, Joe trained us in the proper interview protocol and informed us of the six open-ended prompts and questions that we used with each of our interview participants.

As the interviews were happening outside of rehearsal, in rehearsal we were devising movement pieces based off of source material and conversations surrounding the topics of bullying, social combat, and aggression. We worked to create three movement pieces to be showcased at the beginning, middle and end of the performance and essentially break up the interviews. Our initial movement piece was created based on the research of Robert Faris and Diane Felmlee on Social Networks and Aggression at the Wheatley School.  Both of these sociologists make appearances in the interview sections as well.

Once we finished the interviews, each actor/researcher transcribed up to three of the most compelling 2-3 minute sections of each interview. We then took three or four rehearsals to assemble the script.  First, we narrowed our participants down to twenty “characters” for the performance, and then a second pass reduced that number to sixteen.  Then we grouped the interview sections into categories to determine which sections worked nicely with others.

Eventually, we had about 70 pages laid out on the floor of the Drama Therapy Room in the Pless Annex and with great excitement we were able to say, “we have our script!”

To be part of physically fitting the pieces of the script together allowed all the actors to feel a great sense of accomplishment when we were able to step back and look at the transcriptions laid out in order on the ground.

Through this project we hope to motivate audience members to reflect on their own experiences of bullying, social combat, and aggression, and act on ways to change these environments. Towards the Fear, the title of our production reminds audience members the challenge of changing aggressive environments and yet the adults we interviewed all stand as examples that we are able to persevere and to empower others. I look forward to seeing and hearing audience reactions about the piece and stirring up critical conversations about this important topic.

For the full research article by Faris and Felmlee click here: http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/10/10/findings.from.the.wheatley.school.pdf

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Towards the Fear: An exploration of bullying, social combat, and aggression
Created and Directed by Joe Salvatore and members of the company
Program in Drama Therapy

LOCATION: Provincetown Playhouse
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)

Thursday, April 10 at 8pm
Friday, April 11 at 8pm
Saturday, April 12 at 8pm
Sunday, April 13 at 3pm

Summer 2014: Applied Theatre on the Square

The Program in Educational Theatre is offering a wide variety of applied theatre courses this summer from our beautiful Washington Square campus in NYC! Come explore playmaking, performance, and pedagogy with some of the top practitioners in the field, using New York City and Washington Square as your setting, text, and inspiration.

Courses include:

MPAET-GE 2077 Methods and Materials of Research in Educational Theatre

with Professor Joe Salvatore

This course will focus on how arts-based research can be used to create live performances and/or play scripts composed from qualitative research data collected through an interview process.  Specifically, verbatim interview theatre techniques will be introduced and situated within the larger genre of ethnotheatre, and it will become clear how ethnotheatre contributes to the arts-based qualitative research paradigm.

 

MPAET-GE 2978 Applied Theatre Praxis:Drama as Catalyst for Social Awareness (formerly Coping with Conflict)

with Dr. Philip Taylor

This course examines the social effects of applied theatre in community, vocational and educational settings. Informed by the work of Paulo Freire as well as other critical theorists and arts activists, like Augusto Boal and Bertolt Brecht, students will design and evaluate projects which have a social justice and human rights agenda.

 

MPAET-GE 2110 Devised Theatre: Theory  and Technique

with Dr. Nan Smithner

Through scholarly discussions, introduction of techniques, and resource sharing, students will explore a broad range of theories and methodologies of devised theatre. Students will also investigate companies and artists in New York City who devise their own work through field trips and lectures. Additionally, the class will work together to create a devised theatre piece incorporating environmental theatre and the resources of the city.

 

See you at the Square!

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

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

Applied Theatre 2: Engaging Communities with Transformative Theatre

By: Ashley Hamilton and Clare Hammoor

Professor Taylor’s Applied Theatre II class was assigned the mission of exploring the field of transformative theatre through several different projects this semester. Each student in the class was asked to choose a site and a population that they could work with. They were given a number of tools and techniques to apply the theoretical concepts discussed in class within their communities. The sites ranged included: classrooms, religious spaces, alternative learning centers, traditional theatrical stages and more. Each project worked with a unique population within the site. The populations included: grade school children learning about kindness, women being interviewed on body image, suspended middle schoolers, actors seeking development, and more. Here are a few snippets from these experiences.

Dana and Hoyeung: Theatre of the Oppressed Workshops

We led weekly Theatre of the Oppressed workshops with nine actors who have an interest in social justice. After the 6 sessions had taken place, a forum theatre performance happened on April 28th. Our goal was to expose the actors to TO work and pass along some knowledge about it so that they can use it in their future work. Our performance goal is to expose a systemic issue and create dialogue about possible solutions and what we can do as a community. A brief video of part of a session can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/FQzvuptouKM

Ashley, Nikki, and Nicole: DISORDERED

Ashley interviewed 25 different women on their experiences with body image and the American media. The data was then transcribed and assembled into a script. A play reading was held on April 25th with four actresses. There was an inner- active component of the reading in which the audience participated in answering the question: “my body is…”. Their answers were then transplanted into the script reading. After the reading, there was a talkback with a member of the NYU Health and Wellness Eating Disorder team and the audience was asked to fill out a response to the reading with their questions and thoughts. The intention behind this piece was to both raise awareness around female body image in America and also report on the experience on being a researcher pursuing interview- based theatre. Ashley also performed a part of the piece at the -ISM Project Showcase hosted by NYU’s CMEP on April 23rd.

Interested students should take Professor Philip Taylor’s Fall course, Applied Theatre 1, for an introduction to this work. The course will take place on Tuesdays from 4:55pm to 6:35pm for 3 credits. The course number is: MPAET-GE 2101-001.

Applied Theatre: Sanctuary for Homeless LGBTQQI Youth

By: Jamie Cacciola-Price

Sanctuary, an ethnodrama in one act is based on the stories and writings of LGBTQQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Intersex) homeless youth that live at a local shelter. For the past two years I have conducted interviews with the youth, as well as facilitated writing workshops where they wrote journals, poetry, and letters. The piece explores topics ranging from lack of employment, prostitution, discrimination, sexual abuse, HIV, love, skinny jeans, Little Debbie’s and Beyoncé. I was drawn to tell these stories because of the growing epidemic of homeless queer youth in New York City, particularly among transgender and intersex youth of color. During the script development stage I was influenced by the vividness and graphic nature of the youth’s writings and chose to showcase their stories through a combination of flashback/frozen action sequences scattered within a linear story structure that follows the youth over a period of three days in June of 2012. Further aiding my process was Stephen DiMenna’s playwriting class, where I was able to try different approaches to the storytelling to see what was affective. Sanctuary is important because it raises awareness and provides a voice to a population that so desperately needs to be heard. The rich talk back and discussion following the premiere reading on April 27 at NYU illustrated to me that this play has the potential to change hearts and minds, and should a production ever come to fruition it will be because of the mentorship and guidance of the many great professors, researchers and artists that I’ve had the privilege to work within the Program in Educational Theatre.