Please join us at the Provincetown this weekend!
Please join us at the Provincetown this weekend!
Could experiencing the lives of aging performing artists through young actors cause people to rethink their beliefs about aging and disrupt implicit biases? Of a Certain Age-a verbatim performance comprised of eight students portraying 16 performing artists and professionals over the age of 65-will explore this concept through performances at the Provincetown Playhouse from Friday, February 23 to Sunday, March 4.
The experimental performance replicates the voices, intonations, and gestures of aging actors, commentators, and professionals based on interview transcripts, audio recordings, and field notes. Of a Certain Age is a production of NYU Steinhardt’s Program in Educational Theatre in collaboration with The Actors Fund, an organization providing assistance to the entertainment community, and NYU Steinhardt’s Verbatim Performance Lab. Joe Salvatore, playwright and clinical associate professor of educational theatre at Steinhardt, created the play utilizing verbatim performance techniques similar to those in the Off-Broadway production,Her Opponent, an ethnodramatic re-staging of excerpts of the 2016 presidential debates co-created with economist Maria Guadalupe (INSEAD) in 2017.
Eight students conducted interviews with 37 performing artists-ranging from a back up singer for George Michael to an original cast member from West Side Story on Broadway-about their experiences growing older in an industry that has traditionally favored youth. Students will perform interview excerpts word for word and exactly replicate interviewees as they discuss the struggle to land roles, sexism in the industry, forced retirement, age typecasting, and more.
Salvatore said casting choices were designed to disrupt audience expectations. In one scene, a young man depicts an older woman while a second actor on stage discusses being overlooked for voiceover roles, as these are typically given to men.
“Verbatim performance gives us an opportunity to reexamine how we think about aging. Watching gender-reversed and age-reversed actors perform these roles while in dialogue about sexism and ageism forces the audience to challenge their subconscious beliefs. How do we think about actors or celebrities over the age of 65 and how does this change when their experiences are portrayed by young people? The casting deliberately includes moments to shake up the audience’s perceptions; the theatricality is always present,” Salvatore said.
Salvatore said these choices cause an ‘alienation effect’ which forces the audience to reflect on what is being presented in critical and objective ways, rather than simply being immersed in the performance as they would with more a traditional play. This process of ‘making the familiar strange’ helps audiences to challenge their implicit biases and intolerances.
The performance also includes interview excerpts with writer and activist Ashton Applewhite, who recently gave a TED Talk about ageism as the last socially acceptable prejudice. The actor portraying Applewhite discusses the pejorative ways aging celebrities are discussed and structural discrimination in the industry.
Traci DiGesu, Senior Program Volunteer and Activities Coordinator at The Actors Fund, said the project helped participants feel heard by the next generation and discuss prejudices that affect artists of all ages.
“I was hearing from my clients about their experiences of ageism and feeling invisible, but I was also hearing a lot of good stories about how much they were still enjoying their work. It’s important for them to maintain their identities as artists and this project presented a terrific opportunity for participants to talk about their lives with student researchers who were genuinely interested,” DiGesu said.
The project is part of NYU Steinhardt’s newly formed Verbatim Performance Lab, which is committed to using verbatim performance techniques as an investigative tool to challenge and disrupt preconceived notions, implicit biases, and intolerances across a spectrum of political, cultural, and social beliefs and experiences.
“Of a Certain Age” runs Friday, February 23 and Saturday, February 24 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, February 25 at 3 p.m.; Thursday, March 1 to Saturday, March 3 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, March 4 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 general admission and $5 for students and seniors. For tickets, contact NYU Box Office at tickets.nyu.edu, call212.998.4941, or visit in person at 566 LaGuardia Place (at Washington Square South).
“Of a Certain Age” is directed by Joe Salvatore and assistant directed by Andy Wagner. It features scenic design by Andy Hall, lighting design by Daryl Embry and Leah Cohen, sound design by Darren Whorton, props by Sven Nelson, and costumes by Márion Talán. The dramaturg is Sarah Bellantoni and theraturg is Traci DiGesu. The production stage manager is Cassie Holzum and assistant stage manager is Jiawen Hu, with research and assistance from Han Yu. The cast features NYU Steinhardt students Rai Arsa Artha, Josh Batty, Megan Conway, Sherill-Marie Henriquez, Suzy Jane Hunt (appears courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association), Keith Morris, Amalia Ritter, and Hayley Sherwood.
Steinhardt’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions, established in 1925, instructs over 1,600 students majoring in music and performing arts programs. Music and Performing Arts Professions serves as NYU’s “school” of music and is a major research and practice center in music technology, music business, music composition, film scoring, songwriting, music performance practices, performing arts therapies, and the performing arts-in-education (music, dance, and drama)
To recognize the achievement of our first EdD graduate, Michael Yurchak, we invited him to reflect on his experience in the program and to articulate his future plans. Congratulations, Michael!
What were your expectations when you entered the EdD program?
My expectations were that I would continue my own learning and understanding of educational theater and applied theater praxis. Since I live in Los Angeles, I worried that my geographic challenges would hamper my experience or become an issue for my professors and classmates. I assumed I would have a hard time connecting with the community due to my location, but that was not at all how things went. Because of the intensive semesters offered over the summer and January terms, as well as weekend intensives during the fall and spring, I was able to attend most of my classes in person in an immersive curriculum that allowed a deeper personal connection than I would have thought possible. As a graduate assistant in London and Puerto Rico, I felt very connected to the student community, and I absolutely loved being involved as much as I was. I did have a few classes during my time in the program where I had to attend class meetings via Skype. Every one of my professors and fellow students were supportive and open to making the best of that challenge when it came up. What might have been a distraction was actually kind of fun, because of the novelty it presented!
What aspects of the program were helpful in your academic and professional development?
The collaborative nature of crafting a program that fit my needs and interests was incredibly useful in my development as a professional in the field. My advisor (Jonathan Jones) and mentor (David Montgomery) as well as my dissertation committee members and readers (Philip Taylor, Nisha Sajnani, Amy Cordileone, and Nan Smither) were all extremely approachable and helpful in charting my course through the program. There was a collegial nature to the discussions we had from the very beginning. The sense that I had agency and choice within the context of the requirements was empowering. Finding the intensive courses and study-abroad programs that allowed me to fully participate was really important to me. Also, designing and applying my own practicum and independent study projects was enlightening. That independent work served as a barometer of my own understanding and illustrated some ways in which I might incorporate my coursework into real world application. An unanticipated outcome has been an increased confidence in my writing and how I might contribute to the academy in that way, which is not something I had thought about before finishing the program.
How will you apply what you learned in the program out in the field?
I will be teaching voice in the MFA program at Cal State University Los Angeles and will remain on the faculty at the Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio where I teach voice and acting. Independent projects in the applied theater space also pop up throughout the year, and I look forward to participating there as well. Since defending my dissertation, I have been asked to adapt a portion of it for the publication associated with the Voice and Speech Trainers Association (VASTA), and I’m looking forward to that too. I had not anticipated going into academia after graduating because, ultimately, I would like to lead an education department for an arts organization. Still, at the risk of being a bit sappy, I guess I see everything I do academically and professionally as part of the journey of a life-long learner. That is exciting to me, and I look forward to seeing how the future unfolds.
What advice would you give someone considering applying for the EdD program?
My advice would be to enter the program with a clear sense of why you think you need to be there. It’s a big commitment, and it can feel overwhelming at times. For me, a strong understanding of why I felt I had to make it happen kept me going when things got tough. I also think it’s important to stay open to the possibility that new discoveries may change where you thought you’d end up. I found it incredibly useful to stay flexible!
NYU Steinhardt’s Program in Educational Theatre will stage two events this month to celebrate the women of New York State winning the right to vote a century ago, exploring the historical context through the individuals who fought for the cause.
A newly created play entitled Hear Them Roar: The Fight for Women’s Rights investigates the untold stories of the suffragists of 1917, including women of color, immigrants, and the men (or “suffragents“) who helped win the vote.
Under the direction of Nan Smithner, clinical associate professor of educational theatre at NYU Steinhardt, the play was devised by an ensemble of 15 actors, who wrote and created the scenarios by deeply researching historical facts of the time.
The show is conceived as an environmental theatre performance, with historical scenes related to the struggle for women’s rights taking place in Washington Square Park. These scenes are connected thematically in Pless Hall’s Black Box Theatre to present day issues.
The audience for Hear Them Roar: The Fight for Women’s Rights will meet at the Black Box Theatre, located at 82 Washington Square East (entrance on Washington Place), and will stroll from scene to scene throughout the performance. Audience members should dress warmly and wear comfortable shoes. In case of rain the performance will move inside Pless Hall.
Hear Them Roar: The Fight for Women’s Rights runs for seven performances between Friday, October 20 and Sunday, October 29. For a list of performance dates and times, visit the NYU Events Calendar. Tickets are $15 general admission and $5 for students and seniors. For tickets, contact NYU Box Office at tickets.nyu.edu, call 212.998.4941, or visit in person at 566 LaGuardia Place (at Washington Square South).
The Thursday, October 26 performance will feature a talk back after the show with Professor Burt Neuborne, who held the Inez Milholland Chair at NYU Law for the past ten years, and NYU Journalism Professor Brooke Kroeger, who wrote the recent book The Suffragents: How Women Used Men to Get the Vote (SUNY Press, 2017).
The Program in Educational Theatre will also present Upon a White Horse, the latest event in its Storytelling Series at the Provincetown Playhouse, produced by storyteller and NYU Steinhardt adjunct professor Regina Ress.
While many fought for women’s suffrage, one woman in particular stands out for her aptitude for drawing attention to the cause: Inez Milholland, a 1912 graduate of the NYU School of Law. Milholland may be best remembered sitting astride a white horse, channeling Joan of Arc, and leading parades down New York City’s Fifth Avenue and Washington, D.C.’s Pennsylvania Avenue to fight for women’s rights.
Called the New York Times’ “Poster Girl of Radicalism,” this labor lawyer, war correspondent, and outspoken crusader for social justice literally worked herself to death for the cause of women’s suffrage. Storyteller Darci Tucker will bring her back to life on Sunday, October 22 at 1 pm at the Provincetown Playhouse (133 Macdougal Street).
Upon a White Horse is free and open to the public, and is appropriate for adults and youth 12 and older. For more information, visit the NYU Events Calendar.
Steinhardt’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions, established in 1925, instructs over 1,600 students majoring in music and performing arts programs. Music and Performing Arts Professions serves as NYU’s “school” of music and is a major research and practice center in music technology, music business, music composition, film scoring, songwriting, music performance practices, performing arts therapies, and the performing arts-in-education (music, dance, and drama).
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.
By Eric Gelb
“Can I get a drumroll please?”, I would ask. Students would use their hands to drum on the floor. This would lead into the following dialogue – “today’s question of the day is…” and on this day, the question was ’why is musical theatre important to the world?’”
“Musical theatre is important to me because I don’t have a lot of friends at school and when I come here, I feel accepted”, one student said. Another sitting nearby leaned in for a hug. “It doesn’t matter what kind of day you’re having because once you get onstage you get to be another person and live in their world”. Some students “snapped” to show their agreement.*
Doing the “question of the day” warm-up was one of the rewarding parts of my summer as a teaching artist intern at The Rose Theater in Omaha, Nebraska. Working at The Rose was an experience I could never have been perfectly prepared for.
The Rose Theater is committed to enriching the lives of children through theater and arts education, home to the Omaha Theater Company – one of the largest professional children’s theater in the country! Accessible to all, no child is turned away for economic reasons. Live performances are shared from two stages: the main stage and the Hitchcock Theater. Professional actor/educators offer classes in theater, directing, musical theater and more.
As a summer intern, I co-taught creative drama camps and assistant-directed a production of XANADU. With almost 40 hours of contact time with students every week, I had opportunities to lead classes, observe and lead lunch and before/after class activities. Sitting in on weekly education meetings, intern meetings and participating in lesson planning was part of my weekly schedule as an intern to gain a better understanding about how an education department at a professional theatre company works.
“How was Omaha???”, people asked when I returned. “I bet Omaha was like, super different than NYC”, some would say, almost sympathetically. So here are five things I learned…
When I was assigned XANADU for the summer, it became my goal to make the show GREAT. I purposefully asked students to dig deeper into their roles than I knew they ever have been in the past. My co-workers often reminded me not to push them too hard, that they’re only 13. I was 13 when I co-produced my first musical. I knew they were capable of performing like professionals. And to be clear, performing like a professional doesn’t mean hitting all the notes or acting like Meryl Streep. It’s being a responsible actor and a team player. During the run, I was told by multiple people that the show was “the most prepared show of the summer” or “the best show in a LONG time”. Seeing their faces after opening night and hearing the applause confirmed my theory that we CAN test kids. They can handle it.
Teaching creative drama was particularly tricky because it asks students to be silly and LOOK silly in front of their peers. Part of our creative drama courses was spending part of the morning in-role as characters from the story we were studying. Of course we had students who suddenly “had a stomach ache” or “felt sick” as soon as we got in-role. In one class, we were pirates looking for Peter Pan! I didn’t dare step back and watch them act out the story – I was right there with them. If I didn’t join in, I wouldn’t be able to have gotten THEM to do it either.
I am a tough teacher. I want my students to be the best they can be. When I am in charge, students do not sit out. They do not pass, and they do not skip. Everyone has to attempt or try the activity before they decide they don’t like it. Why? Because this is a theatre. We instill the concept of speaking in front of others, being a team player and taking responsibility. So if I let a student skip because they’re scared, or quit because their team isn’t winning… I’m not letting them learn those lessons. I often say “we don’t quit things because they’re hard”. Not everyone agrees with me – some have a softer, gentler approach. And that’s okay! We all approach students differently.
I spent, probably, at least ten man-hours on the two lesson plans I presented solely by myself in classes at The Rose. I’d say we actually did about 60% of both of them. The truth is, no matter how hard we try, as artists, we can never really accurately estimate how long something is going to take in class. Sometimes inspiration strikes and we think of a fun medication to a game and it takes longer. Sometimes a new game doesn’t land well with the students, and it’s clear that you have to move on earlier than you expected. And that’s okay.
No one teaches to be rich. People teach because they simply cannot live if they are not impacting the lives of young people, so those that do choose to work inside of a children’s theatre have some sort of passion for it. The people that work in the costume rental shop, those that work upstairs in accounting and even the teaching artist you may teach with daily – they all have a very heavy tie to the arts. Stopping to listen and hear their stories are fascinating.
In the winter, I will be joining the team at WICKED on Broadway in the stage management department as an intern. Broadway has always been the dream, and although not too similar to the work I did at The Rose, I am POSITIVE I will, probably without knowing it, allow all I learned at The Rose into my work at WICKED, which leads me into bonus number 6 – once you’re a teaching artist, you’ll never shake all you learn.
Eric is a published author; you can buy his book “Growing Up in the Wings” on Amazon at www.bit.ly/GUITWBUY or at the NYU Bookstore. Follow him on Twitter (@DirectorGelb) or visit his website www.bit.ly/ericgelbofficial for more content.
* Answers have been fabricated to be generic and protect students’ identities.
Michael Tommasone Aquilante, MA, 1978
Michael and life-partner Jon Laskin spend spring/fall in Italy, winter in Spain, and summer in Adirondack Mountains. Their English translations of plays by Nobel Prize-winning Italian playwright Dario Fo are produced in US, EU, Canada; and their latest projects are English translations/adaptations of works by Luigi Pirandello.
Dennis Baker, MA, 2009
Dennis is acting in Los Angeles where he was recently seen on Criminal Minds. As The Business Program Director at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation he teaches class and programs panels about the business of acting and the greater entertainment industry as a whole.
Isaiah Bent, MA, 2016
Isaiah is an elementary school theater teacher at PS 206 in Rego Park, Queens. Last January, his fifth graders performed a rousing production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He loves his job!
Courtney J. Boddie, MA, 2003
Courtney is Director of Education/School Engagement at The New Victory Theater and the Creator and Host of Teaching Artistry with Courtney J. Boddie podcast. Featuring interviews with artists and arts educators about the work that teaching artists do in communities. Tune in on iTunes or Soundcloud.
Toni Borkowski (Caracci), MA, 2008
Toni is currently teaching Theatre Arts at Eastport South Manor Jr.-Sr. High School in Manorville, NY. Recent directing credits include The Last Night of Ballyhoo, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Sound of Music, Inherit the Wind and The Music Man.
Steve Borowka, MA, 2001
Steve is the owner and director of Acting Manitou, a theater camp in Maine for campers 11 – 17. In the off season Steve is the Performing Arts Chair and drama teacher at Friends Seminary in NYC.
Deborah Bradshaw, MA, 2001
Deborah is a Broadway veteran and Director of Theatre Programs at Cumberland County College in Vineland, NJ. She runs an award winning theatre program and has received outstanding Direction awards from The NJACT Perry Awards, KCACTF and BroadwayWorld.
Paul Brewster, MA, 2014
Paul is now Assistant Director of Education; Teaching & Learning at Roundabout Theatre Company. He is also the new Managing Director for Trusty Sidekick Theatre Company.
Grace Chapman, MA, 1998
Grace is a playwright, director, puppeteer and educator. Currently, she is a lecturer in the School of Arts & Sciences at the University of The Gambia (UTG) and Director of its Educational Theater program. She is the 2016 recipient of UTG’s Lecturer of the Year Award.
Adam Crescenzi, MA, 2009
Since graduation, Adam has become the hardest working Teaching Artist in New York City. He currently works for a bunch of acronyms including FCCA at FTH, NYCCE, PS3, TDF, and TFANA’s NV and WTP programs.
Jeff S. Dailey, PhD 2002
Stage director Jeff was awarded a Jean Dalymple Award—which acknowledge innovation in theatre–in October, 2016, for his Off Broadway production of Plautus’ comedy The Captives, which was performed in John Collum Theatre in August and September–the first production in New York since the 19th century.
Elizabeth Dilley, BS, 1998
Elizabeth was ordained in the United Church of Christ in 2003 and currently serves as Minister for Ministers in Local Churches in the national setting of the UCC, where she finds her Educational Theatre background extremely useful. She lives in Cleveland with her spouse, child, and two dogs.
Jason Diminich, BS, 2005
After working 11 years as a middle school drama teacher in Queens, Jason moved to Denver, CO in August where he is now working as the Education Director at Think 360 Arts for Learning.
Jay DiPrima, PhD, 1998
Dr. DiPrima served as the drama education instructor for Endicott College’s Teacher Training Program in Madrid last summer. His article, “Remembering Ruth Draper,” was published by The New England Theatre Journal (Fall 2016).
Zachary Ferentz, MA, 2016
By day, Zak is a kindergarten teacher in the Bronx, and by night, he is an academic coach in Westchester. He hopes to return to NYU to get his PhD in the future.
Benjamin Frimmer, MA, 2002
Ben is a theatre educator working in Westport, Connecticut. For the past 22 years he has successfully run Coleytown Company, a middle school theatre program that pulls in Broadway professionals. His former students have won Oscar Awards and are regularly seen on Broadway, television, and film.
Andrew Gaines, PhD, 2017
Andrew successfully defended his dissertation on multimodal applied arts praxis in an LGBT senior center while publishing, teaching, and applying for jobs!
Laurie Gruhn, MA, 1991
Laurie is the Assistant Head of School and Head Lower School at the Browning School. She adopted her daughter from China in 2008.
Maryam Habibian, PhD, 1993
Maryam taught Educational theater at a couple of renowned Public High Schools in NYC for 30 years and directed several plays. She retired from the Department of Education in June 2016 and teaches part time at a college now and spends her other time in finishing up translations and editing film footage.
Tova Halpern, MA, 2009
After receiving her Master’s from NYU, Tova created Fresh Theatre Arts, LLC, an educational theatre company whose mission is to introduce, educate and encourage youth to participate in performing arts programming while strengthening their creativity, self-esteem, and social skills. FTA’s goal is to provide professional instruction in the areas of acting, dance, voice and technical theatre. FTA currently serves communities in NJ and NY.
Ashley Lauren Hamilton, MA, 2013; PhD, anticipated 2017
Ashley was awarded the NYU 2017 Steinhardt School Outstanding Doctoral Student Teaching Award and has been appointed Assistant Professor of Theatre at the University of Denver.
Deborah Hathaway, MA, 2010
Deborah (Jacoby) resides in a suburb of Seattle, WA and currently teaches interdisciplinary arts courses at the University of Washington Bothell. She is proud to announce the birth of her daughter, Eleanor Sophia, this past November 2016.
Jennifer Holmes, MA, 2006; PhD, 2013
Jennifer has been appointed an Associate Dean at the School of Drama at The New School.
Dennis Scott Holsclaw, PhD, 1996
Dr. Holsclaw recently completed 32 years of service at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. He has served as Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts and Dean of the School of Fine Arts. Currently he has moved back to the classroom teaching and directing in the Department of Theatre and loving every minute of it.
Atsuko Isahai, MA, 2000
Atsuko published a book about her study abroad at NYU.
Emily Kaczmarek, BS, 2012
Emily’s work as a playwright, screenwriter, and librettist has been developed and produced locally and nationally, most recently by Musical Theatre Factory/Playwrights Horizons, This Is Water Theatre Co., Women in Arts & Media Coalition, and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Institute. She is represented by UTA.
Heni Koenigsberg, BS, 1974
Heni is a producer of Broadway theatre, and is dedicated to making theatre accessible and relevant for all audiences. A lifelong passion that was ignited at Steinhardt, Heni has received numerous Tony awards and is currently represented on Broadway by Hello, Dolly! and A Doll’s House, Part 2.
Jessica Lisboa, MA, 2006
Out of 1100 nominees, Jessica was recognized as a Tony Awards Excellence in Theatre Education – Honorable Mention for her work as Performing Arts Chair at North Star Academy College Preparatory High School.
Julia Ohm, MA, 2011
Juila is currently the Program Director for a private school in North Central Massachusetts, acting as Performing Arts Chair and Director of Theatre.
Linda Pallotta, MA, 2002
Linda is currently working on a screen play and revising her stage play. She has a short film ready for a web series soon (looking for a director/cinematographer). Additionally, Linda is working with a volunteer improvisational group touring NY, bringing theatre to those who can’t go out or afford theatre. Readings of her works were held in midtown throughout this winter season.
Kimberly Poppiti, PhD, 2003
Kimberly is a writer and professor. This year, she published an article on “Hamilton’s Turntable and Ring Stage” in TD&T: Theatre Design & Technology, contributed numerous reviews to Electronic Media Reviews Online, and directed both a musical and a drama.
Jennifer Pytleski, MA, 2009
Jennifer is currently in her third year as the Performing Arts Department Chair at the Darrow School in New Lebanon, NY. This year the students performed Burial at Thebes and an all original student work, Darrow on the Fringe.
Jeffrey Querin, MA, 2004
Jeffrey is currently serving as Artistic Director of 34 West Theater Company in Charleston, SC. After taking over a former yogurt shop, he converted the venue into a small bistro-style theatre which produces a full season of original work and hosts live broadcasts from the National Theatre, London.
Shannon Riley, MA, 2011
Shannon is working as the Assistant Director of Advising for NYU University Programs and Adjunct Voice Faculty for NYU Steinhardt (Vocal Performance). She is set to receive her certificate in Vocal Pedagogy from the Steinhardt school this May and is looking to transition to a full time faculty role.
Stephanie Schneider, MA, 2012
Stephanie Schneider continues her work on audience engagement at the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at NYU. She was an artistic associate on Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes from the Field, which premiered off-Broadway in 2016 and was named one of the year’s best plays by the New York Times, Time Out New York, and Time Magazine.
Emily Schorr Lesnick, MA, 2016
Emily is in her sixth year of teaching drama at Riverdale Country School. Since leaving NYU, her play, How We G.L.O.W., has traveled to over 20 schools and community centers, facilitating urgent dialogue about LGBTQ+ youth identity.
Jonathan Shmidt Chapman, MA, 2008
Jonathan has been named the new Executive Director of TYA/USA. Jonathan is a respected leader in our field and our community bringing over a decade of wide-ranging experience in TYA to the organization, and they are delighted to work with him in this new chapter of their organization.
Dani Snyder-Young, MA, 2005; Phd, 2008
Dani was appointed as a full-time faculty member at Northeastern University’s Department of Theater. She will teach Activism and Performance in the fall. Her areas of expertise include theatre and social change, devised theatre, performance studies, and dramaturgy.
Lauren Soprano, BS, 2003
Lauren has been teaching grades K-2 at Putnam Valley Elementary School for the past 13 years. She also sits on the Board of KJK Productions, a non-profit theatre company located in Westchester County, NY.
Robert M. Stevenson, BS, 2013; MA, 2014
Robert is a theatre maker and educator, specializing in ensemble-based devising, puppetry, and Shakespeare. He works as a Teaching Artist for several organizations and is the Project Development Manager for Trusty Sidekick Theater Company.
Michael S. Tick, PhD, 1997
Michael is currently Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University. Previously, he was Dean of the College of Fine Arts, University of Kentucky, 2010-16 and Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance and Artistic Director of Swine Palace, LSU, 1999-2010
Nicole Upon, MA, 2005
Nicole is the Director of Partnerships & Professional Learning at Ingenuity in Chicago where she develops sector-wide strategies to strengthen student learning in and through the arts. Ingenuity ensures the arts are a component of every public school student’s education by leveraging the vibrant communities, knowledge and resources of Chicago.
Samantha von Sperling, BS, 1994
Samantha is a lifestyle personality, host, image consultant, etiquette expert, and columnist. For 20 years Samantha has frequently been featured in the media that has included ABC, NBC, CBS, Time Magazine, New York Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal. She continues to create entertaining ways to share her knowledge with audiences.
ArtsPraxis Volume 4 Issue 1 has been published.
I am proud to present this new issue of ArtsPraxis, featuring articles in response to the guiding questions and themes established for the NYU Forum on Educational Theatre in April 2016, which included applied theatre, drama in education, and theatre for young audiences. As a number of authors submitted articles under the heading of youth theatre, I curated a stand-alone section for this topic as well as I felt it wise to highlight the breadth of research in this area at this time.
A great asset of the 2016 Forum on Educational Theatre was the degree to which the NYU Program in Educational Theatre was able to reconnect with our global community. In large part, this was due to the efforts of Philip Taylor following his experience at the International Drama in Education Research Institute in Singapore in 2015. Under the direction of Prue Wales, it became evident at that event that even in this time of inescapable electronic connections, there is nothing that can take the place of face-to-face fellowship. Just this week, we are coming off of our latest international conference, the NYU Forum on Ethnodrama, looking at the intersection between theatre art and arts-based research paradigms. After many months of political duress, we communed. We shared art, research, and activism.
In the spirit of maintaining our international dialogue in these troubled times, this issue of ArtsPraxis continues the conversation. Our contributors present scholarship from Africa, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. I hope that you find this work as inspirational as I have and that you consider joining us next spring at the 2018 NYU Forum on Performance as Activism.
Volume 3, Issue 1 of ArtsPraxis is available for download here.
This article outlines a research project investigating the expertise of applied theatre practitioners. Summarising some of the research approaches and findings, a conceptualization of ‘responsivity’ is proposed to encapsulate the blended expertise of those artists that work in community, participatory and applied settings. The ‘practice responsive’ research methodology utilizing ‘reflective dialogues’ with practitioners is explained and the resulting artists’ commentaries are embedded throughout. I outline how reflection and response thread through a conceptualization of applied theatre in literatures, and discuss how these themes informed both the method and the findings of my research. Whilst offering namings for patterns found common to practitioners operating across diverse contexts, the article also acknowledges how naming can close down understanding of the complex operations and qualities of the practitioner. I suggest a theoretical proposition of ‘__’ (underscore) to open up understanding of the workers and the work of applied theatre, in order to allow further insight to their expertise. The proposal concludes by arguing how the practitioners’ developmental response to the work enhances applied theatre’s beneficial objectives for participants.
Traditionally, theatre was created and performed in communities to celebrate religious and other significant aspects of shared community life. Many such customs possessed a quasi-religious identity in which theatre depictions were thought to appease those spiritual forces which controlled the lives and fortunes of mere humans. In the UK and the Western world more generally, the cohesiveness of community life has lessened as families become more self-sufficient. Until relatively recently, rural communities in South West England were dominated by the farming industry. The land of many farms has been merged and the farmhouses sold to relatively well-off incomers. They often operate a self-sufficient life, sending their children to private schools outside the community and engaging in leisure pursuits which take them out of the community in which they live. Thus, community cohesion is weakened and the opportunities for cooperative and communal action lessened. Theatre has the potential to bring disparate members of a community together in common purpose, providing a forum in which new and lasting relationships can be formed. If the dramatised stories have their roots in the identity and history of the community in which they are made, long-term residents have ways of sharing their knowledge with the ‘newcomers’.
This paper discusses the evolution of significant findings made within the context of a doctoral research project and the structures that developed to share these findings through workshops for students and teachers. As the research concerned an 1838 Australian Aboriginal massacre and the construction of a memorial to commemorate this event one hundred and sixty-two years later, the aim of the project was to locate a reconciliation narrative. The project failed to do so, because ultimately in the words of the participants the memorial was seen as a beginning and not an ending.
Nevertheless this understanding did deliver powerful insights into the complex nature of reconciliation within a dominant settler culture. And it was felt that sharing these insights was worth pursuing.
Central to the doctoral research was the creation of a verbatim theatre play, therefore the workshops relied on drama techniques to establish through affect new ways of knowing shared history. However the execution of the content proved challenging. Because of the way settler history continues to be understood, engagement with the intellect via political correctness as opposed to the imagination was problematic. The necessity of prioritizing the imagination became as much of a learning curve for workshop facilitators as workshop participants.
KAITLIN O. K. JASKOLSKI
This paper explores the on-going development of a Drama for Life-Skills project in Lagos, Nigeria, which embraces aspects of applied & educational theatre practices. Using neurodevelopmental disability assessments and standards, the project creates a simultaneous balance of teaching and learning life skills in the disability community. It focuses on work currently being done with students of the Children’s Development Centre Lagos, incorporating theatre practices into the daily living activities of adolescents with disabilities with the goal of gaining increased life skills. In developing their most recent production, Discovering a Planet of Inclusion, members of the Centre team up with teaching artists, therapists and community members to teach, learn, practice and incorporate life skills with theatrical performances designed for schools and community centers throughout Nigeria. Company members with disabilities (including autism, cerebral palsy, and various genetic disorders) perform with the hope of showcasing their abilities, ending stigma, and inspiring opportunities for the disability community throughout the nation. The paper will include anecdotes and analyzation from the performance praxis, development of advocacy and vocationally-based theatre performances, and ways to incorporate disability therapies (occupational, physical, multisensory, communication) into theatrical performances. The paper also discusses the importance of inclusion in destigmatizing disability and the cognitive benefits of applied theatre within communities.
Performance is social theory, or it can become so, when we use it as a means to understand social phenomena rather than merely viewing it as a spectacle or for entertainment (Brook, 1972). Theatre that explores domestic violence (Welsh, 2014), homelessness (Welsh, 2014) or the plight of refugees (Robinson, 2015) are all examples of dramatic processes becoming social theory. There are many more examples such as the work of Lloyd Jones or Pina Bausch, both of whom use experimental theatre as a means of educating, understanding and criticising society (Marshall, 2002; Pendergast, 2001). This article explores the relationship between theatre and education in three somewhat diverse contexts. Firstly, the autobiographical monologue, The Outcaste Weakly Poet Stage Show, describes experience in a conversational style. Experience and conversation are inevitably educational, that is, being is learning and listening is learning. Secondly, I explore the practice of monologue writing with a sample group of Australian school students on the subject of social labelling, reinforcing the idea that theatre practice is education by applying it to a classroom setting. Finally, I examine a monologue writing workshop conducted with a group of teachers-in-training, revealing the potential of monologues to foster empathy among teachers and their most difficult students. Theatre then becomes a source of learning and philosophical reflection for audiences, a way of practising social learning in a school setting and increasing emotional intelligence, empathy and communication between teachers in training and their students.
JESSICA M. KAUFMAN
Dramaturgy is often considered the work of the ‘neutral outside eye’, but in devised theatre, the dramaturg is embedded within. This requires creative solutions for how a devising dramaturg might navigate engagement with the totality of their work—the piece, the devising process, and the context—from their own position within all three. In this article, I will recount and re-examine my work as dramaturg-researcher devising Martha and the Event Horizon. The research inquiry suggests a praxis of dramaturgy-as-research inspired by Home-Cook’s model of noise as a function of attention and Sullivan’s (2003) poststructuralist analysis of queerness as both being and doing, wherein the devising dramaturg embodies the queer doing to take an external perspective on their work via the critical context. Examinations of the devisor’s relationship to spectators by practitioner-researchers Goode (2011) and Reason (2010) respond to the research question and suggest a non-linear model within which the audience experiences meaning through Boenisch’s (2010) reflexive parallax. Placing these research outcomes within Bryon’s (2014) ‘active aesthetic’ and Nelson’s (2013) practice as research model, I propose the dramaturgy-as-research praxis as the key to a rigorous, flexible framework for constructing diverse avenues for meaning-making in devised theatre, particularly applicable to audience-driven work.
There are several theories as to what constitutes children’s theatre. This diversity exists because the term is used as a literal description of theatre that involves children in one way or the other – theatre for children, theatre with children, and theatre by children. This complexity means there is a need to specify the sense in which the term is being used. There is no universal agreement within academic discourse on the parameters in which the term should be defined. While some scholars suggest age as a defining factor, others think it should be decided by the performers who design a piece of theatre based on their knowledge of the children audience. What is children’s theatre? What should be the level of involvement for children? This paper is not a systematic review of the discipline and it is not an attempt to re/define children’s theatre. Rather, it is about a pedagogical approach to creating a piece of theatre for children between the age of 4 and 10 that can enable them to learn and be morally developed while being entertained at the same time. In this paper children’s theatre is the term that will be used throughout.
This auto-ethnographic inquiry explores found and constructed apparatuses in the production of a devised clown show with 3rd-6th grade children at Blue School in New York City. Through a playful negotiation between artifacts, theory, and memory, this essay works to untangle the production of meaning and the possibilities of children’s theatre. Drawing from Agamben’s theorizations of apparatus, Hammoor writes into knowing and understanding the frameworks he built and discovered in directing a sad clown show with children.
In this paper the notion of a participatory aesthetic is developed by exploring how a collaborative and creative process provides opportunities for young people to engage in an act of becoming in relation to one another, building powerful and affective art work that is not bound by the conventions of traditional forms of theatre and art making. The paper begins with a discussion on the role of affect and participation in applied theatre, offering a theoretical framework that is used to analyze two case studies. The first is a project in Accra, Ghana that resulted in a youth-led documentary film about HIV/AIDS and gender relationships. The second is a YouTube based applied theatre project with LGBTQ youth in Toronto, Canada. In both case studies the paper demonstrates the power of dialogue in building a participant driven aesthetic rendering of theatre for social change. The paper concludes stating that a participatory aesthetic is a deeply visceral and vulnerable encounter that builds important pedagogy through affective artistic engagement.
As an arts educator, it is inspiring to have access to the spoils of the art of musical theatre to engage and captivate young minds and artistic hearts. In providing an artistic output, one affords both the satisfaction of involvement in a collaborative art coupled with the lasting gift of community and artistic inspiration. Regrettably, the endeavour towards providing an accessible dramatic medium can prove challenging for the best of theatre & music pedagogues and artists alike. Musical theatre becomes increasingly more difficult as both musical and dramatic requirements needed for its execution modify.
With these constraints, youth face obstacles in exploring many works of the genre they love faithfully. As educators, the responsibility in maintaining accessibility is tremendous. Improper attention to the usage of the vocal instrument without regard of these developments can cause irreparable damage. Limited access to works for youth and negligible adaptation risk staleness and disinterest.
How might the educating artist continually provide an accessible medium of musical theatre to the young performer? From a dramatic & musical lens, this paper discusses the responsibility of the educator in identifying and addressing the unique challenges confronting young performers via the art of musical theatre.
ArtsPraxis Volume 4, Issue 1 looks to engage members of the global Educational Theatre community in the ongoing dialogue about where we have been and where we are going. This call for papers was released concurrently with ArtsPraxis Volume 3 and the submission deadline for Volume 4, Issue 1 was February 1, 2017.
Amy Cordileone, New York University, USA
Norifumi Hida, Toho Gakuen College of Drama and Music, Japan
Byoung-joo Kim, Seoul National University of Education, South Korea
Ross Prior, University of Wolverhampton, UK
Nisha Sajnani, New York University, USA
Daphnie Sicre, Borough of Manhattan Community College, USA
Prudence Wales, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Hong Kong
James Webb, Bronx Community College, USA
NYU Steinhardt’s Program in Educational Theatre has named Laurie Brooks and Johnny Saldaña the recipients of the 2017 Swortzell Innovator Awards, which recognize outstanding contributions and sustained service to the field of educational theatre.
The Swortzell Innovator Awards were established in 2016 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Program in Educational Theatre and honor its visionary founders, the late Lowell and Nancy Swortzell. The inaugural award winners were Lynda Zimmerman, Rebecca Brown Adelman, Trent Norman, and Jay DiPrima.
“The Program in Educational Theatre is thrilled to bestow Laurie Brooks and Johnny Saldaña with the Swortzell Innovator Award not only for their exceptional work in the field, but to honor their ongoing commitment to actively sharing their high quality expertise with others,” said David Montgomery, director of the Program in Educational Theatre at NYU Steinhardt.
Johnny Saldaña has been named the winner of the 2017 Swortzell Innovator Award for outstanding and sustained service to the field of ethnodrama and qualitative research. Saldaña will be presented with his award at the NYU Forum on Ethnodrama, which takes place April 21-22, 2017.
Saldaña is professor emeritus from Arizona State University’s School of Film, Dance, and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. He has authored, co-authored, and edited eight books on qualitative research and ethnodrama including Longitudinal Qualitative Research: Analyzing Change Through Time and Ethnotheatre: Research from Page to Stage.
Saldaña’s works have been cited and referenced in more than 4,300 research studies conducted in over 120 countries in disciplines such as education, medicine and health care, technology and social media, business and economics, government and social services, fine arts, social sciences, human development, and communication.
Laurie Brooks has been named the winner of the 2017 Swortzell Innovator Award for outstanding and sustained service to the field of Theatre for Young Audience. Brooks’ award will be presented at the 20th anniversary of NYU’s New Plays for Young Audiences, which takes places June 10-25, 2017.
Brooks is an award-winning playwright and fiction author. She has received numerous awards and grants including TCG National Theatre Artists Residency Program (The Coterie Theatre), AT&T FirstStage award, three Distinguished Play Awards and Charlotte Chorpenning Cup from American Alliance for Theatre and Education, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Irish Arts Council Grants (Graffiti Theatre Company). Brooks’ Lies and Deceptions Quartet for young adults includes The Wrestling Season, commissioned by The Coterie Theatre, developed at New Visions/New Voices, and featured at The Kennedy Center’s One Theatre World 2000. Additional award-winning plays include Deadly Weapons, The Tangled Web, and The Riddle Keeper, commissioned by Graffiti Theatre in Ireland; Selkie: Between Land and Sea, developed at New Visions/New Voices; Brave No World and Jason Invisible, commissioned by and premiered at The Kennedy Center; Devon’s Hurt, The Match Girl’s Gift, A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas, Franklin’s Apprentice, The Lost Ones, Triangle, Atypical Boy, and All of Us.
Brooks has been an assistant professor, playwright in residence, and literary manager for NYU’s New Plays for Young Audiences. She has served as playwright in residence for the HYPE Institute at The Alley Theatre in Houston, artist in residence at Arizona State University, and has taught at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and The University of Texas at Austin.
Brooks’ new play, Now Comes the Dust, will be staged at New Plays for Young Audiences in June, where she will also be part of a 20th anniversary roundtable event and panel discussion to explore emergent directions in writing and producing works.