Up and Away: “One of the Hottest Tickets in Town”

October was very much the Up and Away month. Previously featured in The New York Times, the immersive theatrical production has been enjoying extraordinary success and gained exciting media attention.

On October 4, WCBS-TV’s Diane Macedo interviewed Lincoln Center Education Executive Director Russell Granet and Trusty Sidekick’s Artistic Director Jonathan Shmidt Chapman (both alumni from the Program in Educational Theatre). A week later, Laura Collins-Hughes in The New York Times reviewed Up and Away in its Theater section. The review was glowingly positive, stating that “generosity and gentleness of spirit may be the two most striking features of… this joyous new show.” The reviewer also took note of Up and Away’s painstaking attention to technical detail. “[This] multisensory experience is a stellar example of how to connect with an underserved audience by identifying obstacles… Every element of the show has been made with the audience in mind, from the warm, tuneful greeting in the lobby…to the set’s walls.”

On October 23, WNBC Nightly News featured a segment on what it called “one of the hottest tickets in town for a theater experience unlike any other.” WNBC and anchor Anne Thompson interviewed Mr. Chapman and Mr. Granet and focused the camera on the performance, with its visibly enchanted audience and a deeply moved mother who fought back tears to say: “It’s so nice to go someplace… where you’re welcome.”

Up and Away is not merely a show that makes the effort to accommodate a special audience, but an experience entirely designed for that audience. Two years of thoughtful observation and work with students on the autism spectrum were a part of the development process, and in that sense, Up and Away was designed by the audience.

Click here to learn more about Up and Away.

Posted on | Posted in Alumni News |

Tales of the Lost Formicans – Last Chance

#NYUformicans has four performances remaining. Get your tickets now!

Congratulations to the cast, crew, and director, Nan Smithner, of the spectacular Tales of the Lost Formicans. I’ve just come from the first of our two student matinees which had our audience emotionally engaged with a family on the brink and thoroughly entertained with songs, 80s costumes, and an especially physical performance from an ensemble of aliens. They sing; they dance; they narrate; they abduct–this production is not to be missed! And with the Halloween festivities coming this weekend, I might encourage you to get into the spirit with your own 80s flavored ensemble so that you too can travel back in time with us. – Jonathan Jones


Four performances remain:
Thursday, October 29 – 8PM
Friday, October 30 – 8PM
Saturday, October 31 – 8PM
Sunday, November 1 – 3PM


Tales of the Lost Formicans logo

Q&A with Constance Congdon

While preparing the resource guide for our upcoming production of Tales of the Lost Formicans, Jonathan Jones sent some questions to playwright, Constance Congdon.

What was your inspiration when you wrote TALES OF THE LOST FORMICANS?

I don’t believe in inspiration, altho’ it has been known to strike WHILE I’m writing and sometimes it’s good. I had just come off of a huge adaptation project and decided that my next play would be for me. I also had started thinking about what culture was I from? Well, I’m from Formica.

What are you hoping teenage audiences, or any audience, will take away from seeing this play?

I hope any audience member would enjoy and be moved by it. It’s about transience.

As you celebrate the 25th anniversary of the publication of the play, has its meaning changed over time?

You know, it has remained a true picture of this time in which we are living.

What advice would you give to young people interested in a future career as a playwright?

First of all, “career” is the wrong word. Would you talk about someone’s career as a poet? Playwriting is a calling. What to do? Just write plays and don’t judge them. Enjoy your own work. Genius is just doing your work on a particularly lucky day. Persistance. And fun.

Do you have other plays that may be appropriate for young audiences?

They are published by Smith and Kraus and are in the many volumes that Craig Slaight of the Young Conservatory of American Conservatory Theater has published over the years. He’s gotten many major playwrights to write for young audiences. Mine are:  MOONTEL SIX; THE AUTOMATA PIETA; NIGHTENGALES.

Tales of the Lost Formicans opens Friday night, October 23. Tickets can be purchased at the event website.

Tales of the Lost Formicans poster

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:

1972 Advertisement for Study Abroad Programs at NYU School of EducationThe 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 Study Abroad website.





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

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 the Astor Fellows website or send email.
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 installation using provided objects on the theme of childhood. Here are some images of the playwrights and their installations.

Image of one artist with her installation. Image of Tasha Grant with her installation. Image of Liz Lozada with her installation. Image of Ashley Hamilton introducing the performances.an installation.

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.

Hamlet cast picture.

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.

Hamlet image - Laertes and Hamlet.

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.

Hamlet image - Hamlet and Ophelia.

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.

Hamlet image - the ghost.