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.




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.