Educational Theatre Explores Morality with Play ‘The Good Soul of Szechuan’

By Amanda Wicks

The Program will stage Bertolt Brecht’s parable of goodness October 18-27 at NYU’s Black Box Theatre.

Rita Liu rehearses as Shen-Te. Photo by Hoa Thi Khanh Tran

Rita Liu rehearses as Shen-Te. Photo by Hoa Thi Khanh Tran

What does it take to be a good person? The question has long intrigued philosophers: Plato believed it hinged on knowledge, while Kant thought it remained intrinsically tied to motivation, and John Stuart Mill surmised it had to do with actions that maximized people’s happiness.

But philosophers haven’t been the only thinkers to engage with the question, which continues to grow increasingly tangled as the centuries progress. In that time, it hasn’t become any easier to land on a definitive answer, but the investigation remains worthwhile.

NYU Steinhardt’s Educational Theatre program takes up the inquiry with its upcoming staging of Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Soul of Szechuan. The play runs from October 18-27 at NYU’s Black Box Theatre (Pless Hall, 82 Washington Square East). In keeping with Brecht’s theory of alienation (Verfremdungseffect), the production incorporates mime, abstract movement, choral work, songs and placards.

The German playwright, poet, and director made the question of goodness a central focus of his 1941 play. Set in Szechuan, it follows the journey of three gods who seek an answer to that age-old question, and seem to find it in the heroin dealer Shen-Te, whose morality supersedes her lifestyle. The gods gift Shen-Te with wealth thanks to her good nature, but that only draws bad characters into her life, which further complicates the question of goodness. 

Educational Theatre’s production features David Harrower’s translation, which comes from the lesser-known Santa Monica version Brecht wrote while living in exile during Hitler’s reign in Germany. Although he later revised the play, making Shen-Te a prostitute, the original portrayed her as an opium dealer (which Harrower later translated to heroin).  

“With a diverse ensemble, we have explored ways in which the play is relevant in the 21st century, drawing parallels to Brecht’s time under the specter of fascism, to current day dilemmas in our often hostile and dangerous world,” said Nancy Smithner, clinical associate professor of educational theatre, who directs the production. “Moving beyond the binaries of good and bad, we ask, ‘Is it possible to be truly good in our present-day world?’”

Between October 18-27, performances of The Good Soul of Szechuan take place at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. See the full schedule and purchase tickets via the NYU Box Office.

CfP: ArtsPraxis Volume 7 Issue 1

ArtsPraxis Volume 7, Issue 1 looks to engage members of the global Educational Theatre community in dialogue around current research and practice. This call for papers is released in anticipation of the publication of ArtsPraxis Volume 6, Issue 2. The submission deadline for Volume 7, Issue 1 is November 15, 2019.

Submissions should fall under one of the following categories:

  • Drama in Education (i.e., studies in drama/theatre curriculum, special education, integrated arts, assessment and evaluation)
  • Applied Theatre (i.e., studies in community-based theatre, theatre of the oppressed, the teaching artist, diversity and inclusion)
  • Theatre for Young Audiences and Play Production (i.e., studies in acting, directing, dramaturgy, playwriting, dramatic literature, theatre technology, arts-based research methodologies)

Call for Papers

Papers should be no longer than 4,000 words, must be accompanied by a 200 word abstract and 100 word biographies for the author(s), and conform to APA style manual. 

Key questions the Issue will address include:

Drama in Education

  • How and why do we teach drama and theatre in schools and community settings?
  • How do the roles and responsibilities of the teaching artist differ from those of the classroom teacher (primary, secondary or higher education)?
  • What is the contemporary role of drama and theatre in arts education?
  • How do we prepare future theatre artists and educators in the 21st century?
  • What are innovative ways of devising original works and/or teaching theatre using various aesthetic forms, media, and/or technology?
  • To what extent can the study of global theatre forms impact students’ learning?
  • To what extent should we distinguish theatre-making from drama as a learning medium?
  • How can integrated-arts curricula facilitate teaching, learning and presenting the craft of theatre?
  • How do we assess students’ aesthetic understanding and awareness?
  • What research supports the potential of drama as a learning medium?
  • How do drama and theatre make connections across curricular content areas and beyond schools?
  • How do drama and theatre education contribute to lifelong learning?
  • What role do drama and theatre play in community agencies?

Applied Theatre

  • How can drama provide a forum to explore ideas?
  • What are innovative strategies for using drama to stimulate dialogue, interaction and change?
  • How is theatre being used to rehabilitate people in prisons, health facilities, and elsewhere?
  • How do we prepare future artists/educators for work in applied theatre?
  • What ethical questions should the artist/educator consider in their work?
  • In what ways are aesthetics important in applied theatre? How do we negotiate a commitment to both the process and product of applied theatre work?
  • How do artist/educators assess participants’ understandings in an applied theatre project?
  • What are the major tensions in the field and how are these being addressed?
  • To what extent has recent research on affect influenced community-based praxis?

Theatre for Young Audiences/Play Production

  • Theatre for young audiences is an international movement and the borders are breaking down so how do we present and respond to work from other countries?
  • Who exactly are our new audiences– who are we talking to?
  • Are we as brave as we think we are? How does what we think we should do relate to what we want to do as artists?
  • Is the writer at the heart of future theatre creation? What has happened to dramaturgy in the brave new world of immersive, experiential, visual/physical theatre?
  • Theatre for Young Audiences has always been in the forefront of theatrical innovation. So what is next?
  • What have we learned about nurturing the artist of the future– playwriting, theatre-making, performance?
  • How do artists establish rigorous, intentional new works development processes that are innovative and sustainable?
  • How does accountability serve the stakeholders in a new works development process?
  • How do we define and measure success in theatre for young audiences?

We encourage article submissions from interdisciplinary artists, educators, and scholars engaged in work associated with the forum topics. Our goals are to motivate a dialogue among a wide variety of practitioners and researchers that will enrich the development of educational theatre in the coming years.

Dr. Jonathan Jones, New York University
Editor

Editorial Board:

  • Selina Busby, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, UK
  • Amy Cordileone, New York University, USA
  • Ashley Hamilton, University of Denver, USA
  • Norifumi Hida, Toho Gakuen College of Drama and Music, Japan
  • Kelly Freebody, The University of Sydney, Australia
  • Byoung-joo Kim, Seoul National University of Education, South Korea
  • David Montgomery, New York University, USA
  • Ross Prior, University of Wolverhampton, UK
  • Daphnie Sicre, Loyola Marymount University, USA
  • James Webb, Bronx Community College, USA
  • Gustave Weltsek, Indiana University Bloomington, USA

Reviewing Procedures

Each article will be sent to two peer reviewers. They will provide advice on the following:

  • Whether the article should be published with no revisions/with revisions.
  • The contribution the article makes to the arts community.
  • Specific recommendations to the author about improving the article.
  • Other publishing outlets if the article is considered unacceptable.

Papers should be sent to:

Dr. Jonathan Jones
ArtsPraxis
Include ‘ArtsPraxis Submission’ in the subject line.

World Drama 2019 Speakers Series – LatinX Theatre

This fall, the World Drama course at NYU Steinhardt / Program in Educational Theatre welcomes a variety of theatre professionals to discuss the diverse theatre companies here in New York City. Please join us to hear about the companies and their artistic staff, productions, and vision for theatre in our great city.

The first event is Wednesday, October 16
6:45 – 8:25PM
Pless Basement Acting Studio
82 Washington Square East

Panelists include:
Robert Federico – Repertorio Español 
Manuel Moran – TeatroSEA
Ramiro Sandoval – TabulaRaSa

If you wish to attend, RSVP

Future panelist topics and dates are as follows:
Wednesday, November 6 – Asian American Theatre
Wednesday, December 4 – African-American / Black Theatre

Please let Dr. Jonathan Jones know if you have any questions.

Friendsgiving and FIREBEETLES!!! Auditions

Uproar logo and Title for events

We are so excited to announce auditions for our fall mainstage productions! Part of Uproar’s mission is to produce new works written by NYU students.

In celebration of this, we will be producing Friendsgiving, written by Carina Kanzler, and FIREBEETLES!!! by Yaroslava Bondar.

FIREBEETLES!!! is a ten minute one-woman show which will be playing before Friendsgiving at each performance date. Friendsgiving is a 60-80 minutes show with a cast of seven women and one man.

Audition Times and Locations:
September 19th from 7-11 in GCASL 269
September 20th from 6-11 in GCASL 269

Click here for Materials and instructions

Click here to sign up for an audition slot

Please fill out this information form when you sign up

—————————————————————-
SYNOPSIS:
Friendsgiving:
Everyone says that the first three months of college are the hardest, that if you can survive them, you’re in the clear. But what happens when you have to return home and confront everything you left behind? A group of girlfriends, inseparable since sixth grade, grapple with what it means to move forward, grow up, and let go while still leaving room in their lives for those who had such a profound impact on who they are today. They are forced to confront the sometimes alarming truth of what has changed and what hasn’t at their first annual “Friendsgiving”.

FIREBEETLES!!!:
Mina is a 12 year old girl with SO MANY questions (What is a penis? How to boil a frog? Is the world ending?) but very little answers. With her older sister off to college and her best friend in a relationship, she is left with just her stuffed animals to talk to. FIREBEETLES!!! is a play about growing up, staying young, feeling small in an overwhelming world, and, naturally, fireflies.

ArtsPraxis Volume 5 Issue 1

Cover Photo: Photo by Saskia Kahn from Of a Certain Age, NYU Steinhardt, Program in Educational Theatre, Directed by Joe Salvatore, 2018

This invited special issue of ArtsPraxis features voices from that two-day forum and offers just a small snapshot of the varied perspectives and practices that gathered together at NYU. I was keenly interested in sharing the powerful and resonant comments of established leaders in the field alongside new and emerging artists and scholars whose work covers new ground either in form or content. The issue begins with an excerpted version of the forum’s opening keynote conversation with Dr. Patricia Leavy, best-selling author, book series creator and editor, and internationally recognized leader in arts-based and qualitative research, in which she discusses her origins and evolution as an artist and scholar and shares her thoughts on the aesthetics and ethics of ethnodrama and arts-based research. This is followed by the text of a keynote delivered by leading scholar in ethnodrama and ethnotheatre Emeritus Professor Johnny Saldaña, in which he situates our practice as theatre makers within the complex world at large, shares examples of plays from across the genre that illustrate this “art of fabrication,” and makes recommendations for how we move forward as artists and scholars in a post-truth era. Emerging scholar and drama therapist Darci Burch introduces the term “ethno-actor” and defines the aesthetic and ethical implications for an actor who performs the speech and gestural patterns of an actual person.

The issue then includes three ethnodramatic scripts, each of which takes a different approach to the form and content of the genre. Thomas Murray’s The Right of Way examines the circumstances surrounding the death of a cyclist in Chicago while simultaneously offering historical contextualization of transportation in the United States, highlighting the growing tensions between cyclists, automobile drivers, and pedestrians. Jamila Humphrie and Emily Schorr Lesnick explore how young members of the lgbtq+ community choose to express and explain their identities with their interview theatre play, How We GLOW, which has been performed over 30 times in venues throughout the United States and Ireland. And the special issue rounds out with My Other Job by Cali Moore and Rachel Tuggle Whorton, their humorous and insightful homage to the actor’s “survival” vocation, and how that plays out across a variety of experiences and contexts.

– Joe Salvatore, Guest Editor

This issue of ArtsPraxis is available for download.

Editorial – Joe Salvatore

A Plenary Conversation – Patricia Leavy with Joe Salvatore

Keynote Address: The Art of Fabrication – Johnny Saldaña

The Ethno-Actor: Encompassing the Intricacies and Challenges of Character Creation in Ethnotheatre – Darci Burch

The Right of Way – Thomas Murray

How We GLOW – Jamila Humphrie and Emily Schorr Lesnick

My Other Job – Cali Elizabeth Moore and Rachel Tuggle Whorton

ArtsPraxis Volume 6 Issue 1 has been published.

ArtsPraxis Volume 6, Issue 1 cover

Our contributions in this issue come from artists, educators, and activists—all working towards bringing light to dark places. We begin with two theoretical frameworks from different parts of the world; one at the start of her scholarly work and the other following a solid career of contributions to the field. Xiaojin Niu explores the interaction between theatre and modern power with an examination of sexuality study. Roger Wooster revisits an old question at a new time: whether we should draw a distinction between theatre-making and drama as a learning medium.

As applied theatre practitioners continue to engage in theatre practices with diverse populations, we have three contributions interrogating powerful topics. Jennifer Wong looks at the importance of being an outsider, pondering the strengths that come from this positionality; Sarah Woodland looks to aesthetics, navigating an approach to support incarcerated participants in truth-telling; and Julie Rada gains a deeper understanding of a familiar drama strategy, asking participants to witness each other while in prison.

The final sequence of articles takes a close look at how theatre educates. Rivka Rocchio recounts her time using drama to teach English in Samoa, revealing ways in which drama can level the playing field between insider and outsider. Mark Branner and Mike Poblete document successful iterations of theatre for babies and outline a list of characteristics for this emerging field. Manjima Chatterjee defines material theatre as an aesthetic experience that promotes democracy in the performance space. Finally, Jennifer Essex wrestles with two categories of audience participation in children’s interactive dance theatre: ‘interactors’ and ‘non-interactors,’ defining and problematizing each.

This issue of ArtsPraxis is available for download.

Editorial: A New Colossus by Jonathan Jones

The Interaction between Theatre and Modern Power with an Examination of Sexuality Study in Schooling by Xiaojin Niu

Exercising the Mind by Roger Wooster

Importance of the Outsider: Reflections from the Facilitator of a Community-Based Playbuilding Project by Jennifer Wong

Aesthetics of Truth-Telling: Intercultural Applied Theatre Praxis in an Australian Women’s Prison by Sarah Woodland

Being There…in Prison by Julie A. Rada

Breaking the Cultural Hierarchy: Using Drama to Teach English in Samoa by Rivka Rocchio

Getting Serious about Playful Play: Identifying Characteristics of Successful Theatre for Very Young Audiences by Mark Branner and Mike Poblete

Drama for Democracy: Material Theatre by Manjima Chatterjee

Co-operative Make-Believe as Practice in Children’s Interactive Dance Theatre by Jennifer Essex

ArtsPraxis, Volume 5 Issue 2

The cover image for Arts Praxis Volume 5 Issue 2, 2019, is from a keynote presentation in which the words "all theatre is political" were crossed out - in an attempt to provoke conversation, which is the shared aim of this issue.

ArtsPraxis Volume 5 Issue 2 has been published.

Last April, at the 15th annual Forum: Performance as Activism, I was heartened to meet practitioners, artists, educators and scholars from around the globe who were enthusiastically engaged in using the art form of theatre to address pressing social and cultural issues. This edition of ArtsPraxis includes fourteen inspiring and pertinent articles that report on activist theories and practices that have been initiated, explored and successfully implemented in communities and classrooms.

At the Forum, we asked, “How is activism defined or redefined in 2018?” Through panel discussions, workshops, performances and paper presentations we explored how activism can disrupt, subvert and transform dominant social and political narratives. More than sixty presenters from twelve different countries relayed inspirational and revelatory methods towards the goal of promoting enduring social change through aesthetic expression. In this global space of open dialogue and exchange, we, as activists learned about organizational methods, pedagogical tools, aesthetic devices that, in responding to the complexities of our time, push past boundaries and binaries to redefine cultural innovation.

I hope that you will be inspired by the following theories and practices offered in this volume, ranging from the metamodern to dialogical activism to personal resilience, and surrounded by artistic innovation.

This issue of ArtsPraxis is available for download.

Editorial – NANCY SMITHNER

NYU Keynote – PING CHONG

Deaf Talent: Richness within Our Stories by James W. Guido – JAMES W. GUIDO

Ximonïk: The Unbound Performances of Maya Women’s Group Ajchowen – CHELSEA HACKETT

Hope with Dirty Hands: Community Theatre Participation as Activism in Everything is Possible – BRIDGET FOREMAN

Energize, Resist, Re-Purpose: An American Theatre Responds – PENELOPE COLE

From the School to the Educating Community: Practices of Social Theatre in Italy as a New Form of Activism – GIULIA INNOCENTI MALINI

Leaping into the Disassociated Space: Unknowing Activism, Agency and Youth Identity in “Notes From Nowhere” – GUSTAVE WELTSEK and CLARE HAMMOOR; ILLUSTRATIONS BY KYLIE WALLS

Students as Arts Activists: Insights and Analysis from a Politically Engaged Assessment – MATTHEW REASON

Inciting Solidarity through Plural Performativity and Pedagogical Aesthetics in Ethnodrama with Marginalized Youth in Toronto – RACHEL RHOADES

Beyond the Wall: Borderland Identity through Puppets – ANA DIAZ BARRIGA

The Aesthetics of Activism in Korea: The Utopian Performative and Communitas – JISUN KIM

A Silent Shout: Metamodern Forms of Activism in Contemporary Performance by Tom Drayton – TOM DRAYTON

“It Did Get Rid of the ‘These People Are Old People’ Thing in My Brain”: Challenging the Otherness of Old Age through One-to-One Performance – BRIDIE MOORE

Inday Dolls: Body Monologues and Lullabies for Freedom in Prison; Scripting Possible Futures in Justice Art in Iloilo’s Correctional System – MA ROSALIE ABETO ZERRUDO and DENNIS D. GUPA

Media Practice and Theatre in Conversation: Co-Creating Narratives for Positive Social Change – JACKIE KAULI and VERENA THOMAS

CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Educational Theatre and Drama Therapy Forum 2019

NYU Educational Theatre & Drama Therapy Forum 2019: Theatre & Health

April 11-14, 2019

 

An aging population, increasing climate and politically-motivated displacement, unstable housing, the rise of depression and anxiety, and the challenges of providing comprehensive healthcare amongst other concerns make health a significant challenge for our times. With this in mind, we invite you to join us for an exploration of how theatre, including improvisation, performance, and other drama processes, contribute to psychological, neurological, physical, social, civic and public health. Teachers, drama therapists, applied improvisation practitioners, theatre-makers, performance artists, and scholars are invited to come together to share vocabularies, ideas, strategies, practices, measures, and outcomes.

 

During this event, participants will consider the following questions:

  • What understandings of health and wellbeing inform improvisation and theatre-making?

  • How can theatre, including performance, improvisation and other drama processes, be used to address specific health concerns and promote wellbeing?

  • How can we assess health outcomes related to theatre?

  • How are artists, educators, and therapists using improvisation and performance in health related research?

  • How do health-related contexts inform aesthetic choices and social considerations?

Call for Proposals

DEADLINE: JANUARY 15TH, 2019 AT 11:59 EST

We invite the global community to submit session proposals dealing with research, artistry, and practice. Proposals can be submitted for workshops, papers, narratives, and performances that address the guiding questions listed above. Submissions are due by Monday, January 15, 2019 (11:59pm, EST), and we strive to notify potential presenters by February 20. We encourage new researchers and practitioners to submit proposals as well, so we can include new voices in the discourse.

Papers and Narratives (30 minutes):

We invite authors to submit a proposal for the presentation of a paper or narrative. Papers and narratives must be grounded in research, artistry, or practice and should somehow address the guiding questions for the forum. Proposals should outline elements of the research, practice, and/or theory-focused work the author wishes to present. Accepted papers and narratives will be organized as much as possible into thematic sessions. 30 minutes will be designated to these presentations: 20 minutes to present and 10 minutes for Q&A.

Workshops (45 or 90 minutes):

We invite practitioners to apply to facilitate workshops relating to the use of improvisation, performance, and/or theatre related skills to facilitate health and wellbeing. Proposals should outline the details of the workshop: who are the participants, what strategies will the facilitator(s) demonstrate, and how will the participants later apply this approach to their own work? Workshops will be held in an open workshop space. Workshops may be provided with a 45 or 90-minute timeslot and accepted practitioners should allow time within that period for discussion.

Artistic Sharings (45 minutes):

We invite authors to apply to share examples of theatre and health. Proposals should outline elements of research, artistry, practice and/or theory-focused work embedded within the piece. Proposed sharings should have already been staged and/or presented for an audience in another venue prior to their inclusion in the forum and could be comprised of a scene, scenes or the entire piece. Please note: Sharings will be staged in a workshop space, and will not receive technical support. Sharings will be provided with a 45-minute time slot and accepted presenters should allow time within that period for discussion of the work (i.e. 30 minute sharing/ 15 minute discussion)

Submission Instructions

The submission and review of proposals for the 2019 NYU Forum on Theatre and Health will be managed through an online conference proposal management system called EasyChair. This system gives you, the author, complete control over your submission. You can upload your abstract and check on the review status of your submission.

Please use the template below and submit through the ABSTRACT box on EASYCHAIR Do not upload additional documents – they will not be reviewed.

Under topic, please choose your type of proposal

Title of Proposal:

Type (Paper or Narrative, Workshop, Artistic Sharing):

Abstract (250 words maximum describing your session):

Relevance (250 words maximum describing how your proposal addresses the themes of the conference):

Biographical Statement (150 word maximum per presenter):

Proposals will be peer reviewed. Submissions are due by January 15th, 2019 (11:59pm, EST). Authors/applicants will be notified of the outcome by February 20, 2019.

Click here to submit your proposal.

Additional instructions for creating an EasyChair account and submitting a proposal are available here. Feel free to submit any additional questions to nyuforum2019@gmail.com.

Please share this email with a colleague, friend, list, and like us on Facebook!

We look forward to seeing you at NYU in the spring!

Sincerely,

The 2019 NYU Forum Committee and

Dr. Nisha Sajnani & Dr. David Montgomery, Co-Chairs

Scholar-in-Residence Rubén Blades comes to Educational Theatre, Wednesday, October 24!

Rubin Blades

We have the privilege of hosting the inaugural NYU Steinhardt Dean’s Scholar-in-Residence for 2018-19, Rubén Blades, on Wednesday, October 24, 3:30-4:45pm in the Pless Hall Black Box Theatre. All Educational Theatre students, faculty, and staff are welcome and encouraged to attend this discussion with an outstanding exemplar of what it means to be an artist-citizen in the 21st century.

Rubén is an actor, musician, activist and politician. He is a 17 time Grammy winner, 3 time Emmy nominee, one time Presidential nominee for the Republic of Panama, and current star of AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead. He is an extraordinary artist and activist, as evidenced by his bio and website here.

Please make it a point to join us for this conversation! We look forward to your attendance and participation!

Looking for Shakespeare Opens This Week!

Looking for Shakespeare
presents
Poster Image for Two Noble Kinsmen

Thursday, July 19 at 7PM

Friday, July 20 at 7PM
Saturday, July 21 at 2PM
 
Black Box Theatre
82 Washington Sq. East
 
Tickets are $5 online and at the door
Purchase tickets at NYU Ticket Central
 
Looking for Shakespeare is an intensive four-week summer program for high school students from across the country. Over the past few weeks, our ensemble of 18 young actors has worked with Director Amy Cordileone, our artistic team, and 8 incredible grad students to produce this rarely-performed Shakespeare play.
 
If you would like to join us for the Invited Dress Rehearsal at 7PM on Wednesday, July 18th.
please email Jasmine Pai 
 

Director: Amy Cordileone, PhD
Producers: Jasmine Vogue Pai & Robert M. Stevenson
Productio
n Stage Manager: Cassie Holzum
Assistant Stage Manager: Zack Palomo
Music Director: Rachel Whorton
Dramaturg & Vocal Coach: Ashley Renee Thaxton
Scenic & Lighting Designer: Daryl Embry
Costume Designer: Livvie Goble
Props Master & Sound Designer: Evan Oslund
Dramaturgy Intern: Kaylee DeFreitas
Production Artwork Designer: Sophie Bomeisler

Ensemble Members: Ma. Pilar Beddall, Elektra Birchall, Maya Bodnick, Sophie Bomeisler, Hero Cordileone, Oliver D’Avolio, Aaron Dorelien, Liam Festa, Emily Friedman, Wilson Hernandez, Elizabeth Kenney, Cornelius “CK” Kittrell, Nina Kolman, Thomas LaGrange, Emily Leclerc, Sasha Kruger, Rachel Smith, Finn Westcott
NYU Students/Acting CoachesStephanie Anderson, Shalen Daniels, Ian McCabe, June Moore, Justine Moser, Victoria Neff, Cynthia Rosen, Casey Starkey