Before Lowell and Nancy Swortzell created the Program in Educational Theatre in 1966, The School of Education had a rich history of drama and theatre programming. Among that history was an annual musical revue titled Blackouts, first presented in 1938. In 1940, superstar entertainer Eddie Cantor served as the technical advisor. Here he is in rehearsals with the student cast:
By Melanie Ridgway
One year ago, I noticed a similarity in my course syllabi for Intro to Theatre for Young Audiences I and Masters of Modern Drama: both courses were scheduled to read The Transition of Doodle Pequeño by Gabriel Jason Dean. If this play was considered worthy material for both a TYA course and a play about “masters,” I knew it had to be worth reading. I was right; it was love at first “bahfoogee.”
The Transition of Doodle Pequeño is a magic-filled, multiple award-winning play for all ages about two boys who become friends in spite of their differences. It’s Halloween and Doodle is the new kid in the neighborhood. Accompanied by his imaginary goat, Doodle befriends Reno, a boy who is unpopular with the neighborhood kids because he likes to wear dresses. A blend of English, Spanish and “Goat,” this comic play takes a heartwarming look at the consequences of misused language and interrogates the issue of gender-bullying.
After reading through this play the first (and second) time, I was amazed at the risks this play took, especially considering it was a play for young audiences. Gabriel Jason Dean approaches some very heavy topics, topics that even adults are afraid to talk about. Despite its heavy content, the story is still hilarious, playful and engaging. I needed to bring it to life.
Doodle has been performed in readings and workshops at universities like Northwestern and The University of Texas, but I was surprised that it had not been performed yet in New York. Thanks to the support of Lamplighters (NYU’s Theatre for Young Audience Club) and the leadership of director (and my dear friend) Kathleen Turner, The Transition of Doodle Pequeño is finally getting its New York debut! As opening morning approaches, I could not be more proud of the hard work put in by the cast and production team. It’s been a beautiful journey and when those lights come up next Saturday, one year’s worth of waiting will finally be over.
The Transition of Doodle Pequeño will be performed on November 22nd at 10 am and 1 pm and November 23rd at 2 pm. The performances will take place at 238 Thompson Street (GCASL), Room C-95. Reserve your seat at the Doodle Eventbrite Site.
(All photos by Chianan Yen)
It seems like only yesterday that I was being eaten, daily, by a carnivorous plant. While our Little Shop may have closed, the doors to reflective practices are ever wider. Thinking back, I am realizing that so much of what I have learned and experienced through my classes and extra-curricular work in this department have shaped me into the performer (/artist/educator/person) who appeared on that folding set.
Some takeaways which come to mind are:
- the use of urgency during performance from Judyie Al-Bilali/Uta Hagen’s missing object exercise in the Acting: Fundamentals class
- using improv within structure from David Montgomery’s Forum Theatre unit in the Intro to Educational Theatre class
- learning to be authentic performer from Jonathan Shmidt Chapman’s Theatre for Young Audiences class and subsequent friendship
- using presentational and physical styles of acting from all the work I have done with Nan Smithner
While these are potent examples, they are only a few which have contributed to my current artistry and I can’t wait to see how my experiences in Little Shop and other aspects of my final year as a student in the Program in Educational Theatre add to that growing list.
– Andrew Anzel (Seymour)
As a first semester graduate student, I figured there was no better way to learn about the Program in Educational Theatre than to throw myself into a departmental musical. I have never been a part of a university production where there was such a wide range of ages, backgrounds, and future plans. As an undergraduate Musical Theater major, the students in my department were all basically in the same place in our lives and had very similar career goals. Little Shop of Horrors provided a fascinating theatrical environment when both graduate and undergraduate students could work together building a show. The points of views, past production experiences and energy levels made the rehearsals and performances an incredibly colorful and rich environment and I thank whoever’s idea it was to let both the younger and older kids play together and put on a show.
– Bethany Moore (Audrey)
All Photos by Jonathan Jones
Little Shop of Horrors
Book and Lyrics by Howard Ashman
Music by Alan Menken
Based on the film by Roger Corman, Screenplay by Charles Griffith
David Montgomery, Director
Program in Educational Theatre
LOCATION: Black Box Theatre
ADMISSION: $15 General, $5 Students & Seniors
For tickets, contact NYU Box Office
ONLINE: NYU Ticket Central
BY PHONE: 212-998-4941
IN PERSON: 566 LaGuardia Place (at Washington Square South)
Friday, October 24 at 8pm
Saturday, October 25 at 8pm
Sunday, October 26 at 3pm
Thursday, October 30 at 8pm
Friday, October 31 at 8pm
Saturday, November 1 at 8pm
Sunday, November 2 at 3pm
The entire cast and crew is made up of undergraduate and graduate students in the Program in Educational Theatre at Steinhardt. The cast includes Andrew Anzul as Seymour, Bethany Moore as Audrey, Zak Ferentz as Mushnick, Katie Braun as Audrey II, Andrew Coopman as the Dentist and Rachel Gubow, Chelsea Flores and Alexandra Richardson as the street urchins.
Other cast members include Josephine Cho, Liana Costable, Kordell Draper, Emma Vissicchio, Christopher Gooley and Alexis Lounsbury.
The production will include four puppets, the pods, to showcase the man-eating plant at various stages of its growth. Josephine Cho, Kordell Draper and Christopher Gooley will serve as puppeteers.
Steinhardt doctoral student Rachel Whorton is the show’s musical director with Dr. Amy Cordileone, a teacher from the Program in Educational Theatre, choreographing.
The crew includes Elizabeth Lozado, Shayna Blecherman, Seohee “July” Bok, Sophie Rosenthal (dance captain), Ashley Miskoff (dance captain), Mark Lussier (assistant stage manager), Orianna Miles (assistant stage manager), Jamie Lerner (assistant director) and Talia Krispel (production stage manager).
And visit Playbill.com for an announcement about the show.
By Andrew M. Gaines
Last spring’s annual Forum was a spectacular three-day event, drawing renowned presenters from across the globe, newcomers to the field, administrators, researchers, and allied professionals from multiple arts modalities and disciplines.
Our theme spotlighted the Teaching Artist, a term coined by Dr. Maxine Greene during her 36-year term as Philosopher-in-Residence at Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts. On the opening night of the forum, Maxine fittingly presented our Exemplary Teaching Artist Awards to four outstanding practitioners, following a touching introduction by Dr. Philip Taylor who cited her as the inspiration for his acronym ART (action, reflection, transformation).
Sadly, our attendees had the privilege and honor of witnessing Maxine’s last public appearance that night. On May 29, only one month following the Forum, Maxine took her last breath at the age of 96. She had continued to teach until her final days as Professor Emeritus at Columbia University Teacher’s College. In her plenary address, Maxine’s precious words captured the sublime ephemerality of life, art, and education:
These creative ways to teaching cannot be always predicted or controlled. They are emergent–like our engagement with the changing life, of the golden leaves I see outside the window, with the world. It is always becoming and can never be fully captured.
Our Forum proceeded in the spirit of her noble pursuit, enthusiastically exchanging perspectives and collectively envisioning our shared future. We sought to explore such guiding questions as:
• What is the impact of the Teaching Artist, locally and globally?
• How are Teaching Artists effectively recruiting, cultivating engagement, and fostering accountability?
• How do Teaching Artists negotiate a commitment to both process and product?
In total, we featured 17 workshops and dialogues, 3 plenary panels, and introduced an alluring new format – PechaKucha – where presenters had 6 minutes to narrate 20 slides automatically forwarding every 20 seconds. Sunday morning began with and fabulous performance of Julius Caesar by Shakespeare-to-Go, NYU’s traveling Shakespeare troupe. Community Word Project sustained our momentum by hosting a teaching artist job fair that attracted hundreds of talent and dozens of agencies. Our Forum concluded at the New Victory Theater to enjoy a performance of Fluff: A Story of Lost Toys and a post-show reception, including a brief workshop facilitated by Barbara Ellmann and Ted Sod, two of our Exemplary Teaching Artists.
In sum, our Forum synergized our vibrant community and it’s memory will largely remain a testament to the life of Maxine Greene. Like Dr. Greene, our program bravely sought questions more than answers, and embraced many opportunities to sense more deeply, release the imagination, “internalize new modalities for expression” and bring ourselves into “startling relation to the world.”
By Isaiah Bent
NYU Steinhardt sent nineteen graduate students to London for three weeks; jam packed with new and exciting ways to approach theatre. We experienced theatre for children with special needs, opera for children, process drama with the brilliant Cecily O’Neill, and of course, all the Shakespeare we could handle.
It was a once in a lifetime experience. Not only did we get to see around fifteen theatrical productions, but Dr. Philip Taylor put together an all-star group of British educators for us to work with during our stay.
A new wrinkle in this year’s London program was the amazing opportunity we had to devise a theatrical experience for second graders. We guided sixty children through different “imagined worlds” we created using the new techniques we learned from our London professors.
When we were not knee deep in theatre (which was rare), we were enjoying the beauty of London. Our lodgings could not have been better, given they were in Russell Square, smack dab in the middle of London. Museums, world-class pubs, and extravagant gardens were all in walking distance. My favorite local experience was when we dined on meat pies in the building where Sweeney Todd’s barbershop once stood.
Every student should make an effort to take advantage of this truly special program. For more student stories, please check out our fabulous blog.
In recognition for innovative artistic programming and collaborative leadership highlighting the voice and talents of Steinhardt students, Uproar Theatre Corp was awarded the President’s Service Award.
Uproar Theatre Corps is a student-run Steinhardt club sponsored by the Undergraduate Student Government. Founded and led by undergraduates in the Program in Educational Theatre, Uproar is devoted to sponsoring free workshops, panels, and theatrical competitions which supplement (and complement) Steinhardt coursework. Uproar also creates opportunities for students to write, design, direct, and act, while building a community of student-practitioners. All NYU students (undergrad, masters, and doctoral) are welcome to participate in Uproar events.
By Corinna Rezzelle
Looking for Shakespeare (LFS) has been one of the most self-reflective experiences of my graduate studies thus far. Now, it is work. It is a lot of work. It’s early-mornings-with-no-coffee-and–so-much-to-do kind of work, but it is such a great experience that I would recommend every grad student in the Educational Theatre program to tackle.
This summer we did Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. How fun, right? Shipwrecks, mistaken identities, over the top-ness in general. It was glorious fun! On top of the already wacky script, we added another layer: we set everything in the early 20th century fit with a Vaudevillian flair and several classic songs. Yes. We embarked on “Twelfth Night: The Vaudevillian Musical” in only 4-weeks. How we did it? I don’t know. Looking back, I am in awe of all that we accomplished in such a short period of time. Our group (grad students and high-schoolers a like) were such a dedicated and hardworking group, we probably could have accomplished anything.
It just hit me that some of you all might not have an idea of how LFS works. So I thought I’d tell you a little bit about the process. Within the class, you get firsthand experience guiding high school students through the wonders of acting in a Shakespearian play. Like I mentioned earlier, all of this happens in a month. Within that month, you are assigned to a particular group of students, of whom you work with primarily the entire time that you are in LFS. While you work with the teens, you are able to do your own bit of directing all while learning from your fellow grad students and the key instructor. We also even had the opportunity to teach our own workshops for the students. Stage Combat, Improvisation, Musical Theatre, and Auditions were just some of the topics that we covered in our grad student led workshops.
In the session that I took, Jonathan Jones was our key professor. He was truly a great life raft, mentor, and such a wonderful professor throughout the process. He gave us grad students the support that we needed to feel confident enough to let our voices be heard when we had blocking ideas or suggestions for the students; however, he also gave us the right balance of guidance to help lead us to find new ideas and discover other methods of teaching.
Though there were many “ah ha!” moments for me during LFS, what meant the most was getting to work with other theatre educators. The summers are such a fun time at NYU because it is filled with students in the summer-only program (of which I am enrolled in). The summer-only students are a great mix of New York residents and other theatre teachers that come from all over the country. I hail from Georgia; there were several Floridians, a Michigander, and even someone from Canada! It’s so rewarding to meet other theatre teachers that “think like me”! Getting to learn different techniques, new games, and build a brand new support system of teachers that I can call friends made this summer such a great experience.
Of course, now that the summer is over and the school year has once yet begun, still I find myself going back to the huge stack of notes that I took during the LFS process and trying new techniques that I learned in my own classroom. I would not give up the LFS experience for anything in the world and would love to embark on it again!