NYU Forum on Citizenship and Applied Theatre -  Presenters and Guests

Events and Conferences

NYU Forum on Citizenship and Applied Theatre - Presenters and Guests

Opening Remarks


Michael Rohd
Founding artistic director of Sojourn Theatre in Portland,Oregon, he is a 2005 recipient of Americans for the Arts' Animating Democracy Exemplar Award. His work there as creator/director/performer includes BUILT (presented as part of Portland's TBA 2008 Festival) GOOD (2008 Portland Drammy, Outstanding Production of the Season) The War Project (2005 Drammy, Best ensemble) 7 Great Loves (five 2003 Drammy awards including Best Production and Best Director), and Witness Our Schools (9 months of Oregon and national touring). Rohd is a recipient of Theatre Communication Group's 2001 New Generations Grant, and their 2002 Extended Collaboration Grant with Atlanta's Alliance Theatre. An associate artist with Cornerstone Theater Company in Los Angeles and an artistic associate with Ping Chong & Co in New York City, he is on faculty at Northwestern University's Theater Department with a focus on Devising Performance, Directing & Civic Engagement. His work has been supported by Ford Foundation, the NEA, Rockefeller's MAP Fund, Doris Duke Foundation and Arts Councils in states around the nation. Current projects include creating Oregon Shakespeare Festival's first company devised, site-specific work, a new Sojourn piece called On The Table and a commission at Kansas City Rep. He is author of the book Theatre for Community, Conflict, and Dialogue.


Daniel Banks
Daniel Banks, Ph.D.,is a theatre director, choreographer, educator, and dialogue facilitator. He has worked extensively in the U.S. and abroad, having directed at such notable venues as the National Theatre of Uganda (Kampala), the Belarussian National Drama Theatre (Minsk), The Market Theatre (Johannesburg, South Africa), the Hip Hop Theatre Festival (New York and Washington, D.C.), the Oval House (London), and served as choreographer/movement director for productions at New York Shakespeare Festival/Shakespeare in the Park, Singapore Repertory Theatre, La Monnaie/De Munt (Brussels), Landestheater (Saltzburg), Aaron Davis Hall (Harlem), and for Maurice Sendak/The Night Kitchen. Daniel has served on the faculties of the Department of Undergraduate Drama, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University and the MFA in Contemporary Performance at Naropa University and is the founder and director of the Hip Hop Theatre Initiative that uses Hip Hop Theatre as a tool for youth empowerment and leadership training. HHTI has worked on campuses and in communities across the U.S. and in Ghana, South Africa, Hungary, and Mexico. Currently, he is a Visiting Scholar in the Africana Studies Program/Department of Social and Critical Analysis at and is a long-time adviser in the Gallatin School for Individualized Studies, both at NYU.  Daniel is a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts/Theatre Communications Group Career Development Program for Directors. He holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from NYU.

Kayhan Irani

Kayhan Irani is an "artivist" dedicated to using theater to activate audiences and transform society. Whether it is through writing and performing, or facilitating participatory theater, Kayhan works to support creative engagement in democracy and radical social change. Her one-woman show entitled We've Come Undone (2003) highlights the lives and struggles of South Asian and Arab immigrants post 9/11. The show toured internationally, from Lahore, Pakistan to Brunswick, Maine. In 2004 Kayhan had the opportunity to lead theater workshops in occupied Iraq, with Childhood's Voices and Happy Families; two organizations teaching and healing children through the arts. In 2007, Kayhan was commissioned by the American Society for Muslim Advancement to create a piece about women's struggles for equity within the Islamic faith.In 2008 she was approached by the New York City Mayor's Office of Adult Education to write a new TV show for immigrant New Yorkers called, We Are New York. The 9-episode series teaches English through serio-comic stories about immigrant life in New York. She was awarded a NY Emmy for Best Writing for a TV Program, and the series received 4 NY Emmy nominations. In 2007 she was awarded a certificate of recognition by Mayor Bloomberg, as part of Immigrant History Week, for her arts work in immigrant communities. She co-edited a book titled, Telling Stories to Change the World: Global Voices on the Power of Narrative to Build Community and Make Social Justice Claims" (Routledge, 2008). 

Adam McKinney

Co-Director of DNAWORKS, Adam McKinney is a classically trained dancer and former member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Béjart Ballet Lausanne, and Alonzo King's LINES Ballet. In 2006, Adam served as a US Embassy Culture Connect Envoy to South Africa taught master dance classes in the U.S., Hungary, Indonesia, England, Ghana, South Africa, and Israel and has organized programs on social justice and the Arts with a long list of organizational partners, including Ghana's National School for the Deaf, Ghana State Mental Hospital, City Ballet Theater, and Agulhas Theatre Works, a mixed abilities contemporary dance company in South Africa. Adam's awards include a 2009 U.S. Embassy in Budapest grant, a 2009 Trust for Mutual Understanding grant, a 2008 Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant and Gallatin (NYU) Jewish Arts grant for work with Ethiopian communities in Israel, a 2006 U.S. Embassy in Ghana grant, and the Bronfman Jewish Artist Fellowship for his genealogical dance and film work "HaMapah/�"מפ�"." His choreographed works have been performed in Indonesia and South Africa, and together with Banks, will create a dance work for Beta Dance Troupe, an Ethiopian-Israeli dance company in Haifa, Israel. Named one of the most influential African-Americans in Milwaukee by St. Vincent DePaul in 2000, Adam currently leads youth programming for the Jewish Multiracial Network's retreats, sits on the board of United with In Motion, and is an 2010 M.A. Candidate at New York University.

Plenary Speakers      

Arin Arbus

Arin Arbus is the Associate Artistic Director at Theatre for a New Audience for whom she directed MEASURE FOR MEASURE and OTHELLO (Lortel Nomination). She was a 2008 Princess Grace Award Recipient, a member of Soho Rep's Writer/Director Lab, a Playwrights Horizons Directing Resident, a Williamstown Workshop Directing Corps Member and is a Drama League Directing Fellow.  She has directed for The Intiman Theater, Hangar Theatre, Theatre Outlet, FringeNYC, Storm Theatre, HERE Arts Center, Juilliard and Williamstown Workshop.  In association with Rehabilitation through the Arts, Arbus also leads a theatre group of inmates at Woodbourne Correctional Facility - a medium security prison in upstate New York.

Javier Cardona
Javier Cardona is a performing artist and educator originally from Puerto Rico, who began his performing and arts and education career with Los Teatreros Ambulantes de Cayey, directed by Rosa Luisa Márquez and the visual artist Antonio Martorell. He has studied and worked with contemporary theater and dance masters such as Peter Schumann, Bread and Puppet Theater; Osvaldo Dragún, Escuela Internacional de Teatro de América Latina y el Caribe; Augusto Boal, Theater of the Oppressed; Miguel Rubio, Yuyachkani; Viveca Vázquez, Taller de Otra Cosa; Sally Silvers and Jennifer Monson, Birdbrain.His own artistic work, which is primarily concerned with issues of race, gender and identity, has been presented throughout the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States. Javier‘s performative artwork forms part of the collection of the Hemispheric Institute Digital Video Library, based in New York City. Experienced in the use of the arts as an aesthetic form and a dialogical medium for human reflection and social action, Javier currently works as the Arts & Education Director for Rehabilitation Through the Arts, a non-governmental arts in education initiative inside New York State prisons. In addition, he works in The New Victory Theater's education department as a teaching-artist. Javier holds a Masters in Educational Theater from New York University.


Michael Coaxum
Michael Coaxum is the project coordinator for Changing through the Arts in Yonkers, N.Y. The program provides a voice and stage for inner-city youth to cope with the circumstances of their lives through theatre. Theatre allows today's youth to converse with their souls and make a change in their lives for the betterment of self and community. Michael's participation in Rehabilitation through the Arts at Woodbourne Correctional Facility changed his life and he thanks Dr. Philip Taylor and his wonderful staff for giving him the tools he needed to help himself and others through theatre. 


Margarita Espada

Margarita Espada has traveled the world in her careers as a Puerto Rican artist, educator and cultural organizer, training in physical approaches to theatre practice. She has worked as a professional artist in many countries including, Paris, Brazil, Denmark, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, and New York. Ms. Espada is the Founder and Executive-Artistic Director of Teatro Yerbabruja, an organization based in Puerto Rico and in Long Island, that uses the arts as a tool for social change. She is a member of the International School for Latin-American and Caribbean Theater of UNESCO, and the National Association for Latino Arts & Culture. Espada has a Masters degree in Fine Art in Dramaturge from Stony Brook University. She has served on many different boards of directors and panels, including the Islip Arts Council, the Community Arts Advisory Board for the Suffolk County Legislature, and NYSCA. Margarita is also a New York State-certified teacher, and has received multiple awards and proclamations for her leadership and community work, including: 2006 "Woman of the Year" Award for her contributions in the arts on Long Island, from the Latin American Chamber of Commerce & Industry of New York; and awards from the Town of Islip, the Town of Hempstead, the Office of Suffolk County Legislator Ricardo Montano, the Office of New York State Assemblyman Phil Ramos, and the Office of New York state Senator Bryan X Foley. As a community organizer she uses the arts to promote social changes in underserved communities. Her use of the arts as tools to promote civic dialog among the diverse communities in Long Island has gained her the respect of community leaders and grassroots organizations alike. Her work has also been featured by Newsday, the New York Times, and the Associated Press. 


Julia B. Rosenblatt
Julia B. Rosenblatt, Co-Founding Artistic Director of HartBeat Ensemble, graduated from University of California Los Angeles School of Theater, Film and Television in 1997.  In addition to studying acting, Julia studied Augusto Boal's Theater of the Oppressed (TO).  She has subsequently taught and directed TO projects throughout the United States, Nicaragua and Mexico. From 1997 to 2001, Ms. Rosenblatt worked with the San Francisco Mime Troupe as an actor, teacher, production manager and stage manager.  During this time she also performed with The New Conservatory Theater, Traveling Lantern Theater Company, Pagliacci's Fools Radio Project and at the John Simms Performing Arts Center.  In September of 2001, Ms. Rosenblatt moved back to her hometown of Hartford, CT to co-found HartBeat Ensemble.  While with HartBeat, she has co-written and performed in Graves, News To Me, CNA Is The Soul, Rich Clown, Poor Clown, Beggar Clown. Thief, Ebeneeza – A Hartford Holiday Carol, The Pueblo, and Plays In The Parks 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.  Ms. Rosenblatt received the 2009 New Boston Fund Individual Artist Award.


Joe Salvatore
Joe Salvatore teaches courses in acting, directing, Shakespeare, new play development, applied theatre, and theatre pedagogy in the Program in Educational Theatre. He also directs the program's Shakespeare Initiative, which includes the touring Shakespeare to Go company, the Shakespeare Youth Ensemble, and the Looking for Shakespeare summer youth program.  Past directing projects for NYU include The Class Project, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, As You Like It, Polaroid Stories, Cartographic Musings, Measure for Measure, Richard II, transfigured, Romeo and Juliet, Pericles, and 5 X Wilder: Plays from the Seven Deadly Sins Cycle by Thornton Wilder. Joe serves as the Artistic/Education Director for Learning Stages, an award-winning youth theatre company
in southern New Jersey celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2010.  He also consults for YoungArts, the signature program of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts.  Joe's recent writing projects include an interview theatre piece about gay male couples living in open relationships and a chapter on teaching Shakespeare for The International Handbook of English, Language and Literacy Teaching (Routledge, 2010).  His play III will be published in The Best American Short Plays 2008-2009 (Applause, 2010). MFA in Theater (Dramaturgy/Directing), University of Massachusetts at Amherst; BA in History, University of Delaware; Member, Lincoln Center Directors Lab.

Nancy Smithner
Nancy Smithner, Ph.D., director and performer, is a faculty member in the Program in Educational Theatre where she teaches Physical Theatre, Acting, Directing and Pedagogy. She has taught a many other venues such as Playwrights Horizons, Circle in the Square Theatre School, Movement Research, the New York Dance Intensive, the Berkshire Theatre Festival, and Soongsil University in Seoul, Korea.  For the Program she has directed Sonia Flew (Lopez), Love’s Labours Lost, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare) The Eumenides  (Aeschylus), Mad Forest (Churchill), (m)BODY (devised work), The Imaginary Invalid (Moliere), The Memorandum (Havel), Voices of Women (original works), and The Odyssey (Homer). An applied theatre practitioner, she teaches in prisons and is also member of the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit, performing for children in pediatric settings.

Anthony Thompson
Anthony Thompson is a Professor of Clinical Law at New York University School of Law and was just announced as one of NYU's recipients of the 2009-2010 Distingued Teaching Award. As a graduate of Harvard Law School, Professor Thompson focused much of the research in his career on issues involveing Community Justice, Community Prosecution/Defense, Criminal Law, Offender Reentry, Problem-Solving Courts, and Race and Public Policy. His publications inc lude: Releasing Prisoners/Redeeming Communities: Reentry, Race and Politics (NYU Pres s, 2008),"Offender Reentry and the Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions: An Introduction," 30 NYU Rev. L. & Soc. Change 585 (2006) (with Michael Pinard), and his newest forthcoming publication is to be entitled, "What Happens Behind Locked Doors: The Difficulty of Addressing and Eliminating Rape in Prison," New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinemen. In 2007 Professor Thompson was awarded the Podell Distinguished Teaching Award by NYU School of Law. Prior to his appointment to the NYU faculty he was in private practicein Richmond, California where he handled criminal, civil, andentertainment matters. Before opening his own practice, Thompson servedfor nine years as a Deputy Public Defender in Contra Costa CountyCalifornia. While there, he represented adults charged with criminalmatters and juveniles charged as delinquents. He also brought a majorimpact action which forced the county to provide confidential interviewrooms for detained juveniles. In his recent book published by NYU Press "Releasing Prisoners,Redeeming Communities," he takes an in-depth look at the issues of Reentry, Race and Politics. He analyzes the media's involvement inshaping public policy as well as the role that race plays in reentry.

Helen White
Helen White co-wrote the proposal for the new MA in Applied Theatre at the City University of New York and is a key faculty member. She is the award-winning director of the CAT Youth Theatre at the Creative Arts Team. Under her direction, the Youth Theatre has performed at the United Nations, International Festivals, and International and National conferences, working with other youth theatres from Taiwan, Germany, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Zambia, India, Palestine, Nepal, Turkey, Brazil, and Poland.  She has worked for over twenty-five years as a director, actor and workshop leader, creating theatre with and for young people and a variety of adult communities in both professional theatre and educational contexts. She was the Executive and Artistic Director of the New Perspectives Theatre Company, the professional touring company for the East Midlands region in England for six years. Her shows have been seen in England, Denmark, Lithuania, New York and Hawai'i. She has commissioned and developed many new plays with writers, including Bryony Lavery, and Nick Stafford, and specializes in devising original theatre. 

Closing Remarks

Julian Boal
Julian Boal is a freelance workshop leader. He has led workshops, either alone or as Augusto Boal's assistant, in more than 25 countries. He is one of the founding members of GTO-Paris, groups that works principally on the oppressions due to the relationship between bosses and workers. He is also the author of Images of a Popular Theatre.




Special Guests

Lawrence Bogad

Lawrence Bogad (www.lmbogad.com; Associate Professor, University of California at Davis) is an author, performer, and activist. His book, Electoral Guerrilla Theatre: Radical Ridicule and Social Movements, is an international study of performance artists who run for public office as a prank. Bogad works on the intersection between art and activism, and on the role of humor and imagination in organizing social movements. He writes, performs, and strategizes with guerrilla theatre groups such as the Yes Men.

Bogad has led Tactical Performance workshops as "Humanities and Political Conflict" Fellow at Arizona State University and at Carnegie Mellon University both as an "Art and Controversy" Fellow, and as a Distinguished Lecturer on Performance and Politics. His performances have explored topics such as the Haymarket Square Confrontation, the FBI's COINTELPRO activities, the Pinochet coup in Chile, and global climate chaos. His play, COINTELSHOW: A Patriot Act, will be published in 2010 by PM Press.

Parasuram Ramamoorthi

Parasuram Ramamoorthi ( 1949) a poet/playwright and applied drama practitioner , recently retired from Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, India, has worked with prisoners, people in mental health homes, old age homes. The current focus of his work is on Theatre for Autism and his Mask for Autism, is widely used in many countries including USA, UK, Germany and India. Recipient of the Grozdanin Kikot award ( 2008) and Leverhulme visiting Professor at the University of East Anglia, Norwich(2003). He is currently Chairman of VELVI a trust for promoting Indian Arts and Culture and Vice-chair of International Association of theatre for Autism. For more information please log on to http://www.velvi.org/ and http://www.autismtheatre.org/.


Professor Kumagai Yasuhiro
Professor Kumagai Yaushiro in an Associate Professor of Theatre at Nihon University College of Art, Tokyo. Besides his work in theatre and perofrmance art as actor, director, and producer since 1980s, he has working on various Applied Theatre projects since mid-1990s. His theatre works' settings vary from theatres, to nursery schools, clinics, and festivals in Japan, to the streets in Africa. He has worked with various populations including, people with physical and mental disabilities, immigrants, school truants, and elders, as well as actors. His latest projects are Applied Theatre in a theatre with actors in Tokyo, and a production of Brecht's "The Baden-Baden Lesson on Consent" at local museums in Japan. Also he launched an Applied Theatre minor, the first in Japan, in Nihon University in late 1990s.



Dr. Edie Damas
Dr. Edie Demas, Director of Education, New Victory Theater, has been responsible for the direction, development, and implementation of the theater's school, career and family educational programming since 2001. In 2008, these programs were honored nationally by Americans for the Arts. As part of her work, Edie has advised the New York City Department of Education's Office of Arts and Special Programs on the Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts and on Professional Development projects. Her teaching experience, which focuses on performing arts education, theater for young audiences, teaching artistry and media education, extends from nursery school to the university level.   She is an Adjunct Professor at NYU where she is distinguished for her graduate courses: Theatre for Young Audiences I & II, The Teaching Artist, and Theatre in Education. Prior to 2001, Edie worked in Ireland as Education Officer, Graffiti Theatre Co. Cork; as founder of UnReel , an international festival devoted to film and television for young people and as an Associate Artist for Education and Outreach at the Abbey, Ireland's National Theatre. Currently, Edie serves as the Vice Chair of the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable. You can follow her on twitter - @ediedemas. Or find out more about the New Victory's work at www.newvictory.org or on Facebook.

Dr. Christina Marín

Dr. Christina Marín is an Assistant Professor at New York University in the Program in Educational Theatre where she teaches courses in Applied Theatre, Theatre of the Oppressed, Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, and Diversity. Her research interests include the employment of theatre pedagogy in Human Rights Education and examining Theatre of the Oppressed techniques as arts-based research methodology. She has presented Latino Theatre for Social Change workshops at the National USHLI Conferences for the past 5 years in Chicago. She has also conducted workshops in Colombia, Ecuador, South Africa, Ireland, Singapore, and Mexico. Her professional theatre directing experiences include the award winning productions of José Casas' play 14, and Rubén Amavizca's Las Mujeres de Juárez.  She is currently directing the staged reading of Humberto Robles' text Mujeres de Arena for various conference and educational venues.

Dr. David Montgomery
As a teacher for the Program in Educational Theatre, Dr. David Montgomery is a specialist in drama education, theatre for young audiences, integrated arts, and student teaching.  His research interests include drama pedagogy, process drama, arts partnerships, teacher education and directing.  David was a professional actor before becoming a full time middle school teacher in Brooklyn, New York. He also worked as a k-12 drama specialist for Project Arts in Queens, New York, and the Educational Arts Team in Jersey City, New Jersey.  David's study, Living an Arts Partnership: The Experience of Three Middle School Classroom Teachers in a Drama Residency, won the NYU Steinhardt Outstanding Dissertation Award in 2007, as well as the Distinguished Dissertation Honorable Mention Award from the American Alliance for Theatre Education (AATE)in 2008. He helped start and currently advises the program's graduate degree in Teaching Theatre and Social Studies (ETSS), and is currently collaborating with New York City Social Studies Teachers on developing drama-infused curricula to be documented in a book, Teaching American History, edited by Dr. Robert Cohen and Dr. Diana Turk.  David is the artistic director for the New Plays for Young Audience Series at NYU, which is dedicated to developing new plays for young people every summer.  David has directed theatre productions for the program as well, including Folktale Journey: Old Stories Told in New Ways, Stories From the Magic Lake, Kindertransport, and The Giver.  

Dr. Philip Taylor
Dr. Philip Taylor (Associate Professor) B.Ed. 1980, Rusden State College (Australia); MA 1988, Ph.D. 1992, New York University; has been Director of the Program in Educational Theatre since 2003.  His research interests are in the fields of applied theatre and process drama, qualitative research, reflective praxis and educational inquiry. His book Applied Theatre: Creating Transformative Encounters in the Community describes how theatre can empower individuals and communities to effect change. Dr. Taylor established the International Institute in Drama in Education Research Institute (IDIERI) which has met in Australia, Canada, England, Jamaica, and the United States. His book Researching Drama and Arts Education: Paradigms and Possibilities (Falmer) has been a standard text on research design used by many graduate students worldwide. Other publications include Assessment in Arts Education (Heinemann), Structure and Spontaneity (Trentham Books), Redcoats and Patriots: Reflective Practice in Drama and Social Studies (Heinemann) and The Drama Classroom: Action, Reflection, Transformation (RoutledgeFalmer). At NYU he established a new scholarly periodical, Arts Praxis, and is excited by his forthcoming book Theatre behind Bars: can the arts rehabilitate? Directing credits for NYU include the brechtbeckett workshop (Black Box), The Caucasian Chalk Circle (Provincetown Playhouse), Ah-Ssess (Frederick Loewe Theatre, and IDIERI in England), Tears of the Mind (prison theatre project upstate New York), Beautiful Menaced Child (NYU Forum on Ethnotheatre/Theatre for Social Justice), and Gross Indecency: The three trials of Oscar Wilde (Provincetown).