From the Program Director

By: David Montgomery, PhD

As we prepare to embark on a new school year, I would like to extend a heartfelt welcome to new and returning students to the Program in Educational Theatre at NYU. For many students, the beginning of the school year is a time filled with excitement and anticipation as they prepare to reacquaint themselves with friends, develop new friendships, and enter the next phase of their educational journey.

Summer 2014 for the Program was one of our busiest yet—with courses, projects, international presentations, and performances. Students attending our London study abroad program, Drama and Youth led by Dr. Philip Taylor, took part in a variety of transformative experiences, including TYA programming at Rose Bruford College, site visits to Oily Cart, stimulating Drama in Education workshops and loads of theatre visits!

Our two annual projects on campus, New Plays for Young Audiences (NPYA) and Looking for Shakespeare, received critical acclaim. For its 17thseason, NPYA presented three new works at the historic Provincetown Playhouse: Pollywog written by John McEneny and directed by Annie Montgomery, Pink Think written by Eric Pfeffinger and directed by Nancy Smithner, and Welcome to Terezin written by Philip Glassborow and directed by Deirdre Lavrakas from the Kennedy Center. The culminating staged readings of each play showcased strong performances from our undergraduate and graduate student actors who worked with the playwrights, directors and dramaturg Cecily O’Neill to help develop the plays. NPYA also collaborated with NYC middle school students as they as they participated in drama workshops connected to the plays, created their own original TYA plays, and provided valuable feedback to the playwrights about their work.

The other major summer project at Washington Square was our young people’s ensemble, Looking for Shakespeare, which presented Twelfth Night. This show was wonderfully mounted and directed by Dr. Jonathan Jones, and produced by alum Robert Stevenson. Adding to this was our ‘Applied Theatre on the Square’ suite of courses, which included a course in Devised Theatre taught by Dr. Nancy Smither, Applied Theatre Praxis taught by Dr. Philip Taylor, and Methods and Materials of Research in Educational Theatre taught by Joe Savlatore. Dr. Amy Cordileone and I also taught courses in directing and drama across the curriculum.

Summer 2014 virtually came and went, but we are exciting for what lies ahead. The Program will continue to offer splendid courses in the three areas of concentrated study: drama education, applied theatre, and play production for artists and educators. Last year, we saw student-teaching transpire throughout NYC schools, teams of Educational Theatre students create applied theatre on a range of social justice issues; an acting troupe travel to schools with adaptations of Shakespeare; various theatre of the oppressed events showcased; directors’ scenes that were presented weekly; and the planning and hosting of an international conference on Teaching Artistry. All of this activity will carry on and grow as we move into 2014 /2015.

For a number of Educational Theatre students, they will be mentored in New York City schools, fulfilling their requirements for teaching certification. This field based work is central to developing professionals, as students plan, implement and evaluate their teaching in partnership with cooperating mentors. Likewise, our wide ranging applied theatre work in community sites, like our prison theatre initiative, will continue with the goal, as stated by Philip Taylor in his book[i], of ‘raising awareness about how we are situated in the world and what we as individuals and as communities might do to make the world a better place.’

Looking toward our exciting production calendar, I will be directing Little Shop of Horrors this fall, which will include a most fitting performance on Halloween. With Rachel Whorton as musical director, it promises to be a whole lot of fun. We invite you to audition for the musical that will be mounted in the Black Box Theatre.  Our Shakespeare to Go (STG) troupe will also be inviting you to audition, as adjunct instructor and alum Daryl Embry will direct a Shakespeare play (TBD) that will travel to various schools in New York City, providing a wonderful theatrical experience for young people.

Our annual storytelling events, produced and curated by Regina Ress, will feature renowned artists from around the globe telling their tales, and our Theatrix! project will keep on profiling new work by students, providing them with opportunities to develop their artistry. Last year was highly memorable as Theatrix brought new musicals to life, and this year promises to be equally stimulating. Theatrix provides a wonderful opportunity for collaboration and looking back, I have seen time and time again the ways in which the relationships developed through Theatrix! have turned into professional artistic relationships after graduation (see Student and Alumni Update on ‘Play/Date’ in this newsletter as an example). Also, our Writers’ Roundtable will maintain their exploration of the roles of structure and accountability in the creative processes of playwrights at various stages of their careers. Finally, superb artistic happenings will take place through the Uproar Theatre Corp and Lamplighters, two active Steinhardt clubs that were formed by Educational Theatre students. All this exciting activity reveals that there are many opportunities for students to get involved in projects outside of their course work.

A program as rich as ours is dependent on great teaching and teamwork.  I am grateful to my colleagues—Philip Taylor, Nan Smithner, Joe Salvatore, Amy Cordileone and Jonathan Jones—as well the exceptional adjunct faculty and our office administrator Rochelle Brown, for all their hard work, dedication and care.

From the Program Director

By Dr. David Montgomery

The holidays always serve as a sudden reminder of the fact than an entire year has almost past.  It’ fun to look back, and when reflecting on Educational Theatre’s fast moving fall semester, so many events pop to mind that helped to make it exceptional.

The fall main-stage production of Meta, by Deborah Zoe Laufer and directed by Amy Cordileone, appealed to audiences of all ages by combining ancient stories with modern styles and music to examine the cyclical nature of humanity. With strong direction and top-notch performances and ensemble work by the actors, the story of Echo who looked critically at her own life was both educational and entertaining.  It was wonderful to see the high school audiences at matinees so highly engaged with the piece and asking significant questions during the post-show talk-backs, revealing the notable ways in which the show sparked audiences’ curiosity about the myths and their relevance to current society. Another collaborative effort resulted in performances of Sam Shephard and Joe Chaikin’s play Tongues. Directed by Dr. Nancy Smither in partnership with Jonathan Haas, the Director of Percussion Studies who oversaw the percussion ensemble, educational theatre actors and percussion students worked creatively to bring the play’s monologues to life through movement, words and inspired percussion instruments/sounds, creating a dynamic and visual theatrical experience.  The group was a big success at the The PASIC conference in Indianapolis, and performed again on campus at the Loewe Theatre.

Congratulations go out to our two student organizations as well. Uproar Theatre Corp had great success with their production of Godspell, directed by educational students  Sarah Jaffee and Dan Walsh, which incorporated clever staging and imaginative choreography to showcase students’ fantastic singing and acting abilities. Very impressive! Also, members of The Lamplighters created 5 beautiful pieces of theatre for young people that were showcased in December. Looking ahead, next semester we look forward to seeing Educational Theatre’s main stage production of School for Scandal, directed by Dr. Nancy Smithner, as well as the Theatrix short play festival and the performances of the NYU Youth Theatre Ensemble and Shakesspeare to Go. Additionally, an exciting collaboration between Drama Therapy and Educational Theatre will result in an upcoming performance about bullying, directed by Joe Salvatore. More information is to come regarding this performance, so stay tuned.

This semester’s Applied Theatre series featured workshops from facilitator Peter Friedrich who demonstrating theatrical techniques he used when working with an Islamic post-conflict society, from Anna Hermann and Imogen Ashby of the organization Clean Break who who explored their work with women in the UK criminal justice system, and from political-artistic coordinator Geo Britto who lectured about Augusto Boal and the work of the Center of the Theatre of the Oppressed’s in Rio. Other guest lecturers visited the Applied Theatre and Drama in Education classes, and in many courses, exciting work was created and shared. Theatre-making projects, as found in the Theatre of the Oppressed and Devising Theatre classes among  others, were showcased for the public at the end of the semester which celebrated the tremendous artistic work of our students.  I’ve also seen some very impressive masks and puppets floating around the office, created by students in Ralph Lee’s Mask and Puppetry class.

Importantly, several students put drama education theory into practice this semester as they student-taught at schools throughout the city. These students confronted the issues that every beginning teacher faces, planning lessons, knowing students as individuals and as members of a group, creating a positive classroom climate, expecting the unexpected—and much more.  Additionally, with the help of their instructors, they focused on successfully preparing for the new edTPA test.

So many other significant events transpired this semester, some of which are reflected in the older pages of this blog, and I want to thank the students, faculty, and larger Educational Theatre community for making it so special. Looking ahead, I’m struck with a wave of excitement for 2014, where the Program in Educational Theatre will continue to flourish, thrive and do great things. On behalf of the Program’s faculty, we wish you all the happiest of holidays and hope this year brings you joy, good health and success in all your endeavors.

From the Program Director: Welcome to Fall 2013

Welcome back to the fall 2013 semester. What a memorable summer it was for the Program in Educational Theatre! In addition to our on-campus course offerings, the New Plays for Young Audiences (NPYA) series completed its 16th season in June. NPYA once again saw student-actors and professional directors, as well as dramaturg Dr. Cecily O’Neill, develop three new TYA plays: What We Lost Along the Way by Corrine Esme Glanville, Meeka’s Rising by Carol Korty, and Shahrazad 1001, written by our very own Educational Theatre alum, Ramon Esquivel. This was followed in July by a spectacular production of As You Like It.  With teenagers from the Looking for Shakespeare (LFS) program performing the play, this version took place in the 1960’s and was great fun. Under the direction of Dr. Smithner, the annual LFS program once again gave graduate students registered for the accompanying course the invaluable experience of working with the youth acting ensemble, as well as the chance to delve into Shakespeare’s language and hone their coaching skills.

Students attending our London study abroad program, Drama and Youth led by Dr. Philip Taylor, had numerous rich experiences, including TYA programming at Rose Bruford College and site visits to Oily Cart and the Conference on Dorothy Heathcote as new additions to the curriculum. Some students continued on after the London program to join a new cohort of Educational Theatre students in our course on Community-Engaged Theatre in Dublin, led by Joe Salvatore, where they worked with Ireland’s finest drama practitioners with affiliations through Upstate Theatre and the Samuel Beckett Centre at Trinity College in Dublin. It’s exciting to see the Program have such international visibility.

The summer months went by quickly but we enthusiastically embark on a new academic year. As always, there are lots of opportunities for students to get involved in projects outside of their course work. The main stage Educational Theatre production this fall is Myths of Metamorphoses, written and developed by Deborah Zoe Laufer (with help from the ensemble). This exciting new play is being directed by Dr. Amy Cordileone, with musical direction by Rachel Whorton, and will presented in the Black Box Theatre. You won’t want to miss it!

Throughout the year our annual storytelling events, produced by Regina Ress, will feature renowned artists telling tales from around the globe. Our Shakespeare to Go (STG) troupe will be inviting you to audition for their cut version of Julius Caesar. Directed by Daryl Embry, the play and its actors will travel to schools in New York City, providing inspiration to hundreds of our city’s young people, many of whom will see Shakespeare performed for the first time in their lives. Our Theatrix! project, launched in 2003, will continue to profile new work by students and provide them with opportunities to develop their artistry and collaborate with classmates. Last year Theatrix! brought the Educational Theatre community together with students from the Program in Music Composition to bring original musicals to life.  It was highly memorable–and we’ll keep you posted about similar Theatrix! events and projects as they develop. So remember to read all the educational theatre emails you receive about artistic projects, program announcements, seminars, internships and employment opportunities from the educational theatre list-serve.

Other artistic happenings throughout the year will transpire through Uproar Theatre Corp and Lamplighters, two very active Steinhardt clubs that were formed by Educational Theatre students. Uproar will be presenting Godspell on the weekend of November 21st, so keep a look out for more information about where that will be presented. Also, our Writers’ Roundtable will continue to investigate the roles of structure and accountability in the creative processes of playwrights at various stages of their careers.

I am pleased to announce that after another thought-provoking annual Forum last April that explored the process of Developing New Works for Theatre, next year’s Forum will investigate and pose questions around the work of Teaching Artists. Rest assured there will be lots of opportunities for students to get involved in this two day investigation of the teaching artist and teaching artistry that is sure to bring major interest and constituencies together to the NYU campus.

There’s a lot to look forward to this year, and I want to thank the outstanding Educational Theatre adjunct faculty, as well as my dedicated colleagues Philip Taylor, Nan Smithner, Joe Salvatore, Amy Cordileone and Jonathan Jones, for creating a dynamic environment where invigorating artistic work and meaningful learning transpires.

From the Program Director

Time goes by quickly.  It seems like we just started the fall 2012 semester and now we are preparing to graduate many of our students this spring. As the semester comes to a close and I reflect on the academic year, I’m astounded by the quality and depth of student work that has transpired in our educational theatre classrooms and performance spaces, much of which is documented in this blog. Projects that have happened beyond coursework have also been impressive–and inspiring. All one has to do is look back over the numerous Educational Theatre list-serve notices and invitations sent over the last 10 months to find an abundance of theatre activities on display–including applied theatre workshops, play readings, TYA productions, fully produced plays, and many other teaching/learning opportunities and events for which our students have been involved. These reveal an incredible record of collaboration, artistry, diversity and passion within the Educational Theatre community.

While the semester comes to an end, the summer and fall launch new and exciting course possibilities for students who are continuing their studies.  In its 16th year, this summer we are excited to continue our annual New Plays for Young Audiences series at the Provincetown Playhouse in June, as well as the class that accompanies it, Problems in Play Production. Students of our London summer program, being led by Philip Taylor, will have numerous rich experiences, including site visits to Oily Cart and the Conference on Dorothy Heathcote as new additions to the curriculum. Some students will continue on after London and join other Educational Theatre students in our course in Dublin, led by Joe Salvatore, as they study community-engaged theatre. Back on campus, our annual Looking for Shakespeare program continues as Nan Smithner is getting ready to direct Shakespeare’s As You Like It with young people and graduate students helping through their enrollment in the course,Directing Youth Theatre.  There’s still space available for Educational Theatre students to register for this course. In just a couple of weeks, I’ll be the instructor for Teaching Through Drama, where middle school students will come once a week over a three week period to experience drama with the graduate students, one time with special guest Cecily O’Neill leading a drama workshop–and the NYU students will facilitate a drama experience for the young people in week three. There’s also an Acting: Scene Study class to consider, being taught by Amy Cordileone, as well as other summer course offerings. All of the course titles and descriptions are listed on the blog posted on May 3rd (see below), and I want to stress that it’s not too late to register for any of these classes.

What a great year! Congratulations to all who are completing their studies and receiving their degrees.  Your hard work and commitment have contributed to the successful completion of your degree requirements, and more importantly, the Program in Educational Theatre is a better place because we have talented students like you.

Have a wonderful summer everyone!

Sincerely,

David Montgomery, PhD

Director, The Program in Educational Theatre