Student and Alumni Updates – 2018

Aisha Abdelmula, BS, 2014

After NYU, Aisha acquired an EdM in Student Affairs Administration to promote better access of underrepresented people in higher education. She uses her creative sprit to engage students as a social justice educator at Columbia University and is a writer, model, and personal stylist when she finds the time.

Isaiah Bent, MA, 2016

Isaiah continues to teach theatre at PS 206 in Rego Park, Queens. He loves his job and takes pride in presenting a yearly Shakespeare production with his fifth graders.

Andrea Bertola Shaw, MA, 2010

Andrea is currently the Artistic Director of the New York Film Shop. Her team has won numerous awards for their short films at national film festivals. She is currently directing a documentary that will be released in 2019. In addition to her film work, Andrea continues to work as a freelance website designer.

Samantha Bessudo Drucker, BS, 1994

Samantha is an image consultant, columnist, lifestyle personality, speaker, host and actress who uses dramatic constructs and humor with her clients, readership and audience. She is currently developing new media projects.

Micaela Blei, MA, 2004; PhD, 2018

Micaela does a lot of personal storytelling lately—including Moth shows, her solo storytelling show, an episode of the Panoply podcast “Family Ghosts” last year. She just finished her PhD in Ed Theatre, and she is the Director of Community and Education Programs at The Moth.

Brooke Boertzel, MA, 2005

Brooke has worked as Director of Education at New York City Children’s Theater, formerly named Making Books Sing, since 2007. She is also on the board of the NYC Arts and Education Roundtable. This summer, Brooke is transitioning into consulting work, specializing in curriculum development, arts integration, and trauma-informed training.

Tova Bomzer Halpern, MA, 2009

After working for 2 years as an independent teaching artist, Tova founded 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. Fresh Theatre Arts is currently serving communities throughout New Jersey.

Steve Borowka, MA, 2002

Steve is the Chair of the Performing Arts Department and Theater teacher at Friends Seminary a K-12 school in NYC. He also owns and operates Acting Manitou—a theater camp in Oakland, Maine.

Jenna Briedis, BS, 2014

Jenna currently works at Warner Brothers in Domestic Television Distribution. She plans to pursue a lifelong career in the Film and Television industry.

Cheryl Brumley, MA, 2017

Upon graduation from Ed Theatre, Cheryl accepted a position with Campbellsville University as a full-time faculty member teaching theatre and is happy to report the completion of her first year!

Kristopher Casey, MA, 2018

Kris is a brand new graduate and is currently the Center Director for the NY Kids Club, Battery Park.

Sarah Chichester, MA, 2013

Sarah has directed shows Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, regionally, and internationally in Israel since finishing her MA. She’s spent the past year teaching as an Instructor of Record at Southern Illinois University.

Amber Grace Collins-Ives, BS, 2015

Amber is going on her third year out in Los Angeles working as an Actress, Writer, and Production Designer.

Andrew Coopman, MA, 2015

After graduating from NYU and doing the Dublin Study Abroad program, Andrew moved to Seattle, Washington where he works as a full-time director and teaching artist for many of the major local theaters, including Village Theater, 5th Avenue Theater, and Seattle Children’s Theater. Up next, Andrew will be attending the University of Washington to get his MFA in Directing through the Professional Director Training Program.

Liana Costable, BS, 2016

Liana is a proud member of Actors Equity with credits such as Sally in the 1st national tour of A Charlie Brown Christmas, Jenny in Theatreworks USA’s national tour of Click Clack Moo  and Lucy in A Music Box Christmas at the Hershey Theater. In between performance contracts, Liana works as a teaching assistant at Broadway Workshop.

Jessica Cressionnie, MA, 2017

Jessica is finishing her first year teaching elementary theatre at P.S. 94 The Henry Longfellow in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. This summer, she will be returning to Camp Tel Noar in New Hampshire as the Head of Drama where she and her staff will produce three musicals in seven weeks.

Jeanine DeFalco, MA, 2012

Jeanine is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow with the Army Research Laboratory, Human Research & Engineering Directorate, assigned to the United States Military Academy. Research includes motivational feedback in game-based training, and creative reasoning on accelerated learning. Jeanine received a PhD in Psychology, Cognitive Studies (concentration: Intelligent Technologies) from Columbia University, Fall 2017.

Jim DeVivo, MA, 2001; PhD, 2018

Jim is Director of Education at Writers Theatre of NJ, part-time theatre teacher at Lacey Township High School, and adjunct instructor of TYA for the Program in Educational Theatre. He is researching the history of youth playwriting in the US and abroad. Jim and Bridget (MA, 2001) live down the Jersey shore with three children.

Gaspare DiBlasi, MA, 2014

Gaspare currently teaches K-5 Theater at P.S.217 in Brooklyn, New York.

Jason Diminich, BS, 2005

Jason is the Education Director for Think 360 Arts for Learning in Denver, Colorado.

Sheng-Tao Fan, MA, 2008

Sheng-Tao has been working at National Taiwan Normal University where he mainly teaches Theatre in Education as well as Arts and Business Cooperation. Dr. Fan is published in international journals such as The Journal of Drama and Theatre Education in Asia. Dr. Fan is so thankful for the NYU Educational Theatre community and faculty.

Diane Feldman, MA, 2001

In addition to operating her educational musical theatre company (year 32), Diane is completing her seventh year as the award-winning Director of Drama, Musical Theatre & Vocal Performance at de Toledo High School in West Hills, California. Several of her productions have received Outstanding Production Awards from both The Jerry Herman Awards and National Youth Arts.

Mitalene Fletcher, MA, 1997

Mitalene earned her doctorate at Steinhardt in International Development Education in 2008. Since that time, she has been developing executive education programs at Harvard Graduate School of Education and volunteering as a mediator in a Boston municipal court.

Christine Fuchs, MA, 2012

Christine is a full-time theatre Instructor at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Georgia. She earned her MFA in Acting at Northern Illinois University in 2016.

Nicole Gebler, MA, 2016

Nicole is currently teaching grades K-5 at Riverhead Charter School on Long Island. RCS takes great pride in the arts and is pleased to have Nicole on board as they expand their theater program to middle school and a brand new high school starting in the year 2020.

Lisa Goldberg, MA, 2004

Since graduating from NYU, Lisa has been working at Trevor Day School where she serves as Director of Auxiliary Programs. She oversees the after school program, music conservatory, and camp. She also assists in helping choreograph the 4th and 5th grade musical and concerts. She is happily married with two daughters ages 9 and 7.

Honey Goodenough, MA, 2005

Honey is the Resident Teaching Artist at Puppet Showplace Theater near Boston, Massachusetts. She founded Good Hearted Entertainment and tours an original puppet shows, including a literacy based puppet show called Word Play throughout schools and theaters.

Robert Reid Goodson, MA, 2013

Robert is honored to be named the A.C. Reynolds High School Teacher of the Year.

Megan Ibarra, MA, 2016

Megan has been teaching theatre at an elementary school, building the theatre program to include: multicultural theatre, story drama, play writing, Shakespeare, and puppetry. She has enjoyed building relationships with students and seeing them grow in speaking skills, confidence, and expressing themselves.

Laura Josepher, MA, 1990

Laura recently directed Godspell for the American Musical Theatre Academy (AMTA). With partner, David Sisco, she runs ContemporaryMusicalTheatre.com, a subscription site for musical theatre songs. Last year they published the book, Mastering College Musical Theatre Auditions: Sound Advice for the Student, Teacher, and Parent available on Amazon.

Emily Kaczmarek, BS, 2012

Emily is a playwright and librettist. She has developed work at theatres across the country and held residencies at the O’Neill, Goodspeed, Orchard Project, and SPACE on Ryder Farm. She is a 2018 Jonathan Larson Grant winner and a Kleban Prize finalist, and is engaged to her writing partner, composer Zoe Sarnak.

Jennifer Kapitan, MA, 2005

Jennifer has been teaching elementary school since the fall of 2005. She currently teaches at PS 506 in Brooklyn.

Sobha Kavanakudiyil, MA, 2013

Sobha is on faculty in the Graduate Program in Educational Theatre at The City College of New York. During her sabbatical this year, she was accepted into the Fulbright Specialist Program, traveling to South Korea and Puebla, Mexico, hosted by Instituto Municipal Arte Y Cultura sharing her love of devising theatre and community building!

Britt Shubow Keshner, MA, 2009

Britt is a full-time drama teacher in Orange, New Jersey. She teaches at Oakwood Avenue Community School and Cleveland Street School. She teaches students from kindergarten through seventh grade. In the summer, Britt is an acting, dance, and vocal instructor at Performers Theater Workshop in Maplewood, New Jersey.

Robin Levenson, PhD, 2007

Robin’s book, Acting Chekhov in Translation: 4 Plays, 100 Ways will be published by Peter Lang International Publishers, Inc. later this year. It was conceived & edited from her dissertation, for which committee members Deborah Borisoff, Nan Smithner, Joanna Rotte, and Lowell Swortzell helped her develop the idea and initial musings.

Elyse Lewis, MA, 2016

Since graduating from NYU, Elyse has been teaching in the NYC DOE. She currently teaches drama to high school students (grades 9-12) at Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics.

Dara K. Marsh, MA, 2007

After completing her MA at NYU, Dara went on to receive her MPA from Baruch College. Though a lover of theater, Dara is currently focused on writing and performing poetry, especially from her two books, Black Man, Black Woman, Black Child and Casualty of Love.

Steven McIntosh, MA, 2008

Steven was a featured speaker at the REMIX Summit NYC this past spring sharing how the education department at BAM is using tech to reach new audiences. He recently joined the Board of Directors of the Jim Henson Foundation.

Christina Neubrand, MA, 2007

Christina is currently a Community School Director in Brooklyn, a Professor at BMCC in the Theatre, Speech and Communications department, and is launching her own public speaking coaching business.

Kimberly Poppiti, PhD, 2003

Kimberly has a new book coming out this year with Routledge, A History of Equestrian Drama in the United States: Hippodrama’s Pure Air and Fire.  She also won a second Greggs Award from the USITT for her 2017 article “Hamilton’s Turntable and Ring Stage.”

Sarah Ripper, MA, 2013

Since graduation, Sarah taught in Brooklyn at Acting Out! and then moved to California to go back to school to receive an MFA in Directing from California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). She has taught at CSUF as well as Orange County School of the Arts, and is the Associate Artistic Director of a new theatre company in Orange County called The Wayward Artist.

Norah Roderick, MA, 2010

Norah continues her work as a teacher and administrator in the afterschool and camp division of LREI in the West Village. Her daughter Juniper will be two this fall and teaches Norah new things every day!

Marisol Santana, MA, 2008

Marisol is the founder of TESOL Drama, an organization providing workshops in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, and Florence instructing teachers how to use drama in the English and EFL classrooms both domestically and abroad (www.tesoldrama.org). Marisol is also a Professor of English at New Jersey City University.

Heidi Schoenenberger, BS, 2011

Heidi was awarded the 2018 Tom Behm Award from Southeastern Theatre Conference. This award will support her to present her research on the impact of live performance for elementary school students in Auckland, New Zealand at the 9th Annual International Drama in Education Research Institute.

Shannon Stoddard, MA, 2018

Shannon is teaching creative drama and directing/choreographing the Children’s Musical Theatre Company with the Community School of the Arts in Fort Smith, Arkansas. She is working with a wide range of students—from preschoolers through high school!

Robert Thaxton-Stevenson, BS, 2013; MA, 2014

Robert is a Brooklyn-based theatre maker and educator. He has worked as a performer or designer with Trusty Sidekick Theater Company, Spellbound Theatre, Bluelaces Theater Company, and Atlantic Pacific Theatre. He is a Teaching Artist with the New Victory Theater, New York Theater Workshop, and the Met Opera Guild.

Kari-Noor Thompson, BS, 2008

A recent graduate of the Ed Theatre Program, Kari-Noor will begin his teaching career as an International Teacher, teaching English and Theatre at an organization is Hangzhou, China in the fall of 2018.

Nicole (Losurdo) Upton, MA, 2005

As Director of Partnerships and Professional Learning at Ingenuity in Chicago, Nicole designs, develops, and delivers 40+ professional learning experiences each year for arts and cultural organizations, teaching artists, and teachers. She develops sector-wide strategies build capacity, strengthen leadership and facilitate collaboration within and among arts organizations and schools.

Christina Zagarino, BS, 2007

Christina lives in Santa Cruz, CA with her husband and cat and is working on kid and family products with Google. She’ll be welcoming her first baby in summer 2018.

Student and Alumni Updates – 2017

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.

Life After NYU: Lucky Disaster

Last year, the blog featured a number of posts from alumni writing about their experiences after graduating from the Program in Educational Theatre. The series continues this year with a post from Megan Minutillo:

Megan Minutillo is an alumni of the Educational Theater program – (ETED M.A. 2009). In October, she will be producing and directing the fourth volume of Lucky Disaster, a concert series that she created.

Lucky Disaster Volume 4 features the music and lyrics of Ryan Scott Oliver, with original monologues inspired by the selected songs written by Anna Ty Bergman, Megan Minutillo, and The Write Teacher(s).

Lucky Disaster Banner

The concert features a cast of recent graduates and current musical theater/acting students – Kerri George, Kasie Gasparini, Melissa Rose Hirsch, Blake Joseph, Angelo McDonough, T.J. Newton, Olivia Polci, Taylor Sorice, and Stephanie Turci, with special guests Gabe Violett and Jessica Vosk!

The Lucky Disaster Concert Series is conceived, produced, and directed by Megan Minutillo, and Lucky Disaster Volume 4 will feature musical direction by Nat Zegree.

Stephanie Turci and Jacob Samuels singing \”Collide\” by Drew Overcash

Additional information about the concert can be obtained by visiting the Cutting Room website.

Keys to Post-graduation Success

By Jennifer Socas, PhD

I was apprehensive when I was first asked to write about how I was able to obtain my current job, however Dr. Taylor felt this would be helpful to students and give them hope in this grueling job market. If my story is helpful and gives people hope, I am overjoyed.  I feel truly fortunate to have recently secured a full-time position in the Theatre and Speech Department at City College (CUNY) and realize I am one of the lucky ones. Each year, doctoral graduates across the nation embark on their journey to find a job within academia. Many of my talented colleagues are still searching, a few have chosen non-academic jobs, and some have also been very lucky to receive fantastic full-time positions within the academy.

Over the years, I have always focused on cultivating the skills and knowledge I needed to create my own niche. During my job search, I thought about what made me unique and valuable and how my particular expertise would fit into a department. I already knew I wanted to focus on international applied theatre work, and I concentrated my practical work and research on that area. I published on applied theatre work, presented at conferences, and built an international applied theatre organization from the ground up, securing an impressive core team and working with them to expand our programming to East Africa and India. I also knew I wanted to be in a theatre department at a university, so I sought out opportunities to teach theatre, teaching theatre history and acting courses, as well as directing for Pace University. While honing my curriculum vitae and interviewing for positions, I highlighted the depth and breadth of my teaching experience with students from a variety of backgrounds, both nationally and internationally.

Another key to my success was taking advantage of all of the opportunities offered at NYU and using them to enhance my skills in theatre, advising, and administrative work. While at NYU, I took advantage of many of the study abroad options, including studying with legendary theatre practitioner, Augusto Boal in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. I also studied mask and physical theatre in Puerto Rico and Applied Theatre in Dublin, Ireland. I assistant taught numerous courses with our distinguished faculty – Advanced Directing and New Student Seminar with Dr. Nan Smithner, and Dissertation Proposal Seminar with Dr. Philip Taylor. When Dr. Pedro Noguera in Teaching and Learning asked if I would be willing to teach Inquiries III with him, I eagerly agreed.  I made sure that I took copious notes and reflected on each experience so it would enhance my practice and inform my work as an educator and theatre artist. When writing from my classes seemed like it could be published, I sought opportunities to have that work published. Finally, I volunteered for as much administrative work as I could make time for – assisting on programs and prospective student advisement as a Graduate Assistant in the Program in Educational Theatre, mentoring and observing students in Theatre Education at Manhattanville College, and working as the Coordinator for Doctoral Studies in Music and Performing Arts.

Mentorship is an extremely important part of the doctoral process. I feel very lucky to have had great mentors during my time at NYU. As my mentor and Chair of my dissertation, Dr. Philip Taylor was a constant source of support and encouragement. He often found opportunities for me to enhance my understanding of applied theatre, such as suggesting I join the program in Brazil with Augusto Boal. He always gave meticulous feedback on my work and research as a scholar in applied theatre, and even serves on the board of my organization, Global Empowerment Theatre. He encouraged my publication efforts, and he is including a chapter from my dissertation in his upcoming book. Dr. Taylor always believed in my success and that I would find the perfect job for my skills and passions. His unwavering belief in me made the process less daunting and gave me the confidence I needed when I went in for my interviews. I was lucky to have wonderful faculty members supporting my work throughout NYU. Dr. Nan Smithner’s expertise in physical theatre and directing, her deep knowledge of feminist theory, and her detailed feedback on my work helped shape my teaching practice and my dissertation. Dr. Pedro Noguera’s insights into public education and education in East Africa were invaluable, as were his recommendations for next steps in publishing and support of my teaching practice both at NYU and elsewhere.

I know I have been very lucky to receive so many wonderful opportunities, but I also was persistent in seeking out those people and experiences that would enrich my practice and studies. Once again, I hope in some small way this may help one of you to better navigate your way through this fantastic, challenging, and exciting journey to a career you love!

Reflections on the Program in Educational Theatre and Beyond

Hello Educational Theatre Blog Readers! My name is Naomi Avadanei, and I graduated from the Undergraduate Program in Educational Theatre this past May (2013). I consider myself very lucky to have found and been a part of the Educational Theatre community for 4 years–those 4 years were filled with so many incredible opportunities, inspiring moments, and (of course) invigorating classes. Upon entering senior year I had to make the ever-so important decision: to go to grad school right away or to take a few years off and apply what I’ve learned in the workforce. Clearly, I decided on the latter.

I started applying to jobs pretty early during my senior year around October/November and didn’t really stop until I got my first teaching job in mid-August. Currently I’m what many would call a “freelance teaching artist.” I work as the Theatre and Movement teacher at Hunter College Elementary School (3 days a week), the Education Associate at TADA! Youth Theatre (4 days a week) and a Teaching Artist with TADA! (several times a month), Brooklyn Children’s Theatre (1 day a week), Salk Middle School (1 day a week) and The Paperbag Players (several times a month). Throughout my application process I would estimate that I applied to over 100 different positions in total. It was a long, arduous, and VERY stressful process, but I’m really happy with the companies I’m working for, the people I’m working with, and the work that I’m doing. It all paid off. When I was applying to jobs I was pretty stubborn about only applying to and accepting positions teaching theatre. In my case this was the most important non-negotiable. I realized I wouldn’t be happy in my chosen career path unless I was working in some respects teaching theatre to kids. As I was applying to positions (and it got closer and closer to the beginning of the school year) I started to have doubts about my non-negotiable. Was I being unrealistic? It turns out that just as I was starting to give up hope, a posting for a Theatre Teacher at Hunter College Elementary School came up on the List Serv (the List Serv is a gold mine–read those emails, they could lead to something!), and I applied. I was offered the position on August 19th, just 23 days before the first day of school. After that I kept getting various Teaching Artist positions from previous connections and interviews and everything sort of just came together. So while my story is unique to my experience, I’d like to share with you some of the things that helped me get where I am now and what I wish I knew/know as I was looking for a job and as I start my first year of teaching Theatre and Movement with students ages 3-12.

Classes (required and not) that you should take (and pay really, really close attention in):

First and foremost, I think this needs to be said because I didn’t figure it out until late in my Junior year/early Senior year. There’s a point in your college career where you have to stop thinking about classes and class work in terms of being a student and getting good grades and start looking at it as preparation for your future career. This may sound really silly but let me explain; I always prided myself on good grades and completing assignments well but often once the assignment was handed in that was it. I forgot about the bulk of the work necessary to complete the assignment (these are the details are really valuable and helpful later on) and moved on. My advice to you is to take those good ideas, great activities, and awesome tools and create a running list (preferredly an organized one). You’ll thank yourself later on. Ask questions in class and complete assignments through the lens of a teacher and an artist, not just a student–you will inevitably get good grades and you’ll make your transition into teaching much easier.

  • Any of the artistry/practical classes (Playwriting, Directing, Physical Theatre, Stagecraft, any Shakespeare Class). Even if you’re not interested in a career in Shakespeare or don’t want to become a playwright it’s important you LEARN about these things so that you’re prepared to TEACH them later on.

  • Dramatic Activities in the Elementary and Secondary Classroom–that running list I was talking about, these classes will be the equivalent of gold for that list.

  • Theory of Creative Drama

  • Some sort of Movement Class–I took Intro to Teaching Creative Movement through the Dance Ed. department. This class will help make you a more dynamic theatre teacher and a more attractive candidate.

Things I wish I had known:

  • Teaching Portfolio

    • Spend a lot of time on it, it’s worth investing the time.

    • Be organized when creating it, you will inevitably print and reprint the material in your portfolio. You will add, you will subtract, you will create new material. Create separate folders and documents for everything.

    • Be pushy about showing your portfolio to your interviewer. I wasn’t always so assertive in presenting my portfolio. For my first few interviews I waited for the interviewer to ask me for it. They didn’t. Assert yourself. Bring your portfolio and gently suggest (read: force) them to look at it. Show them all of the time and effort you put into it. Pick a few highlights to show them–no one will have time to look at the whole thing. Show what’s most relevant to the position.

  • Letters of Recommendation

    • Ask for them even before you need them. Don’t expect people to have a fast turn over. You want the person who is recommending you to take their time and do a good job on your letter so give them the opportunity to do just that. Ask them for the letter 1-2 months before you anticipate needing it.

    • Get a variety of letters: people who have seen you teach (both in the elementary and secondary classroom–if you’re interested in teaching both–you want those letters to be separate so that you can have them ready should you be applying for a position in that area), people who have supervised you in an administrative position, people who have worked with you in an artistic setting etc. You want a variety so you have at least one letter for every type of job you might apply to.

    • This point is similar to the Teaching Portfolio point. Most employers won’t ask you for a letter of recommendation. Give one to them even if they don’t ask for one either in a hard copy at the end of an interview or as an attachment to your follow up email.

  • Get all of your certification paperwork and exams out of the way and submitted as early as possible. You don’t want to be thinking about them when you’re applying to jobs–you’ll have enough stress without worrying about whether or not you’re teaching certification went through.

  • Get in touch with past employers and internship coordinators, let them know you’ve graduated and are looking for work. You never know, sometimes the stars align and they’re looking for someone just like you.

  • Have a backup curriculum prepared for all age groups you’re interested in teaching–even if it’s just an overview

    • Some employers might ask you to create a curriculum on the spot (mine did).

    • In case you get hired last minute (I did) you won’t have to start from scratch, but you’ll have somewhere to pull from and creating a year long curriculum in 2 weeks (or 2 days) won’t seem as daunting as it could be. Remember that list I talked about? This is when that comes in handy.

    • Speaking of creating a curriculum I don’t think we really talk so much about the logistics of creating a curriculum. It’s an area the program could work on. This is not to say you don’t get a lot of tools during your time at NYU, but not exactly: How do I create a curriculum? What should YOU do? Take initiative. I recommend you ask your Cooperating Teachers, they’ve been there and they’ve done it. So while their teaching styles might be very different from your own, take the time to ask them and talk through the process. It’ll help you when you have to create a curriculum of your own.

Lincoln Center Education

Dear Ed Theatre Community,

It is with great pride and excitement that we share with you the announcement of Lincoln Center’s first rebranding in history for its education division – rebranded as Lincoln Center Education.  With the completion of a $1.2 billion redevelopment of the Lincoln Center campus, this rebrand reflects an unprecedented expansion in the field of arts education by the world’s leading performing arts center.

Announced only recently, and in addition to a new name and a new visual identity (created by Ogilvy & Mather and The Brand Union), Lincoln Center Education (LCE) received $4 Million from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation to add innovative programs to its core work – the largest education grant ever awarded to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Lincoln Center Education banner

Lincoln Center Education’s rebranding arrives after a year-long examination of its existing programs and initiatives. New programs will join established efforts in schools and in the community, reflecting the organization’s updated vision and objectives. Harnessing the resources of Lincoln Center, LCE has realigned itself to most effectively develop arts education programs in five distinct areas:

  • K-12 education: programs for more than 25,000 students in over 200 schools in the New York metro area.
  • Higher education: partnerships with local colleges and universities to train teaching candidates in arts education and help recent graduates find employment with school partners.
  • Community outreach: programs include Poet-Linc, Lincoln Center Local, and other free events such as the monthly Meet the Artist series in the David Rubenstein Atrium, designed to engage the community in the arts and events at and beyond the Lincoln Center campus.
  • Lincoln Center Institute: LCI is refocused as a dedicated institute within LCE for research in arts education, and training for educators using an arts-based teaching model.
  • Consultancies: LCE’s special consultancy practice shares its expertise in arts education and creative learning.

In addition to the work we’ve been doing for over 35 years, we are thrilled to share the following new programs and initiatives:

  • “Arts in the Middle” – this new pilot program, created in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, is a three- to five-year initiative beginning in the 2013-14 school year to provide arts programming and teacher training at public middle schools which are underserved in the arts, so as to make the arts a lasting part of these schools and their community.
  • Lincoln Center Education is commissioning a work designed for an audience of children on the autism spectrum.
  • Lincoln Center Education is expanding the existing Lincoln Center Local program, which brings free Lincoln Center programs to neighborhood libraries in the outer boroughs, and alternative locations such as shelters, senior centers and facilities with incarcerated youths.
  • Two additional charter schools partnering with the New York City Department of Education and New Visions for Public Schools have opened this fall, making a total of six that are operating to date. LCE expects to ultimately partner on 18 charter schools.
  • “Next Stage” – Lincoln Center Education is launching a new series of panel discussions, lectures and other programs in the coming months, seeking to generate high-profile discussions on important topics in arts education. This public forum will allow established artists to demonstrate how education has played a role in their work. The initial forums will each be focused on particular arts genres, including dance, music, theater and visual art.

Lincoln Center Education is a global leader in arts education and advocacy and the education cornerstone of Lincoln Center, the world’s largest performing arts complex.  As such, LCE is committed to enriching the lives of students, educators, and lifelong learners by providing opportunities for engagement with the highest-quality arts on the stage, in the classroom, digitally, and within the community. Founded in 1975 as the Lincoln Center Institute, LCE has nearly four decades of unparalleled school and community partnerships, professional development workshops, consulting services, and its very own repertory. LCE has reached more than 20 million students, teachers, school administrators, parents, community members, teaching artists, pre-service teachers, university professors, and artists in New York City, across the nation and around the world.

Our new value proposition, which is at the core of everything we do, is as follows:

The arts cultivate a unique skill set that is indispensable for the 21st century: problem solving, collaboration, communication, imagination, and creativity. Lincoln Center, the world’s premier performing arts center, translates those skills from the stage to the lives of children, equipping them for success in their careers and to serve as active participants in their communities. We offer a distinctive approach to education that helps young minds perform in a dynamic world.

We invite you to learn more about our work and the many ways in which you can be a part of it.  The Educational Theatre community has given us so much – we look forward to increasing our engagement with the program, its staff, its students and its alumni.

With much love and appreciation,

Russell Granet (MA ‘95) – Executive Director

Alex Sarian (MA ’07) – Director, Finance & New Business

Melissa Gawlowski Pratt (current PhD student) – Program Manager