Applied Theatre 2: Engaging Communities with Transformative Theatre

By: Ashley Hamilton and Clare Hammoor

Professor Taylor’s Applied Theatre II class was assigned the mission of exploring the field of transformative theatre through several different projects this semester. Each student in the class was asked to choose a site and a population that they could work with. They were given a number of tools and techniques to apply the theoretical concepts discussed in class within their communities. The sites ranged included: classrooms, religious spaces, alternative learning centers, traditional theatrical stages and more. Each project worked with a unique population within the site. The populations included: grade school children learning about kindness, women being interviewed on body image, suspended middle schoolers, actors seeking development, and more. Here are a few snippets from these experiences.

Dana and Hoyeung: Theatre of the Oppressed Workshops

We led weekly Theatre of the Oppressed workshops with nine actors who have an interest in social justice. After the 6 sessions had taken place, a forum theatre performance happened on April 28th. Our goal was to expose the actors to TO work and pass along some knowledge about it so that they can use it in their future work. Our performance goal is to expose a systemic issue and create dialogue about possible solutions and what we can do as a community. A brief video of part of a session can be viewed here:

Ashley, Nikki, and Nicole: DISORDERED

Ashley interviewed 25 different women on their experiences with body image and the American media. The data was then transcribed and assembled into a script. A play reading was held on April 25th with four actresses. There was an inner- active component of the reading in which the audience participated in answering the question: “my body is…”. Their answers were then transplanted into the script reading. After the reading, there was a talkback with a member of the NYU Health and Wellness Eating Disorder team and the audience was asked to fill out a response to the reading with their questions and thoughts. The intention behind this piece was to both raise awareness around female body image in America and also report on the experience on being a researcher pursuing interview- based theatre. Ashley also performed a part of the piece at the -ISM Project Showcase hosted by NYU’s CMEP on April 23rd.

Interested students should take Professor Philip Taylor’s Fall course, Applied Theatre 1, for an introduction to this work. The course will take place on Tuesdays from 4:55pm to 6:35pm for 3 credits. The course number is: MPAET-GE 2101-001.

Applied Theatre: Sanctuary for Homeless LGBTQQI Youth

By: Jamie Cacciola-Price

Sanctuary, an ethnodrama in one act is based on the stories and writings of LGBTQQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Intersex) homeless youth that live at a local shelter. For the past two years I have conducted interviews with the youth, as well as facilitated writing workshops where they wrote journals, poetry, and letters. The piece explores topics ranging from lack of employment, prostitution, discrimination, sexual abuse, HIV, love, skinny jeans, Little Debbie’s and Beyoncé. I was drawn to tell these stories because of the growing epidemic of homeless queer youth in New York City, particularly among transgender and intersex youth of color. During the script development stage I was influenced by the vividness and graphic nature of the youth’s writings and chose to showcase their stories through a combination of flashback/frozen action sequences scattered within a linear story structure that follows the youth over a period of three days in June of 2012. Further aiding my process was Stephen DiMenna’s playwriting class, where I was able to try different approaches to the storytelling to see what was affective. Sanctuary is important because it raises awareness and provides a voice to a population that so desperately needs to be heard. The rich talk back and discussion following the premiere reading on April 27 at NYU illustrated to me that this play has the potential to change hearts and minds, and should a production ever come to fruition it will be because of the mentorship and guidance of the many great professors, researchers and artists that I’ve had the privilege to work within the Program in Educational Theatre.

Summer Courses

While the spring term draws to a close, it is not too late to make plans for summer courses. Below, you will find course descriptions for available summer courses in Educational Theatre. If you are interested in enrolling in a course, be sure and schedule an appointment with your academic advisor soon!

Acting: Scene Study

In this course students will continue the exploration begun in Acting: Fundamentals with in-depth scene & monologue preparation from the contemporary stage. Studio work will focus on the given circumstances, creating a physical life for the character, & miming the relationships that drive the play.

Storytelling in the Classroom

Storytelling dynamically engages us in the act of learning. This highly participatory class explores storytelling as an art form and as a tool in the classroom and community. Students explore its historical context, educational use and significance, performance techniques, and types of tellable tales.

Methods and Materials of Research in Educational Theatre

This class will explore the diverse research designs available for investigation in Educational Theatre. An examination of how to construct a research and grant proposal, as well as data collection and analysis techniques, and the various forms of representing data including performed ethnography. A required course in the MA programs.

Theatre Practices: Problems in Play Production

This course examines how artists work with new plays in a development process. The course addresses theories and methods of play development including script analysis, rehearsal, and performance of works-in-progress. Students have opportunities to observe rehearsals, attend performances, and dialogue with playwrights, directors, and dramaturgs associated with the New Plays for Young Audiences series at the Provincetown Playhouse.

Drama in Education II

Study contemporary applications of drama in community sites. Topics include community-engaged drama, participatory theatre, theatre for seniors, and prison theatre.

Teaching Through Drama

This course provides an essential foundation upon which to build a drama-in-education practice. It introduces students to many drama-in-education strategies; critiques the educational rationale which supports them; & analyzes the process of structuring drama work as a medium for learning across the curriculum & beyond. Students will become critically acquainted with the pedagogical principles which delineate the teaching terrain of the drama-in-education practitioner.

Drama with Special Ed Populations

Examines the practices and theories of educational theatre as they apply to working with elementary and secondary students with special needs. At its core, this class is about good teaching. Any professional teaching in today’s schools will work with a child with a disability. Differentiated instruction is not about teaching a class, but rather teaching a student. This hands-on course will isolate specific drama approaches and techniques and adapt them for the physically, cognitively, or emotionally challenged student.

Directing Youth Theatre: Looking for Shakespeare

High school students work with a director and graduate students from NYU to shape an original production of Shakespeare. This program is unique in that the ensemble members will work with director, Nan Smithner, and a dramaturg to discover how a Shakespearean play resonates for them, within their own personal experiences. Using these connections as a source and inspiration, the ensemble members will rehearse and perform their own version of the play. The production will be supported by designers and stage managers.

Independent Study / Practicum

Under faculty mentorship, students craft their own research project in one of the program’s four concentration areas: drama education, applied theatre, theatre for young audiences, and theatre production.

Students Finding Their Voice

By Emma Price

The greatest gift in my graduate experience pursuing a dual degree in Educational Theater and Social Studies was the opportunity to trouble shoot and to teach. Sharing resources, experimenting with new concepts and having the opportunity to practice and make mistakes helped me to become a much better teacher. Because we had so many opportunities to teach, especially in our educational theater classes, I felt far more prepared to step into the role of student teacher.

These opportunities informed my teaching by helping me to find the flaws and holes in my lessons. Additionally, this practice made me more comfortable making mistakes with my students, because these are always moments in which I learn the most. By noticing where the lesson comes undone, I then know how to not make that mistake the following time. For example, in the first lesson that I taught with my fourth graders as a student teacher at PS 3, I dropped magic markers and poster paper in the middle of my students’ tables and said, “Write everything you know about Christopher Columbus.” I gave no clear directions, no sense of what these posters should look like, or how to use the markers. Therefore, this was a material nightmare! I realized immediately that figuring out how materials will be utilized over the course of a lesson is always something that I must figure out first in order to enhance the learning of my students.

Most of all, my experience in the Educational Theater program gave me encouragement and confidence, as well as a rationale as to why theater in the classroom is so important and useful. I left the NYU with not only a passion for teaching, but a resounding belief that theater makes material accessible to students in an entirely different and more transformative way, all the while encouraging community building and opportunities for students to express themselves, be heard, and hear their peers. In the classroom, this means that I try to give students as much of an opportunity to share as possible. This often means writing in role as a way to develop empathy with historical characters or contexts, and then having the students share their written work with their peers. I conducted two process dramas with my seventh graders throughout our slavery unit, as well as a mock trial. These dramas helped us understand the Underground Railroad more deeply, as well as how perspective plays a role in how people are judged (in relation to John Brown and Harper’s Ferry). While teaching fourth grade, I was challenged to find ways to teach about concepts surrounding social justice through theatrical devices. Once I was able to conceptualize what I wanted students to understand, I found the theatrical vehicles that would take us there. Throughout my time at PS 3 we wrote petitions, staged sit ins, created tableaus to communicate our ideas about injustices perpetrated against American Indians, and wrote boycott plays in order to help my students explore how to stand up for their rights.

Students greatly enjoyed this type of learning, and I believe it gave them more ownership over the material. In letters that students wrote to me at the end of both semesters, they most often mentioned the dramatic activities that we had done together. This demonstrated to me that the students found these learning experiences deeply meaningful, and it is my hope that those moments of learning will remain with them throughout the rest of their academic careers. I see education as a means of attaining social justice, and as a means of rectifying the injustices in our education system today. Through theater, students find their voices, and wrap their minds around abstract ideas as they express their understanding through their bodies. Therefore, the use of theater in the classroom serves as a tool to move the work of social justice forward in a beautiful way.


Given the growing student and applicant interest in a program combining social studies certification with theatre certification, NYU Steinhardt offers an innovative dual certification program, whose curriculum is built on the school’s already registered programs in Educational Theatre, All Grades, and Teaching Social Studies, 7-12.

For additional information about the program, visit:


Forum: Developing New Work for the Theatre

Developing New Work for the Theatre
Friday, April 26 & Saturday, April 27

The Program in Educational Theatre is a community of diverse artists, educators, and audiences with a commitment to creating and participating in engaging theatrical experiences, not necessarily in traditional spaces or by traditional measures, but through consistent investigation of artistic processes and aesthetics. The development of original work has been central to the Program’s mission since its inception, and this forum proposes to generate new knowledge within the field as we address the following questions:

1. How do artists establish rigorous, intentional new works development processes
that are innovative and sustainable? 

2. How does accountability serve the stakeholders in a new works development

3. How do we define and measure success in a new works development process?

Schedule of Events 

Register for the Forum here.

Location: 35 West 4th Street, New York NY 10012 (Frederick Loewe Theatre and Education Building)


New Plays; New Worlds

By Rachel Whorton

On an average summer day around an average conference table, three actors read an exceptional, though unfinished, script about an average boy named Zachary Briddling. The play, Zachary Briddling Who Was Awfully Middling by Finegan Kruckemeyer, was one of three plays selected for the New Plays for Young Audiences series in the historic Provincetown Playhouse.











The actors, including myself, were undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students from NYU and beyond. Over the course of one week, director Emilie Fitzgibbon of Ireland’s Graffiti Theater helped us create a world derived from Zachary’s crayon drawings. Giants, storytellers, roller skating squirrel-monkeys and girls covered entirely in hair were all characters from Zachary Briddling’s imagination; and it was up to just 2 actors to make the full cast of characters come to life around the third actor, Zachary himself. So my fellow actors and I engaged in some exploration of voice quality, pitch, volume, body posture, attitude and gesture as we tried to create at least 8 different characters…each.

As new pages came in during the development process, new characters appeared and disappeared, changed and mutated, combined and emerged more dynamic than before. Even after audiences entered the equation, the playwright and the director encouraged us to keep exploring and creating because the ultimate goal of New Plays for Young Audiences is to help the playwright develop his or her script.

Scripts in development are my favorite type of work because they are never confined to the notion of what has been, but are always looking forward to the possibility of what could be. The collaborative nature of the New Plays for Young Audiences rehearsal process made the experience anything but average.


New Plays for Young Audiences is an annual summer play development series located in the historic Provincetown Playhouse. Founded in 1998 by Lowell and Nancy Swortzell, NYU’s prize-winning New Plays for Young Audiences has developed over thirty new plays written by leading playwrights for young audiences and families including Carl Miller, Y York, Laurie Brooks, Suzan Zeder, Bryony Lavery, Lois Lowry, Angela Betzien, and José Cruz González. These plays go on to receive publication and production throughout the world.

For additional information about the program, visit:

On Writing Anagram: The Musical

By Micaela Blei

When I was in 7th grade, I was on the JV Spelling Team, and my crush was Varsity. I pined while I spelled. When I heard about musicals in Theatrix, I thought: great fiction comes from life, right? So I proposed a fast-paced love story, set in the corrupt world of middle school competitive spelling.

I met with Rachel Whorton, Theatrix curator, who gave me great advice about story structure. I spoke to my composer, Ynvgil Guttu, on the phone, about tone and style– she lives in Alaska, so our collaboration was by phone. And I got to writing.

Writing short form is rewarding– as in writing formal poetry, or a 350-word blog post for the Ed Theatre blog, every detail has to be important.

Once I had a draft and ideas for three songs, I wrote lyrics, sent them to Yngvil and
received back piano sketches of the tunes. This was an amazing moment– it’s so cool when someone has taken what you wrote and made it sound beautiful! We talked several times, refining things, and I put my script through a brutal doctoring process. (It was WAY TOO COMPLICATED for a 15 minute musical, in its first drafts.)

Theatrix hosted a fantastic workshop day, when all the directors, playwrights and composers got together for a reading of the scripts. This was nerve wracking! We got feedback from classmates which helped refine our next drafts.

Soon after that, it was time for the first read-through with the cast. Yngvil handed out music, the cast read the script, and from there it belonged to them.

I didn’t see it until opening night. It was incredible to see how much work the cast, composer and director had put into the production. This was the first musical I wrote, and also (of course) the first one I’ve seen performed. And what I saw was brilliantly talented people taking some ideas I’d had and making them smarter, funnier and more beautiful.  I’m hooked. I’ll see you at Theatrix next year.

They Be Calling Us Witches: A Cast Member’s Take on The Crucible

By Mel Ridgway

On March 1, 1692, the townspeople of Salem, Massachusetts began to hold trials accusing its citizens of witchcraft. Exactly 321 years later, the lights went up on the Educational Theatre program’s re-creation of these trials, The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Twelve graduate and undergraduate students, both in and out of the program, came together to take on this daunting task. I was lucky enough to be one of those twelve.

Photo by Chianan Yen

The idea of performing in an American classic like The Crucible – and trying to string it all together in only six weeks– was a very scary and exciting thought. To add to the stakes, this year marks the 60th anniversary of The Crucible‘s first Broadway production. Luckily we had the motivational push from our wonderful stage manager Talia Krispel and her assistant stage managers, Cody Allyn Page and Kathleen Turner and the aid of our director Dr. Philip Taylor and our dramaturg/assistant director Jonathan Jones.

Photo by Chianan Yen

The rehearsal process was, to say the least, memorable and challenging. The show is emotionally draining and forces you to really open your eyes. If the plot of this show is not enough to exhaust the cast, trying to figure out the grammar and language of the text was even harder. But, through an amazing cast bond we formed from the hours spent together, we challenged each other to leap past these hurdles and bring each other to the finish line. It was truly an ensemble effort to get to where we were.

One of the most interesting realizations in the process occurred during one of our talk-backs with high school students. One of these students raised their hand and asked, “Now why do the costumes look modern, the set pieces look like they’re from colonial times and the projections look like they’re from the 1950s?” The cast was baffled until one of our cast members, Cara Arcuni, answered this question.

“The themes of this show are timeless.”

I realized she was absolutely right. Somehow, in a strange yet understandable way, all of these time periods connected to each other. It reminded me of a quote our director introduced us to in the beginning of our rehearsal process:

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

And this is exactly what has happened. We have forgotten about the message this play is supposed to teach us and, as punishment, we are still hunting witches to this day, only these witches take on the form of illegal immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community and union workers just to name a few examples. The observation this high school student made was exactly Arthur Miller wanted. We are supposed to think it is strange that all of these different time periods relate to each other, and still relate to us now and in 60 years, if we do not listen to this quote, we will be having this conversation once again.

Photo by Chianan Yen

Uproar Theatre Corps: Fall’s Changing Leaves

The Uproar Theatre Corps is proud to present its spring main stage production, Fall’s Changing Leaves, this April 11, 12, and 13. This original devised production was originally written and produced in the Samuel Beckett Theatre in Dublin, Ireland by Taylor Barnard, Moises Castro, Jack Dod, Declan Gorman, Brad Harris, Valerie Issembert, Kate Kearns, and Amy Pottinger. Now, it is making its North American debut with a revised script and new cast members.

Chronicling over two hundred years of the crann O’Riada, from the American Revolution to the the death of its current patriarch, “Fall’s Changing Leaves” is a drama about family, mystery, and how our past is just as rooted in us as our family tree is rooted in the earth. The action takes place at the wake of James Ryder, where the audience are mourners, and the cast of characters include a recently married lesbian couple with a troublesome two year old, a juvenile delinquent math whiz, a drunk pediatrician, a mysterious visitor, a very confused genealogist, and someone whose past and future are as muddled as the land from which he came. 

The wake of James Ryder will be held April 11, 12, and 13 at 8pm in the Palladium Multipurpose Room, 140 E 14th St. As this is a wake, and James’s family is still in mourning, we ask that you wear black, but please do be prepared to celebrate James’s life.


Challenging, Thought-Provoking, and Inspired: Study Abroad Dublin

By Justin Daniel

Site specific theatre at the Giants Causeway near Belfast.

It’s been many months since I returned from Ireland, and while the experience is still sinking in, I can safely say the program was revelatory. I was a part of a group a sixteen graduate students exploring community engaged theatre while living in the historic Trinity College campus. The simple fact that we were away from home and studying in a new environment allowed us to dive into this work without the usual distractions of everyday life. Not to mention the work was challenging, thought-provoking, and inspired.





Group photo with students, tutors, and our fearless leader Joe Salvatore.

The three weeks gave us an opportunity to work with leaders in the field of applied theatre, write and perform original pieces, and individually develop a prospectus for a community engaged theatre project of our choice. For me, the prospectus experience especially widened my ideas around theatre as it required me to consider the practical, logistical, financial, and cultural considerations that all influence theatre in specific communities. I’m thrilled that I now have the initial groundwork for an actual project that I’m now actively developing.




Justin Daniel, celebrating the incredible scenery of Ireland.

Beyond all of this, I had a blast. I closed out my graduate experience surrounded by inspiring people, the vast history and culture of Ireland, and expanded my personal artistic practice.







The wall dividing Catholics from Protestants in Belfast has now become the Peace Wall, filled with inspirational messages from around the world.

After an exhausting hour of physical theatre!


For over 30 years, the program in Educational Theatre has offered unique opportunities for concentrated study and daily field participation in the uses of theatre education and applied theatre which are designed for teachers, teaching artists, university students, recreational leaders, language and speech arts specialists, theatre directors, actors, integrated arts educators, and community leaders.

For additional information about the program, visit: