Lowell and Nancy Swortzell Theatre Arts Collection, Child Drama Collection, Arizona State University

In preparation for the 50th Anniversary of the Program and the 2016 Forum in Educational Theatre, we are working hard on a special project: a timeline of 50 years in Educational Theatre. When completed, this timeline will live on the Educational Theatre website. For now, we would like to draw your attention to one of our resources: the Lowell and Nancy Swortzell Theatre Arts Collection, Child Drama Collection, Arizona State University. About 15 years ago, Lowell and Nancy Swortzell donated all of their papers, pictures, pamplets, etc. to the Child Drama Collection at Arizona State University to preserve the legacy, not only of our innovative founders, but also of our Program, the first of its kind in the world. This way, researchers will have access to materials documenting the history of our Program in perpetuity. A number of these images will be featured in the timeline, but here are a preview of what’s to come:

The Bystander: A Portrait of Apathy

By Suzanne Sweeney, MA ’01

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

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

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

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

Study Abroad: Puerto Rico

This flier is from our 1972 summer course:

The Program in Educational Theatre’s connection with Puerto Rico began in 1967, our first academic year, when The Dancing Donkey toured there. Following the success of the Caribbean tour, the Program offered summer study in Puerto Rico beginning in 1971. More recently, our study in San Juan has moved to the January term, where we have been offering a course in community engaged theatre for ten years. If you are interested in applying for January, 2016, the time is now.

For information on applying, visit the link below.






Left to Right: Nancy Swortzell, Myrna Casas, Lowell Swortzell, and Rosa Luisa Marquez at the University of Puerto Rico, circa 2000

Arts Education Down Under – Astor Fellows: All-Expense-Paid International Travel for New York City Teachers

NYU Steinhardt invites applications to its third annual Astor International Travel Fellowship for New York City Teachers, an all-expense-paid travel opportunity for teachers with at least three years of teaching experience. NYU Steinhardt’s focus on culture, education and human development, has transformed education for social change for more than 125 years. We are a proud sponsor of this opportunity, made possible through the generous gift of Mrs. Brooke Astor, philanthropist and supporter of New York City public school teachers.

This year we will select a cohort of 12 teachers through a competitive application process to explore the theme, “Arts Education Down Under” in Sydney, Australia for ten days this coming summer. Teachers of art, music, and drama are especially encouraged to apply for this year’s program, but all applicants will be considered. Educators will learn about arts education initiatives from leading Australian arts educators; participate in workshops on teaching artistry, curriculum planning, and assessment; and observe arts education in Australian classrooms. Visits to cultural sites in and around Sydney are also planned.

Join us on October 16, 4:00-8:00pm for a symposium featuring our 2015 Astor Fellows, as they present about their experience exploring “Special Education Beyond Borders” in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The symposium will take place at NYU Steinhardt’s Pless Hall, 82 Washington Square East, 1st Floor Lounge. Click here to RSVP.

LEARN MORE ABOUT ASTOR FELLOWS – Please visit our program web page to learn more about the program or join our mailing list to learn about future opportunities.

LEARN MORE ABOUT STUDY ABROAD FOR EDUCATORS – NYU Steinhardt offers a variety of graduate-level study abroad programs each summer and professionals are welcome to apply. See our program list for information on costs, dates, and how to apply.

Please share this flyer with colleagues at your school.

Zachary Klim, Director of Global Affairs
New York University
Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

Visit http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/global/astorfellows
Write astor.fellows@nyu.edu
Call 212-992-9380
Follow @steinhardtgbl #astorfellows


Instant Gratification – Fall 2015

We kicked off our annual performance season with Instant Gratification, our 24-hour play festival. This year, the playwrights were asked to create an instillation using provided objects on the theme of childhood. Here are some images of the playwrights and their installations.

Looking for Shakespeare 2015: Reflections on Hamlet

By Carly McGehee

“Who’s there?”, this famous line, which marks the opening of Hamlet, was indeed the question on my mind as I began my journey along with 13 fellow graduate students and 20 high school students from all over the country in Looking for Shakespeare. As a professional actor, I have spent many years studying and performing Shakespeare, but had yet to be involved with a production with high school students. I was excited to learn about, and from, this diverse group of students and anxious to learn who they were. What I did not expect, however, was vast knowledge I would gain from observing and working among my fellow graduate students.

Much like the high school ensemble, the Graduate students came from all walks of life. Some were experienced theatre teachers, others, like myself, were just beginning the road to becoming educators. Many had extensive backgrounds in performing, while others had vast knowledge in Shakespeare as dramatic literature.

The hours were long. Some days were harder than others. I found myself constantly second guessing myself. In those moments of uncertainty, I turned to my colleagues and was met with support and advice. What I thought were classmates soon turned  into mentors and friends. It was in these moments of confusion that I took a step back, listened, observed, and discovered a part of myself that would still be lost if not for those trying times.

None of these learning moments would have happened without our director and professor, Jonathan Jones. He recognized the diverse and rich talents amongst our group and utilized them to the fullest potential. His gentle guidance helped each of us discover a new part of who we are as educators, and produced a piece of art that we, high school and graduate school alike, had never before experienced.

Applied Theatre in Prisons

RTA Performance at Bedford Hills Maximum Security Prison for Women (Ashley Hamilton – 1st row, center; Clare Hammoor – 2nd row, far right); Photo courtesy of RTA

By Ashley Hamilton

“When I am doing this work, creating art, for just a little while I get to forget that I am in prison” (Bedford Hills Maximum Security Prison Devising Theatre Participant). My work found me, before I found it. My first introduction to working in the prison system, using the arts as a rehabilitative tool, came prior to even starting my master’s degree in Educational Theatre (EDTC) at NYU, long before I understood what the field of “applied theatre” was. Through a serendipitous chain of events, I secured my first teaching artist gig using writing and theatre inside the New York City juvenile jail system. I had no real training, but I felt deeply drawn to the work of being inside of the walls with folks who were yearning for expression, I knew even then that something transformative was occurring.

As you may know, the Educational Theatre program has a long standing, collaborative relationship with Rehabilitation through the Arts (RTA) – an organization that uses arts practices in various New York State Prisons in order to work toward the rehabilitation of incarcerated folks. In the first year of the PhD program, I had the opportunity to assist Dr. Nancy Smithner in teaching a Physical Theatre class, along with master’s student Melissa Sonia (now an alumni) at Bedford Hills Maximum Security Prison for Women. Soon after, I had the opportunity to co-teach a six-month long Devising Theatre course, alongside Clare Hammoor (an EDTC alumni) at Bedford Hills. Clare and I created the class to explore various socially minded themes through movement and writing. Then, after a particularly salient theme emerged from our exploration, we continued on to write a play through a physical and writing based devising process. The class culminated with a performance of the mounted play for the remaining prison population. After months of writing, devising, and rehearsing we had created a play about the contradictions of womanhood inside prison walls. The play interrogated themes of body image, beauty, motherhood, self-sustainment, sexuality and gender.

The women wrote from raw and deep places, clearly craving an opportunity to tell their stories. Throughout the course, Clare and I found ourselves constantly reflecting on several themes but specifically; our roles as facilitators, boundaries, the role of therapy in applied theatre, and emotional safety and wellness. The deeper we went into the work, the more questions and contradictions emerged. The women’s final performance was met with compassion and grace by the prison population as they echoed that they shared very similar experiences and deeply appreciated the vulnerability of their peers. And, Clare and I walked away from that experience stretched emotionally, mentally, and physically, but with so many more questions than when we began.

RTA Performance at Bedford Hills Maximum Security Prison for Women; Photo courtesy of RTA

Currently, Clare and I are co-facilitating a “Life Skills through Acting” class at Fishkill Correctional Facility for Men, a very different yet just as complex experience. We are only a few weeks into the class, and I am already finding that my questions, thoughts and general reflective practice is just as prevalent, but is more centered on questions of gender and aesthetic distance. I am fascinated by the immediate difference I have found in working with men versus women, and by the way I find myself (as a white, cis-gendered woman) performing gender and race in this hyper-masculine, racialized space.



Regina Ress Honored for Outstanding Contributions by The National Storytelling Network

JONESBOROUGH, TN July 23, 2015 – The National Storytelling Network (NSN www.storynet.org) awarded Regina Ress the NSN ORACLE Mid-Atlantic Regional Excellence Award. This award recognizes the creativity, professional integrity, and artistic contributions of tellers who have greatly enriched the storytelling culture of their region.

Regina Ress, storyteller, actor, author, and educator, has told stories across the US and abroad in English and Spanish, in schools and international festivals, in prisons and parks, homeless shelters and the White House. One of her many programs, Compassion, Generosity, and Grace, was created after she witnessed the 9/11 attack in NYC and participated in the response that day and thereafter.

She teaches storytelling for NYU’s Program in Educational Theatre as well as the Multilingual/Multicultural Studies Program and she produces a long-running storytelling series for NYU at the historic Provincetown Playhouse.

Her CD “New York and Me” won a 2014 Storytelling World Honor. She previously received the NSN ORACLE for Service and Leadership – Mid Atlantic Region in 2003.

Ress received her Oracle award at the National Storytelling Awards Ceremony on Saturday, August 1, 2015 at the National Storytelling Conference in Kansas City.  For more information, see www.reginaress.com .

Brooke Astor International Fellowship

Professor Philip Taylor has secured the Brooke Astor International Travel Fellowship for New York City Teachers. A generous gift from the Astor Estate to NYU Steinhardt has resulted in public school teachers studying special education in Argentina (2015) and science education in China (2014). Next summer, the third year of the Fellowship, 10-12 public school teachers will experience “Arts Education Downunder.” The program will be based at NYU’s Sydney campus with a site visit to Melbourne. All principal expenses are covered by the award. The Astor Fellows need to have three years of full time teaching experience and be committed to global education. Keep watching this space for application details, but in the meantime do read more about this glorious gift.

Welcome to Fall 2015

I am delighted to welcome new and returning students to the Program in Educational Theatre. As my colleagues Philip Taylor, Nancy Smithner, Joe Salvatore, Amy Cordileone, Jonathan Jones and I recently discussed, this past academic year and summer really flew by. What an incredible year it has been for the Educational Theatre community!

We experienced a superb fall and spring with academic courses in our three areas of concentrated study: drama education, applied theatre, and play production for artists and educators. Our diverse work in community sites continued to exhibit the ways in which our program is involved in important urban and global endeavors. Many students getting certified to teach drama were mentored in NYC schools through student-teaching—learning to plan, implement and evaluate drama; teams of students created applied theatre, including our prison theatre initiative, tackling a range of social justice issues; various theatre of the oppressed events were facilitated; directors’ scenes were presented weekly; and the program’s production season produced remarkable theatre.

In the fall, just in time for Halloween, Little Shop of Horrors showcased wonderful student actors and singers, and in the spring, six new plays by Joe Salvatore were featured in In Real Time, with student directors assigned to each play. This culminated in an evening of engaging and thought-provoking theatre.  Our own Theatrix! project continued to profile new works by our students and provide rich opportunities for them to develop their theatre-making skills, while our Shakespeare to Go (STG) troupe brought their one-hour cut of Taming of the Shrew to schools throughout the city. Meanwhile, students involved in two Steinhardt student clubs, the Uproar Theatre Corp and Lamplighters, both founded by educational theatre students, impressively developed and produced full scale productions.

In January, many students studied physical theatre and mask work in Puerto Rico, with Dr. Amy Cordileone leading the program, and our annual storytelling performances, produced and curated by Regina Ress, featured six incredible storytellers from around the world telling stories at the Provincetown Playhouse (including Regina herself).  In February, we were thrilled to accept our first two students to our brand new Doctorate of Education program, the EdD. And our annual forum, the 2015 Forum on Site-Specific Performance, was unforgettable as it offered interdisciplinary panels, performances and workshops with established art makers, emerging artists, and university students to explore site-specific work that developed nuanced relationships between spectators and space.

The 2015 summer’s two on-campus projects, New Plays for Young Audiences (NPYA) and Looking for Shakespeare (LFS), were met with great success as well.  For its 18th season, NPYA presented three new works: Mario and the Comet that Stopped the World, Book and Lyrics by Gabriel Jason Dean, Music and Lyrics by David Dabbon; Nadine’s Coloring Book by Ashley Laverty; and Forever Poppy by José Cruz González. Keeping with the goals of the Program in Educational Theatre, the NPYA series effectively offered both students and theatre professionals the opportunity to test new ideas and methods within the field of TYA. It was a thrilling collaborative process that segued beautifully into the LFS program under the leadership of Dr. Jonathan Jones. The intensive four-week program for high school students from across the country worked with Dr. Jones as director, as well as an artistic team and 13 graduate students, to present Hamlet. It was truly inspiring to witness the dedicated collective of artists, educators and students work together to produce an outstanding production. Also, adding to the stimulating suite of summer offerings on campus was an intensive two-day course with renowned teacher/scholar Dr. Cecily O’Neill on Teacher in Role.  Finally, following the success of the summer 2014 London Study Abroad program under the leadership of Dr. Philip Taylor, in 2015 NYU students studied in our Dublin program led by Dr. Nancy Smithner, working with Ireland’s finest drama practitioners and theatre artists to study community-engaged theatre and explore facilitation, devising, and playwriting/adaptation, along with approaches to using dramatic activities to create context for theatre work.

Looking ahead, this exciting work continues and will be available to everyone, including opportunities to participate in classroom and applied theatre settings, a wide-range of course offerings, main stage productions, Theatrix, STG, NPYA, LFS, Puerto Rico (and our London study abroad offering that will return in 2016), student club productions, storytelling events and next year’s April, 2016 forum—among many other projects.

Speaking of which, the 2016 forum will celebrate fifty years of leadership and artist praxis in Educational Theatre at NYU. As one of the world’s premier academies of excellence, our Program was founded in 1966 by the late innovators Lowell and Nancy Swortzell, graduating over five thousand students who have assumed authoritative positions in cultural institutions, colleges and schools, community centers and other agencies worldwide. For our 2016 annual forum, the Program will build on the Swortzell’s vision, as well as the work of previous annual NYU Forums on curriculum, assessment, teaching artistry, playwriting, ethnodrama, Shakespeare, citizenship, and site specific theatre, by inviting the global community to propose workshops, papers, posters, narratives, and performances around drama in education, applied theatre, theatre for young audiences and play production. Also for the fiftieth anniversary, an alumni event will be held celebrating the achievements of the program. It will undoubtedly be a magnificent evening as colleagues and friends reunite and share classic moments of their time studying at NYU. So keep a lookout for further information to be posted on our Educational Theatre list-serve about this fiftieth anniversary celebration that you won’t want to miss.

– David Montgomery, PhD