The Man Behind the Curtain

Dr. John Newman will perform his solo play The Man Behind the Curtain on Saturday, September 23 @ 2p at the United Solo Festival on 42nd street at Theatre Row in NYC.

The main character in the play is L. Frank Baum, best known as the author of The Wizard of Oz and 13 other Oz books. The play is set on New Year’s Eve the stage of the Hudson Theatre as one of Baum’s popular theatrical productions has been abruptly cancelled because of its excessive production costs. The “Royal Historian of Oz” offers the expectant audience his own story of how he “found his way to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Before finding his calling as a writer of children’s stories, Baum struggled to make his living as an actor, director, store-owner, baseball team secretary, small-town newspaper editor, reporter, and traveling salesman. In the play, L. Frank Baum tells how each of his professions developed his abilities as a storyteller and how he transformed his dreams and nightmares into his best known story. His life intersects with American notables including author Charles Dickens, inventor Thomas Edison, and his mother-in-law, suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage.

Newman earned a PhD in Educational Theater at New York University, with concentrations in theater for young audiences and playwriting. He has been a professor of theatre at Utah Valley University and Director of the Noorda Theatre Center for Children and Youth since 2010, after teaching and directing theatre for eighteen years at Highland High School in Salt Lake City. As a playwright, Newman has created authorized stage adaptations of novels by Newbery medalists Avi, Paul Fleischman, Richard Peck, and Jean Lee Latham.

The Man Behind the Curtain was premiered during Dr. Newman’s fall 2016 residency at the Open Eye Theater in Margaretville, New York under the direction of Dr. Tania Myren. Newman has also performed the play at Utah Valley University, the Mercury Theatre in Provo, and at Chapman University in Orange County, California. He has also performed it in places where L. Frank Baum lived and wrote, including Syracuse, New York and Coronado, California. Newman will performing the play at the national conference of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education in New Orleans in August and at the United Solo Festival on 42nd Street in New York City in September.

Distinguished Program Alumnus Returns to the Playhouse This Summer

Lowell Swortzell and Laurie Brooks at The Provincetown Playhouse in the late 90s.

Laurie Brooks will be in New York for this year’s NPYA at The Provincetown, developing her new musical, Dust, with her team, Composer/Musician Paul Carrol Binkley and Director Jeff Church. Dust tells the story of Ellie, a girl who the town believes is an angel that can call rain from the skies and make crops grow again. The ravages of the Dusters that caused the death of her mother are bad enough, but  even worse, Ellie knows she’s just an ordinary girl who cannot perform miracles. The phenomenon of one brave family who stayed through the Dustbowl and the prescient topic of climate change are embedded in this story.

 

TYA 2017 Summerfest at NYU

NYU’s Educational Theatre Program is thrilled to host a special roundtable event for the New Plays for Young Audiences 20th Anniversary to explore emergent directions in writing and producing works. Panelists include Laurie Brooks, award winning TYA playwright; José Cruz Gonzales, a leading Hispanic voice in TYA; Cecily O’Neill, foremost drama in education authority; David Montgomery, Director of NYU’s program and author of Theater for Change; Kathy Krysz, archivist for ASU’s Child Drama Collection; Courtney Boddie, Director of Education/School Engagement at the New Victory Theater, and our panel will be moderated by Philip Taylor, NYU Educational Theatre professor.

The event will take place on Saturday, June 17, 2017 at New York University.

Email andrewgaines@nyu.edu to be added to our mailing list for updates.

Children Will Listen: TYA Shows Get Political

Originally Published in American Theatre

Nashville Children’s Theatre is confronting issues of gender and social repression with its production of Laurie Brooks’s Afflicted: Daughters of Salem, which runs Sept. 15-Oct. 2. Commissioned by Coterie, where it premiered in 2014, Afflicted depicts the events leading up to the Salem witch trials from the perspectives of young female accusers.

“Very little is known about the young women who made the accusations, and so it’s fascinating from an historical perspective,” says Alicia Fuss, NCT’s director of education and the production’s director. “What might have led them to make these accusations? What might have been their motive? It’s also a script that brilliantly taps into the nuances of teenage female friendship.”

Like The Nine Who DaredAfflicted also includes a forum component, calling on the audience to help determine the story’s final outcome. “The more I worked with the script, the clearer it became to me that it’s not really a post-show forum—it’s the end of the play,” says Fuss. “Without it, the play has no falling action or resolution. My hope is that it provides a springboard for more intimate conversation between the friends and families that attend the show together. I also think that we don’t spend enough time listening to young people. In the forum, the youth are directly asked to share their ideas. Suddenly the characters they’ve been listening to for an hour are turning to them for their thoughts. That’s a very powerful framework.”

Fuss also notes how the issues facing the young women in the play have moved her to rethink adult attitudes towards children.

“As an adult, this play has pushed me to think about the restrictions and influences we place on our young people today, and what the ramifications of those might be,” she says. “I think it shows the adults in the room how very capable the youth are at thinking through both the historical event and the applications to their contemporary lives.”

 

Lauren Jones, Amanda Card, Megan Murphy Chambers, Jamie Farmer, Rosemary Fossee in “Afflicted: Daughters of Salem” at Nashville Children’s Theatre.

EdD Student Receives Empire State Excellence in Teaching Program

Congratulations to incoming EdD student and ETED alum Jamie Cacciola-Price for being one of the first recipients of the Empire State Excellence in Teaching Program which recognizes teachers across New York who are successfully preparing a new generation of learners for the future. The program honors outstanding individuals who exemplify the highest standards of teaching, working to foster creativity, instill a love of learning, and inspire independent thinking and student initiative.

“New York State has thousands of excellent teachers who prepare our students for the future and help them reach their full potential,” Governor Cuomo said when he announced the award in May 2016. “This new program will recognize our most outstanding educators, while supporting their professional growth. I commend all teachers for their dedication to making a difference in the lives of students across the state.”

Each year, the Empire State Excellence in Teaching Program will recognize teachers from 10 different regions of New York, spanning from the North Country to New York City. Public school teachers are eligible to apply for recognition. Any member of the public can nominate a teacher by filling out a recommendation. Teachers who were nominated submitted an application for review by a panel which included:

  • Kevin Casey, Executive Director, School Administrators Association of NYS
  • Catalina Fortino, Vice President of the New York State United Teachers
  • Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers
  • Robert Reidy, Executive Director of the NYS Council of School Superintendents
  • Bonnie Russell, President of the NYS Parent Teacher Association
  • Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor of SUNY

Honorees received a $5,000 stipend to support their professional development interests and will also be invited to meet with university, workforce and policy leaders across the state to share their expertise and insights.

The Bystander: A Portrait of Apathy

By Suzanne Sweeney, MA ’01

My drama class is working on a play called “The Bystander: A Portrait of Apathy.” The play deals with teen harassment and bullying. The School Climate Committee,(an organization consisting of administrators, child study team, guidance counselors, student assistance counselor and teachers) asked them to produce this production to be viewed by other sending districts. It was reviewed  by my English supervisor and accepted into the drama curriculum. This play received a grant from the Educational Committee of Rumson Fair Haven for the royalties.

Regarding student resource support – the students were initially asked to refer to the school web page on School Climate. They were introduced to a HIB form, articles and videos dealing with the bullying and harassment as well a representative from the School Climate Committee addressing them on the subject as relating to our school environment. Other resources from a dramatic perspective were:March Cassady’s An Introduction to The Art of Theatre, Jonothan Neelands and Tony Goode’s Structuring Drama Work and Drama for Learning: Dorothy Heathcote’s Mantle of the Expert.

The class is producing the play by themselves – from casting, blocking, props, etc. Every day the class begins with a production meeting on the objectives. Theses objectives were provided by a teacher generated timeline. They play has 3 student directors which had to be interviewed by the production committee( in role). They had to present their qualifications to the class. Students selected an underscore to assist them with character development. The music is associated to the issue being performed. Every student shared their music during a production meeting. Students have also added drama conventions in the blocking- chanting, freeze frame, etc. This they believed “made the dramatic work more powerful- it sends a clear message.”  They felt that the narratives could be more interesting if they were also presented in a pantomime format.

Once the students felt comfortable with the dramatic piece, it was time for the Film Club to engage in the class and make decisions regarding the filming process – lights, camera action!! They held their own meetings with their advisor making decisions. Lastly, I would like to mention that during this whole process the students were maintaining a daily journal log. This log was divided into sections: Objective, Accomplishments and Personal Reflection.

Student and Alumni Updates

Jamie Lerner (BS ‘15) was nominated by Professor Jess Barbagallo to be an Open Arts Research Fellow for a weekend-long workshop exploring questions and issues surrounding the arts.

 

 

 

 

 

Emily Lesnick (ETSS) facilitated workshops on Theatre for Inclusion with teachers from the US & India at edcamps in Ahmedabad and Mumbai while in India on an educators’ trip LINEGlobal. Participants engaged in drama work and discussed how to incorporate theatre into their classrooms. Additionally, Emily co-hosts a live variety show and accompanying podcast called The Soul Glo Project. Soul Glo features established comedic voices and up-and-comers in standup, sketch, improv, music and poetry. Previous guests include SNL writers and performers, Comedy Central performers, and high school students.

 

 

 

Amos Margulies (ETED ’11) is currently teaching 11th grade English at the Community School for Social Justice and extended a residency with The Moth for the third year running. He is also one of TDF’s Open Doors teachers. Their mentor is Alex Dinelaris, who this year won an Academy Award for his movie Birdman, and his new musical On Your Feet is coming to Broadway soon. Amos was recently published in the new Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in Theater (June 2015), in which he co-wrote the addendum on teaching theater to ELLs.

 

 

 

 

Kristen Tregar (EDTC ’14) will be starting the PhD program in Drama and Theatre at University of California, San Diego this coming fall. In addition, this has been the second year of successful collaboration with Jenny MacDonald, one of the tutors from the Dublin study abroad program. Their respective students in Ireland and the US have been collaborating on devised works. In the spring, the Irish and American students came to NYU for an afternoon workshop where they had the chance to meet Nan Smithner.

Alumni Updates

Alum Christina Kosyla (MA ’11) has been hard at work assisting her second grade drama classes with their audio recording debuts! Her 28 second graders at Stuart Country Day School in Princeton, NJ, have been working on crafting clear enunciation, appropriate projection, and unique character voices. In October, her students produced two Halloween Radio Shows, capturing sound effects and working on creating a spooky environment. In late fall, Audible recording talent Virginia Bosch spoke with the girls about professional recording. As their culminating project, each class worked with a partner to record books by Eric Carle and Dr. Seuss, constructing unique voices to distinguish between characters. These fourteen titles were given to the kindergarten class to serve as a part of the media library for years to come. Christina is proud of her students and thrilled to share with them all she gained while at NYU!

 

Life After NYU: Lucky Disaster

Last year, the blog featured a number of posts from alumni writing about their experiences after graduating from the Program in Educational Theatre. The series continues this year with a post from Megan Minutillo:

Megan Minutillo is an alumni of the Educational Theater program – (ETED M.A. 2009). In October, she will be producing and directing the fourth volume of Lucky Disaster, a concert series that she created.

Lucky Disaster Volume 4 features the music and lyrics of Ryan Scott Oliver, with original monologues inspired by the selected songs written by Anna Ty Bergman, Megan Minutillo, and The Write Teacher(s).

The concert features a cast of recent graduates and current musical theater/acting students – Kerri George, Kasie Gasparini, Melissa Rose Hirsch, Blake Joseph, Angelo McDonough, T.J. Newton, Olivia Polci, Taylor Sorice, and Stephanie Turci, with special guests Gabe Violett and Jessica Vosk!

The Lucky Disaster Concert Series is conceived, produced, and directed by Megan Minutillo, and Lucky Disaster Volume 4 will feature musical direction by Nat Zegree.

Stephanie Turci and Jacob Samuels singing \”Collide\” by Drew Overcash

Additional information about the concert can be obtained by visiting: http://tickets.thecuttingroomnyc.com/event/675061-lucky-disaster-volume-4-new-york/.

Student and Alumni Updates

Current and Former Faculty and Students Sharon Counts (EDTA ’06), John Del Vecchio (EDTA ’05), Daryl Embry (BS ’05), Emily Kaczmarek (BS ’12), Blake McCarty (EDTC ’08) Jamie Roach (EDTC), Joe Salvatore and Sara Jo Wyllie (ETED ’09) have teamed up for Play/Date, an immersive and voyeuristic theatrical experience set throughout the four levels of Fat Baby, a nightclub and lounge on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. During the performance, the lines between reality and fiction are blurred, allowing guests to view and experience the “show” as it emerges in unlikely ways from unexpected directions.

Jenna Briedis (BS ’14) was hired at Empower Charter School of Crown Heights, Brooklyn as a 6th & 7th Grade ELA Teacher.

Durell Cooper (EDTC ’14) was appointed to the position of Program Manager in Educational and Community Partnerships at Lincoln Center Education. In this role, he will be responsible for leading the recruitment of new teaching artist, implementing professional development workshops, and managing the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Kenan Fellowships.”

Andrew M. Gaines (Doctoral Candidate) has been busy presenting at conferences this past spring, including  Ethical praxis: At intersection of teaching artistry and creative arts therapy. (NYU’s Forum on the Teaching Artist); The digital mirror: Video drama therapy (American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama), and this summer he will chair a symposium with David T. Montgomery, Juliana Saxton, and Ashley Forman entitled, Ethical praxis discourse: Theatre, education, therapy, and activism (American Alliance for Theatre and Education).

Christopher Goslin (EDTC ’10) is going into his second year as the Technical Director and Instructor of Theatre at Florida International University’s Theatre Department in Miami, FL. Previously, he was the Technical Director and Instructor at Miami Dade College in Miami, FL.

Christina Neubrand (EDTC ’06) After four years as the Arts Integration Specialist with Counseling in Schools, Christina recently became the Arts & Leadership Program Manager for The CityKids Foundation.

Donna Kelly Romero (EDTC ’06) received the “To Fill the World with Love” Award from Upper Darby Summer Stage, one of the nation’s oldest and most successful youth theater programs, for “living and teaching the Summer Stage Magic.”  Donna has taught acting and storytelling there since 2007. She currently teaches drama and runs the theater program at Friends Select, a Quaker K-12 school in Philadelphia, and serves as a mentor for the Greater Philadelphia Cappies.

John Shorter (EDTH ’93) is very excited to report that his prop rental business is continuing to grow. This January, he moved into his own warehouse space in Ronkonkoma, on Long Island. His company, Prop Rentals NY worked with over 100 schools across the country this school year on props for their shows. Recently, the company expanded to create themed props for weddings, parties and other events.

Sara Simons (Ph.D. ’13) was accepted to participate in an NEH Summer Seminar/Institute, Finding Mississippi in the National Civil Rights Narrative: Struggle, Institution Building, and Power at the Local Level where she will study the civil rights movement with other scholars from around the country.