Uproar Theatre Corps: Steinhardt’s Rabble-Rousing Student Theatre Group

By Robert Stevenson

Uproar Theatre Corps is a student-run Steinhardt club sponsored by the Undergraduate Student Government. Founded and led by undergraduates in the Program in Ed 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.



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Inquiry, Reflection, Action!

By E. Okobi

Helen Barns in a scene from My Name is Rachel Corrie, their scene presentation for the 2012 NYU Steinhardt Educational Theatre Youth Ensemble scene showcase.

Paulo Freire’s theory of the student-teacher and Augusto Boal’s innovative work with “spect-actors”, and their espousal of an academic and artistic process based on inquiry, reflection, research and action inspired me to apply their theories in Theater: Pedagogy and Practice, a course taught in the Steinhardt Educational Theatre department by Amy Cordileone in Spring, 2012. The coursework involved working with members of the Educational Theatre Program’s Youth Ensemble.

The first thing we did as a group was sit and share our stories with each other, a feature common to Participatory Action Research, or PAR, a methodology deeply indebted to Freire. Through stories, we learned that not all of us had been born in the States, and that the majority of our little group was familiar with the immigration story, and its themes of cultural casualties (such as lost languages), code-switching and crossed signals. Together we reflected on the similarities and differences of our paths to the performing arts, and what we hoped to get from working together. We then set ground rules and established common goals together.

My colleague Justin Daniel and I were assigned three young women of varying performance experience and skill levels. Beyond meeting the challenge of finding scripts written for a multicultural, all female cast, I determined early that I would work with an intentionality that drew upon the work of Freire and Boal, and that developed their critical thinking and performance skills. After selections from the play My Name is Rachel Corrie were chosen for our scene, we set to work on character development and establishing the world of the play, which is based on the journals, letters and recordings of a young American woman killed while protesting Israeli government actions in Palestine. The young actors had all expressed a desire to take on challenging material, and this selection had been made with that request in mind. They immediately identified with the play’s young heroine, whose upbringing was quite different from their own, but whose words resonated with them nonetheless. We began establishing the world by first sharing the questions we had about Corrie’s life and writings. These questions informed the dramaturgical research undertaken by the young actors. Once this information was gathered, we reflected together on its content, and the emotional impact it had on us, and on ways to express what we’d learned through visual as well as physical performance. Each actor was cast to play Corrie at a specific time in her life (age twelve, nineteen and twenty-one respectively). Our questions and reflections led us to establish a spare set that provided not only visual context, but contributed its own narrative by tracing Corrie’s journey from sheltered young girl to worldly advocate.

Steinhardt Ed Theatre Youth Ensemble veteran Jackie Rivera portrays Rachel Corrie at age 21.

It’s a challenge to dramatize literature not written for performance. Our young actors repeatedly relied on inquiry, research, reflection and action to find the dramatic truth in Corrie’s writings, and to identify their own objectives and beat shifts. We discussed words, images and ideas found in Corrie’s writing that resonated with us, and used information gathered and reflections gleaned from conversations to ascertain their significance to Corrie, and in service to the story we were trying to tell. For the traditional director, this process can be frustrating. It is long, prone to tangents, and often takes time away from standard practices such as blocking and staging. It can be, however, invaluable to the young actor, particularly for those who join drama programs wishing to gain key pro-social, as well performance skills. The young ladies’ deep commitment to the subject matter provided incentive for them to memorize their lines, their curiosity led them to undertake exhaustive research well and beyond what they’d been asked to deliver, and the knowledge gained from this process bolstered their confidence in their ability to make thoughtful contributions to costume, props and staging for the piece.

By the time we began blocking our scene, their movements developed naturally and fluidly, shaped and informed by the research they’d done, their contributions to props and costumes, and their commitment to enlivening the words of a woman with whom they’d come to strongly identify. While Corrie’s words remain compelling more than a decade after her death, it’s uncertain that the actors we’d worked with would have produced the performances they gave without the freedom to fully engage with the text. If I had not come to this process convinced that the students I’d be working with had just as much to teach me as I did them, I would not have learned what I needed to know about their backgrounds and motivations to seek out a text that engaged them on both an academic and performance level. By treating my students as my intellectual equals, I co-facilitated a process through which they experienced marked artistic and academic growth. This experience underscored for me the genius of Freire and Boal, who assert that within each of us lies infinite, singular expertise. By allowing myself to acknowledge the skill of the students I worked with, I facilitated not just their growth as scholars, but also my own growth as an educator.

Members of the NYU Steinhardt Educational Theatre Youth Ensemble take their bows at the conclusion of their Spring 2012 showcase.


The Program in Educational Theatre’s Youth Ensemble is comprised of young people aged 13-18 from the New York City area. They work with NYU students in Shakespeare’s Theatre I in fall and Theater: Pedagogy and Practice in spring with a culminating performance in April.

Creating the Play/Experiencing the Process

By Marco Santarelli

In spring 2012, NYU Steinhardt presented Theatrix! A Festival of 10-Minute Plays for the fourth consecutive year. While constantly evolving, the festival remains dedicated to the creation and production of student work in both Educational Theater’s undergraduate and graduate community. Unique to this year’s Theatrix! is its evolution into an intense and liberating form under the guidance of Amy Cordileone, the festival’s curator, who encouraged the participants to take risks in writing, directing, and performing their work.

Being chosen as a playwright for this year’s festival was an indescribable honor, albeit a nerve-shattering experience. It gave me an opportunity to take my creative process to a new and professional level. Instead of the usual “write something and see how it sounds” approach I normally take when writing, the Threatrix! team gave me specific guidelines, schedules, and even a playwriting mentor to keep me on task and help take my play from the page to the stage.

Before the plays were chosen, each playwright had to select a director to take on the role of casting and see the piece to completion. I had the honor of working with my friend and classmate, Jack Dod, who approached his role with enthusiasm and professionalism. For this totally collaborative effort, the Theatrix! team set up workshops, readings, panels, and a one-on-one mentorship for the playwright and director, giving them advice and encouragement during the long and strenuous process. What was most exciting to me, and to most of the students involved, was the playwriting panel sponsored by the Uproar Theater Corps.The panel consisted of three professional playwrights who spoke about their experience in the theater to the Steinhardt students and faculty. I was impressed with their unwavering dedication to their craft and was honored to have had the opportunity to discuss my play with them and to learn from them. I believe this instilled a surge of new energy into the process, as each playwright and director followed up by attacking his or her play with vitality, polishing and refining the work with the audience’s enjoyment in mind.

On a personal level, I had the opportunity to work with Daphie Sicre as my playwriting mentor. Her copious notes, as well as her comments and questions, helped me to see the work through the eyes of another playwright and audience member as we moved toward opening night. This was very important to me as my play, Dandelions for Angels, is loosely based on a difficult personal experience, so having a voice not connected to the subject was exactly what I needed. I’m thankful to Daphie, Amy, and the entire Theatrix! team for giving me the opportunity to revisit the months I spent lying in a hospital bed, following surgery for a brain tumor, and to bring my story, and the story of countless others, to the public. I am truly grateful for the Educational Theater community’s tireless efforts in and dedication to this collaborative process and for the opportunity to participate in this festival, which has provided one of the best experiences of my life.


Theatrix! was established as a student-run play festival for students in the Program in Educational Theatre in 2003. In its current incarnation, the play festival involves the writing and performing of student-written ten-minute plays.

Fellowship (and Food!) in Florence

by Sara M. Simons
PhD Candidate

Sara on a trip to Capri

Last fall, I spent the semester in Florence on a fellowship through the NYU Provost’s Global Research Initiative. It was an amazing opportunity to work on my dissertation topic review at the gorgeous NYU Florence campus. The fellowship covered my travel costs as well as a living stipend, and I was given access to office space in one of the NYU Florence villas. I worked there with an Italian Studies doctoral student, and we decorated our office with rock and roll posters and occasionally went out for a bistecca fiorentina after work. I attended several events held on the NYU Florence campus, including a fabulous symposium about the future of U.S. politics featuring several famous political pundits, and a talk by legendary writer Pete Hamill.

Bistecca Fiorentina, the traditional dish of Florence

Although I missed my Educational Theatre students, I got updates from several of them over email, which always brightened my day. I was able to keep in touch with the faculty over email as well, and when the time came for me to present my topic review to doctoral Collegium, I was able to do so over Skype—at midnight Florence time!

I had never been to Italy before, and I took advantage of my fellowship to travel around the country. Although I stuck to a fairly studious routine during the week, I took several weekend trips to beautiful locales—notably Perugia, Venice, Sicily, Capri, and Paris! And of course the food was amazing! I would recommend that any doctoral students interested in writing from a new locale check out the Provost’s Global Research Initiative—there are now fellowships available in Florence, Berlin, Shanghai, London, Sydney, and Washington DC!

A view of Villa La Pietra at the NYU Florence campus


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Adventure and Spontaneity in YIKES!

By Tal Etedgi

Photo by Chianan Yen

I walked into the Provincetown Playhouse, signed in for the YIKES! audition, and waited a few minutes until I was called in. Walking down the steps of the theater, I was approached by Tony Graham, a wonderful director and teacher from England. He shook my hand, introduced himself, and asked me to sit down and talk about myself. At other auditions I’ve been to, I’ve felt that they were so rushed and that the auditors aren’t always listening to you so I appreciated that Tony listened to me and made me feel comfortable.

It was such an honor to receive a callback, and to be cast as the “Grandma” in YIKES! After reading the script, I was sure I had come across the most obscure and out of this world TYA musical. With that, rehearsals began, and we went right into the bazaar world of Grandma, Solomon (the grandson), Mary (the granddaughter), Baby, Zipper (the dog), and of course the Wakikata (characters from the Japanese tradition, known to be the assisters on stage who served as our obstacles, ancestors, and guides through our trek).

In rehearsals, Tony led the cast through collective warm-ups and exercises such as singing “Yonder Come Day” and a game in which one person was the choir director conducting the rest of the cast through sound. After the first week of rehearsals, everyone felt very connected and fully embraced this strange and obscure musical. Zipper, played by Gus Jacobson, was on all fours, while Mary, the ridiculous and angry teenager became snootier by the day.

Photo by Chianan Yen

When performances came around, I was eager to see how the students would react. After every school performance we gathered the entire cast and crew onstage, and had a Q & A session with the students. I’m sure I can speak for the cast when I say that we were blown away, and completely amazed by all of their questions and thoughts which included: “Where did the Grandma go?” “Who is going to take care of the children now that Grandma’s gone?” “Are the Wakikata angels?”

Being a part of YIKES! instilled so much adventure and spontaneity in my acting, and I want to thank Tony that as well as for the trust he had in the cast to put on this beautiful production, and the passion he has for theatrical journeys. I feel that from the moment I auditioned, to the end, the journey was strong, and powerful. The cast went beyond any expectation with this musical, and I no longer consider this show “obscure,” but as a beautiful piece of theatre that has a lasting effect on both young children and adults.


Yikes! was presented at the Provincetown Playhouse in February 2012 featuring book and lyrics by Bryony Lavery, music by Gary Yershon, and direction by Tony Graham.

Letters to Grandma: YIKES! in the Classroom

by Alissa Crea

Undergraduate student Tal Etedgi appears as Grandma; Photo By Chianan Yen

During the week leading up to YIKES!, my cooperating teacher and I used the Teacher’s Resource Guide to help prepare students for the performance in order for the students to fully connect to the plot and themes of the play.

We implemented two of the recommended pre-show lessons: “Family Meal,” an improvisation activity helping students to make the fundamental connection between the main characters in YIKES! and members of their own families, as well as the pre-show lesson “Overcoming the Frights,” in which students created and drew their own frights and as a group decided together how they can overcome each fright.

During the show, I saw our first grade students stretching their necks to see the stage. Many students were commenting on the action during the performance which only lead to a richer discussion during the post-show debrief with the cast at the playhouse.

Sample student work

During the following week, first graders took part in the post-show activity “Letters to Grandma,” in which the students took on the role of one of the characters in the play and wrote a letter to their no longer present “Grandma” in their chosen character’s point of view. The letters that were produced during this activity were incredible! They were each extremely articulate and compassionate. It was very evident that each student had their own interpretation of the play, but came to this understanding with concrete, supportive ideas – a long-lasting skill for every child. The ideas and themes within YIKES! were relatable to so many students’ lives that we have been able to tie these same ideas and themes into many of our additional lessons.

Sample student work.


Every semester, the Program in Educational Theatre hosts two free matinees of their mainstage productions for school children in the New York City area. Teacher’s Resource Guides are created by staff in the program and distributed for use in the classroom with preparatory and reflective activities. An archive of past resource guides is available here: http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/music/edtheatre/archive

Dr. Kim, Byoung Joo

Dr. Kim, Byoung Joo

Byoung-Joo Kim, is a drama/theatre practitioner, researcher, and educator who has been working across the continents.  Born and raised in Seoul, Korea, he decided to study drama/theatre in New York City.  There he met great mentors and influences, such as Lowell Swortzell, Philip Taylor, Nellie McCaslin, Maxine Greene, Frances Rust, Nancy Smithner, and Chris Vine, those who eventually changed Byoung-Joo’s vision of drama and his career path.  Byoung-Joo worked as drama teaching artist (a.k.a. actor-teacher) for the renowned Creative Arts Team (CAT) under the artistic/educational leadership of Chris Vine.  For more than four years, he devised diverse drama curriculum, consulted teachers and administrators, and implemented issue-based drama workshops for children, students, parents, and teachers around NYC and beyond.  The excellence of CAT drama work, combined with the talented devotion of the colleagues, strongly reinforced his passion for drama education and trained him to grow not simply as practitioner but also as artist and educator.  Byoung-Joo earned M.A. in 1998 and eventually his Ph.D. in the program of Educational Theatre from New York University in 2005.

Upon returning to his native Korea, Byoung-Joo began his long-planned dream to introduce and spread out diverse and at times challenging drama and arts education in Korea.  With a small group of young drama/theatre artists and educators, Byoung-Joo founded PRAXIS, a clear reminder of his view on drama education – a combined endeavor of action and reflection, practically, practice and research.

His first project, TIE “A Big Blue Whale’s Dream” (2005) touched on a sensitive issue of disability awareness and inclusion in Korea. The project received grants from government and regional arts agencies and visited primary schools for two years.  Byoung-Joo and PRAXIS then continuously developed a series of participants-centered and socially challenging Forum Theatre works on diverse social and educational issues. “The Butterfly Effect” (2008) tackles on Korea’s serious social issue of ‘intense competition’ for young people.  “Mom, we’ve got another baby” (2009) challenges the dilemma of low-birth rate and child care.  “Stop! Let’s help Mrs. Baek” (2010), devised and performed by the senior citizens dealing with the issue of the elderly in Korea.

Byoung-Joo and PRAXIS also have worked on projects for specific groups of socially marginalized: participatory drama programs for teenagers; senior theatre programs for the elderly; and interactive drama programs for young children are among them. Since 2010, “Applied Theatre project with the Homeless” has been one of the hard-working and meaningful projects for PRAXIS. It has grown into a forming of a homeless theatre company ‘Yeon-Feel-Tong’. In 2012, PRAXIS devised and implemented TIE program on school violence “Eyes Wide Shut? Eyes Wide Open!” to nearly 30,000 middle school students. It was a part of an unprecedented, largest public project funded by Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education.  In 2013, Byoung-Joo led PRAXIS to a new challenge by directing a large-scale theatre production “The Forgotten”.  The production combined grave historic facts with delightful imagination of early Korean independence fighters during the Japanese occupation of Korea in the 1920’s.

As a researcher and educator, Byoung-Joo has maintained his delicate balance with his time as practitioner.  He has published a number of research articles in academic journals including RIDE, presented keynotes and papers at international conferences in Taiwan, AATE in Vancouver, and IDEA in Hong Kong and Paris.  He first introduced the ‘applied theatre’ to Korea by translating of <Applied Theatre> by Philip Taylor in 2009 and organized a 3-day “Applied Theatre National Workshop and Conference” in 2010.  His primary research interests are drama/theatre education, TIE/Forum Theatre and Applied Theatre practices, professional development, and qualitative research on drama and arts education.

Currently, he is the assistant professor and program director of Graduate Program of Educational Drama/Drama Education at Seoul National University of Education (SNUE), still the only academic graduate program of the title in Korea.  Byoung-Joo is the proud founder and has been Artistic & Education Director of PRAXIS for 10 years.  Since 2011, he has been Vice President of Korea Association of Drama/Theatre Education (KADE).  In 2013 IDEA World Congress in Paris, Byoung-Joo received an honour of being elected as Vice President of General Meeting Committee (GMC) for the year 2013 – 2016.

Kim, Byoung Joo (Ph.D.)

Associate Professor & Program Director,

Program of Drama Education

Graduate School of Education



Center for International Cooperation and Education,

Seoul National University of Education


Artistic & Education Director


Institute of Drama/Theatre and Education


E-Mail: praxis@snue.ac.kr dramapraxis@gmail.com

Mobile: 82-10-9961-3316


Last Updated: 2015. 10.20


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