Directing M Squared

By Nick Robertson

When Joe Salvatore posted the Student Directing notice for In Real Time, I jumped at the opportunity.  I’d taken three directing classes in the department (with Nan Smithner and Amy Cordileone, all of which I highly recommend) and was eager to put the concrete skills I’d learned into real-world practice.  I applied to direct M Squared, a mysterious little play about a semi-schlub of a guy, Chad, whose sedate life is totally disrupted when Marilyn Monroe crashes into his kitchen one night.  As I began my application, I realized skills alone were not going to be enough to successfully direct this show.  The play spoke to me in a very personal way and I would need to acknowledge that, lean into it, and be able to share it with other people in order to do the story justice.  Deep down, what I connected to was this person who’d built a safe and static life, denying himself of some very deep-seated desires (passion! excitement! beauty! glamor!) until his subconscious literally had to wake him up to the possibility of a more integrated and joyous existence.  Talk about a classic equation for comedy!  What followed were three and a half months of continually jumping into the void of vulnerability, sharing a private part of myself through this play, first with Joe, then my cast, then the designers, then finally with the audience.  I found that at each step of the journey, people not only accepted what I shared with them, but supported and appropriated it so that by opening night, all of us were telling the same story from our own very personal points of view.  It was a really magical collaborative experience throughout, and one I hope to replicate in all my other theatrical work.

Photo © Chianan Yen

In Real Time: Educational Theatre Presents Six Original, Student-Directed Plays

In Real Time, a premiere performance of six new short plays written by NYU Steinhardt faculty member Joe Salvatore, will be presented by the NYU Steinhardt Program in Educational Theatre February 27-March 8, 2015. Each play is directed by students, working closely with Salvatore and 14 student actors.


The six short plays that make up In Real Time come from a series of eighteen plays that Salvatore wrote in 2012. Three of the plays were subsequently developed as part of a Writers Roundtable sponsored by the Program in Educational Theatre during the 2012-13 academic year. Salvatore also taught playwriting workshops to 180 middle school and high school students throughout New York City, whose feedback provided additional insights to develop the plays. Many of those students will attend the show in special school matinee performances on March 2 and March 6 at 10 a.m.

In Real Time features scenic design by Andy Hall, lighting design by Emily Stork, costume design by Márion Talán, and sound design and composition by Sam Crawford and Zeb Gould. The production stage manager is Talia Krispel, and Keith R. Huff serves as the production’s dramaturg. The directors are NYU Steinhardt students Katie Braun, Elena Stephenson Campbell, Yulissa Hidalgo, Haven Mitchell-Rose, Nick Robertson, and Shanae Sharon. The cast features NYU Steinhardt students Isaiah Bent, Kyla Blocker, Kordell Draper, David Ello, Nicole Gebler, Megan Ibarra, Kirsten Kammermeyer, Alexis Lounsbury, Adam Miller, Charlie Ponty, Sarah Smith, Devin Miranda Weise, Rachel Tuggle Whorton, and Peter Zerneck.

NYU’s production of In Real Time runs February 27-28, March 5-7 at 8pm, and March 1 and 8 at 3pm, at the Provincetown Playhouse (133 MacDougal Street). Tickets are $15 general admission and $5 for students and seniors. For tickets, contact NYU Box Office at or call the box office at 212.998.4941, or visit in person at 566 LaGuardia Place (at Washington Square South).

Suddenly Seymour, and Audrey Too

(All photos by Chianan Yen)

It seems like only yesterday that I was being eaten, daily, by a carnivorous plant. While our Little Shop may have closed, the doors to reflective practices are ever wider. Thinking back, I am realizing that so much of what I have learned and experienced through my classes and extra-curricular work in this department have shaped me into the performer (/artist/educator/person) who appeared on that folding set.

Some takeaways which come to mind are:

  • the use of urgency during performance from Judyie Al-Bilali/Uta Hagen’s missing object exercise in the Acting: Fundamentals class
  • using improv within structure from David Montgomery’s Forum Theatre unit in the Intro to Educational Theatre class
  • learning to be authentic performer from Jonathan Shmidt Chapman’s Theatre for Young Audiences class and subsequent friendship
  • using presentational and physical styles of acting from all the work I have done with Nan Smithner

While these are potent examples, they are only a few which have contributed to my current artistry and I can’t wait to see how my experiences in Little Shop and other aspects of my final year as a student in the Program in Educational Theatre add to that growing list.

– Andrew Anzel (Seymour)

As a first semester graduate student, I figured there was no better way to learn about the Program in Educational Theatre than to throw myself into a departmental musical. I have never been a part of a university production where there was such a wide range of ages, backgrounds, and future plans. As an undergraduate Musical Theater major, the students in my department were all basically in the same place in our lives and had very similar career goals. Little Shop of Horrors provided a fascinating theatrical environment when both graduate and undergraduate students could work together building a show. The points of views, past production experiences and energy levels made the rehearsals and performances an incredibly colorful and rich environment and I thank whoever’s idea it was to let both the younger and older kids play together and put on a show.

– Bethany Moore (Audrey)

Little Shop of Horrors Opens This Week!

Little Shop of Horrors
Book and Lyrics by Howard Ashman
Music by Alan Menken
Based on the film by Roger Corman, Screenplay by Charles Griffith
David Montgomery, Director
Program in Educational Theatre

LOCATION: Black Box Theatre
ADMISSION: $15 General, $5 Students & Seniors
For tickets, contact NYU Box Office
BY PHONE: 212-998-4941
IN PERSON: 566 LaGuardia Place (at Washington Square South)

Friday, October 24 at 8pm
Saturday, October 25 at 8pm
Sunday, October 26 at 3pm
Thursday, October 30 at 8pm
Friday, October 31 at 8pm
Saturday, November 1 at 8pm
Sunday, November 2 at 3pm

The entire cast and crew is made up of undergraduate and graduate students in the Program in Educational Theatre at Steinhardt. The cast includes Andrew Anzul as Seymour, Bethany Moore as Audrey, Zak Ferentz as Mushnick, Katie Braun as Audrey II, Andrew Coopman as the Dentist and Rachel Gubow, Chelsea Flores and Alexandra Richardson as the street urchins.

Other cast members include Josephine Cho, Liana Costable, Kordell Draper, Emma Vissicchio, Christopher Gooley and Alexis Lounsbury.

The production will include four puppets, the pods, to showcase the man-eating plant at various stages of its growth. Josephine Cho, Kordell Draper and Christopher Gooley will serve as puppeteers.

Steinhardt doctoral student Rachel Whorton is the show’s musical director with Dr. Amy Cordileone, a teacher from the Program in Educational Theatre, choreographing.

The crew includes Elizabeth Lozado, Shayna Blecherman, Seohee “July” Bok, Sophie Rosenthal (dance captain), Ashley Miskoff (dance captain), Mark Lussier (assistant stage manager), Orianna Miles (assistant stage manager), Jamie Lerner (assistant director) and Talia Krispel (production stage manager).

The Teacher’s Resource Guide for the show is available here:

And visit for an announcement about the show:

The School for Scandal – Opening This Weekend!

LOCATION: Provincetown Playhouse
ADMISSION: $15 General, $5 Students & Seniors
For tickets, contact NYU Ticket Central
BY PHONE: 212 352 3101
IN PERSON: 566 LaGuardia Place
(at Washington Square South)

Friday, February 28 at 8pm
Saturday, March 1 at 8pm
Sunday, March 2 at 3pm
Thursday, March 6 at 8pm
Friday, March 7 at 8pm
Saturday, March 8 at 8pm
Sunday, March 9 at 3pm

Announcing Auditions for The School for Scandal

Please come out to audition!! All ages, sizes, shapes and levels of experience are welcome!!

The School for Scandal, a Restoration comedy, has been called a superbly crafted laugh machine, and  “timeless in delivering delectable comeuppance to a viper’s nest of gossip mongers!” Written by Richard Brinsley Sheridan in 1777, the play demonstrates his narrative vivacity, verbal sheen and degree of wit in purely polished stagecraft — indeed, his theatre sense was acute and he knew how to write rewarding roles.

Masquerading behind the veneer of polite London society, malicious prattlers trade gossip like gamblers. After all, what could be more fun than a good scandal?

Come on, Ed Theatre, let’s do some COMEDY (of manners)!

Performance dates encompass the last weekend of February and the first week(end) of March.

Audition dates (please sign up in the Ed. Theatre office): 

Wednesday 12/4 7 – 10pm, Acting Studio, Pless Basement
Friday 12/6 5 – 6:30pm Room 303, Education Building, 35 W. 4th

7 – 10:00pm, Acting Studio, Pless Basement

Saturday 12/7 10:00am – 1:00pm, Acting Studio, Pless Basement
Saturday 12/7 CALL BACKS  2 – 4:00pm, Acting Studio, Pless Basement
Please prepare a 2 minute comedic monologue, either classical or contemporary. Please note: willingness to work in a dedicated creative ensemble is essential.


Directed by:

Dr. Nan Smithner
Clinical Associate Professor
Program in Educational Theatre
Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions

META By Deborah Zoe Laufer Opens This Weekend!











By Deborah Zoe Laufer

What if the Gods, Goddesses, Nymphs and Sirens of Greek myth congregated nightly at their favorite downtown dive?  What happens when these tragic heroes wrestle with fate and contemplate hubris through song as the impending flood bears down?  META… That’s what! Join us for the most cathartic fun this side of Olympus!

Program in Educational Theatre
LOCATION: Black Box Theatre

ADMISSION: $15 General, $5 Students & Seniors
For tickets, contact NYU Ticket Central.
BY PHONE: 212 352 3101
IN PERSON: 566 LaGuardia Place (at Washington Square South)

Friday, October 25 at 8pm
Saturday, October 26 at 8pm
Sunday, October 27 at 3pm
Thursday, October 31 at 8pm
Friday, November 1 at 8pm
Saturday, November 2 at 8pm
Sunday, November 3 at 3pm

Audition Notice: Myths of the Metamorphoses

Myths of the Metamorphoses***

(*** official title forthcoming)

Written and Developed by Deborah Zoe Laufer (with assistance from the ensemble)

Directed by Amy Cordileone

Musical Direction by Rachel Whorton

Join the Program in Educational Theatre for an exciting new venture this fall… a brand new, mainstage play with music & movement!

The creative team is excited to collaborate with an ensemble of 12-16 diverse female and male storytellers (including singers and dancers) interested in weaving select tales from among the 360 myths of Ovid’s epic poem, The Metamorphoses.

Actors, singers, and/or dancers interested in auditioning should email Amy Cordileone to schedule an appointment & receive more specific information regarding the audition itself, ^^

^^ Auditions will be scheduled in 10-minute increments on the date listed below. Please email Amy with a preferred window of at least 90 minutes during which your 10-minute audition and dance call will be scheduled (given times will be honored, should times within said window continue to be available).

Auditions and callbacks will take place at the Provincetown Playhouse (133 MacDougal Street).

Audition Date: Saturday, Aug 31 (10:00 am – 1:00 pm & 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm)

Callback Date: Sunday, Sep 1 (10:00 am – 5:00 pm)

For the audition, participants will be asked to:

tell a 1-2 minute story & sing a 1-2 minute a capella piece

learn a group movement piece

Rehearsal days/dates: Tuesday – Sunday (Sep 3 – Oct 24)

Show Dates:

Friday, October 25 at 8 pm
Saturday, October 26 at 8 pm
Sunday, October 27 at 3 pm

Monday, October 28 at 10 am (school show)
Thursday, October 31 at 8 pm

Friday, November 1 at 10 am (school show)
Friday, November 1 at 8 pm
Saturday, November 2 at 8 pm
Sunday, November 3 at 3 pm

They Be Calling Us Witches: A Cast Member’s Take on The Crucible

By Mel Ridgway

On March 1, 1692, the townspeople of Salem, Massachusetts began to hold trials accusing its citizens of witchcraft. Exactly 321 years later, the lights went up on the Educational Theatre program’s re-creation of these trials, The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Twelve graduate and undergraduate students, both in and out of the program, came together to take on this daunting task. I was lucky enough to be one of those twelve.

Photo by Chianan Yen

The idea of performing in an American classic like The Crucible – and trying to string it all together in only six weeks– was a very scary and exciting thought. To add to the stakes, this year marks the 60th anniversary of The Crucible‘s first Broadway production. Luckily we had the motivational push from our wonderful stage manager Talia Krispel and her assistant stage managers, Cody Allyn Page and Kathleen Turner and the aid of our director Dr. Philip Taylor and our dramaturg/assistant director Jonathan Jones.

Photo by Chianan Yen

The rehearsal process was, to say the least, memorable and challenging. The show is emotionally draining and forces you to really open your eyes. If the plot of this show is not enough to exhaust the cast, trying to figure out the grammar and language of the text was even harder. But, through an amazing cast bond we formed from the hours spent together, we challenged each other to leap past these hurdles and bring each other to the finish line. It was truly an ensemble effort to get to where we were.

One of the most interesting realizations in the process occurred during one of our talk-backs with high school students. One of these students raised their hand and asked, “Now why do the costumes look modern, the set pieces look like they’re from colonial times and the projections look like they’re from the 1950s?” The cast was baffled until one of our cast members, Cara Arcuni, answered this question.

“The themes of this show are timeless.”

I realized she was absolutely right. Somehow, in a strange yet understandable way, all of these time periods connected to each other. It reminded me of a quote our director introduced us to in the beginning of our rehearsal process:

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

And this is exactly what has happened. We have forgotten about the message this play is supposed to teach us and, as punishment, we are still hunting witches to this day, only these witches take on the form of illegal immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community and union workers just to name a few examples. The observation this high school student made was exactly Arthur Miller wanted. We are supposed to think it is strange that all of these different time periods relate to each other, and still relate to us now and in 60 years, if we do not listen to this quote, we will be having this conversation once again.

Photo by Chianan Yen