Announcing Auditions for Educational Theatre’s Spring 2020 Main Stage Production

The Program in Educational Theatre announces auditions for its Spring 2020 Main Stage Production directed by Joe Salvatore:

Making Gay History Org Logo

A new verbatim documentary theatre project adapted from the Making Gay History podcast. The project will explore LGBTQ+ history prior to the Stonewall uprising in 1969.

In Winter 2020, NYU Steinhardt’s Program in Educational Theatre will produce a verbatim documentary theatre project adapted from the Making Gay History podcast. The series draws its material from interviews conducted by journalist and author Eric Marcus in the late 1980s and early 1990s and that he published as two books: Making History (1992) and Making Gay History (2002). In 2016, Marcus was asked to turn the original audio files of his interviews into a podcast series, which resulted in the release of five seasons, a special Stonewall 50 season, and a sixth season in October 2019.

Marcus approached Joe Salvatore, Clinical Associate Professor of Educational Theatre and verbatim documentary theatre practitioner to collaborate on the creation of a live performance version of Making Gay History, requesting that the project focus on LGBTQ+ history before the Stonewall uprising in 1969. The intention is for the resulting play to be performed by high schools, colleges, and universities across the country as a way to teach LGBTQ+ history.

The project seeks actors from diverse backgrounds and experiences for an ensemble production of the play that may also include music inspired by the songs of Edythe Eyde. Actors who sing and/or play guitar, ukulele, and/or piano are encouraged to audition. Please note that in this particular style of verbatim performance participants/characters are often portrayed by actors of other races, ethnicities, genders, ages, abilities, and orientations.

Rehearsals will begin on or around January 18, 2020, and will occur 5-6 days a week with the opening performance scheduled for February 28, 2020.

Performance Dates:

  • Friday, February 28, 8pm 
  • Saturday, February 29, 8pm
  • Sunday, March 1, 3pm
  • Monday, March 2, 10am
  • Thursday, March 5, 8pm
  • Friday, March 6, 10am
  • Friday, March 6, 8pm
  • Saturday, March 7, 3pm
  • Saturday, March 7, 8pm
  • Sunday, March 8, 3pm

Location: Provincetown Playhouse at 133 Macdougal Street, NYC 

Audition dates, times, and locations:

Friday, November 15, 1:00-4:00pm (Education Building, Room 770)

Saturday, November 16, Noon-5:00pm (Education Building, Room 307)


Callbacks:
Sunday, November 17, 1:00-4:00pm (Education Building, Room 779)

Interested actors can click on this link to sign up for an audition slot. You will be taken to a website where you can select an audition date/time. If you have conflicts with the scheduled auditions, please reach out to Joe Salvatore (js1655@nyu.edu) to consider an alternative audition date and time. For the auditions, actors should prepare the following:

  • One of the speeches available at this link.
  • A short movement piece, no more than 2 minutes, set to a piece of music. Please bring a device (phone, tablet, laptop) to play your music. We’re interested in seeing how you complete an action while music is playing and/or tell a story through movement. THIS IS NOT MEANT TO BE ADVANCED CHOREOGRAPHY. You can tie your shoes to a Beyoncé song.
  • An awareness of one of the episodes of the Making Gay History podcast and why it speaks to you.
  • A theatrical resume (headshot/photo optional but not required)
  • Your Spring 2020 class schedule and any other pre-existing personal conflicts from January 13 through March 8, 2020.
  • 16 bars of a song to be sung acapella (no accompaniment) (optional)

If you have questions, please contact Joe Salvatore at js1655@nyu.edu.

Bravo to the Cast and Crew of ‘The Good Soul of Szechuan’

By David Montgomery

Congratulations to everybody involved in the Program in Educational Theatre’s production of Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Soul of Szechuan. What a pleasure it was to see such an outstanding production of Brecht performed in the Black Box Theatre on Thursday night (October 24)!

NYU Steinhardt Program in Educational Theatre - 'Good Soul of Szechuan' Poster, 2019

Exquisitely directed by Dr. Nancy Smither, many of Brecht’s theatre techniques were brilliantly used, including the use of captions, music, songs, actors playing several roles, direct addresses to the audience, and plenty of humor mixed with serious themes and moments. All of these theatrical techniques supported and enhanced the play’s structure, which was translated by David Harrower. Following the actions of the character of Shen Te/Shui Ta, the play explores whether in order to do good we must sometimes do evil, and whether true goodness is possible in a poverty-filled world. 

This parable exploring good and evil embodied Brecht’s vision of a theater that simultaneously entertains, teaches and provokes questions and thought. Tonight I was so impressed by the talented ensemble’s ability to convey all these things. The 17 cast members worked together seamlessly to present a provocative and compelling interpretation of this historically significant play that felt fresh and new. And Anthony Sun Prickett’s original music and musical numbers further added meaningful weight to the tone and mood of the piece. 

The wonderfully versatile ensemble of actors  included:

  • Elise Baum
  • Theo Blumstein
  • Jason Goldwin Chang
  • Christine Drayer
  • Irene Guo
  • Madeline Hoak
  • Asha John
  • Beryl Liu
  • Rita Liu
  • Laura Amancha Negrete
  • Xiaojin Niu
  • Eve Price
  • Kevin Qian
  • Sarah Reed
  • Ash Russell
  • Gretchen Vosburgh
  • Sara Wu 

Tim McMath’s set design was perfect, seemingly simple yet highly inventive. Praise must also be given to Lighting Designer Daryl Embry, Costume Designer Michelle Humprey, Sound Designer Ernesto Valenzuela, assistant directors/dramaturgs Jin Dong and Anthony Sun Prickett, assistant stage managers Megan Abbanat and Hoa Thi Kahnh Tran, and the always reliable and talented Production Stage Manager, Kristina Varshavskaya. 

Bravo to you all!

There are only three remaining shows at the Black Box Theatre at 82 Washington Square East—including Friday night (Oct. 24) at 8pm, Saturday at 8pm, and this Sunday at 3pm.

So don’t miss this illuminating and entertaining production! 

Catch it before it closes!

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.

Auditions for Fall Mainstage Production: THE GOOD SOUL OF SZECHUAN

The Good Soul of Szechuan tranlated by David Harrower - Bloomsbury cover image
The Good Soul of Szechuan

THE GOOD SOUL OF SZECHUAN
by Bertolt Brecht
directed by Dr. Nan Smithner 

A play with music AND a timely tale of good versus greed! 

Seeking diverse actors of all ages, sizes, and genders: An excellent opportunity to work in an ensemble format creating and exploring Brecht’s alienation devices. 

Please prepare a 1 – 2 minute monologue of your choosing, as well as a short song.

AUDITION DETAILS:

  • Dates + Times: September 4, 5, 6 from 7:00pm – 10:00pm
  • Location: Black Box Theatre, Pless Hall – 82 Washington Square East | New York, NY 10003
  • Additional info: 
    • Reserve your audition here
    • Please prepare a 1 – 2 minute monologue of your choosing, as well as a short song
    • Please bring your resume and headshot
    • Callbacks on Sat, September 7 from 10am – 12pm 
    • 1st Rehearsal on Sat, September 7 from 1pm – 5pm

REHEARSAL + SHOW INFO:

  • Rehearsal dates: September 7 – October 17, 2019
  • Performance dates: October 18 – 27, 2019

If you have any questions please feel free to email Kristina Varshavskaya (Production Stage Manager)

Thank you and looking forward to seeing you at the auditions!

Auditions for Radium Girls!

The Program in Educational Theatre is proud to announce the Spring main stage: Radium Girls written by D.W. Gregory and directed by David Montgomery. Auditions will be Saturday, 1/26 and Monday, 1/28 with callbacks on Tuesday, 1/29.

“In 1926, radium was a miracle cure, Madame Curie an international celebrity, and luminous watches the latest rage—until the girls who painted them began to fall ill with a mysterious disease. Inspired by a true story, Radium Girls traces the efforts of Grace Fryer, a dial painter, as she fights for her day in court. Her chief adversary is her former employer, Arthur Roeder, an idealistic man who cannot bring himself to believe that the same element that shrinks tumors could have anything to do with the terrifying rash of illnesses among his employees. As the case goes on, however, Grace finds herself battling not just with the U.S. Radium Corporation, but with her own family and friends, who fear that her campaign for justice will backfire. Written with warmth and humor, Radium Girls is a fast-moving, highly theatrical ensemble piece for 9 to 10 actors, who play more than 30 parts—friends, co-workers, lovers, relatives, attorneys, scientists, consumer advocates, and myriad interested bystanders. Called a “powerful” and “engrossing” drama by critics, Radium Girls offers a wry, unflinching look at the peculiarly American obsessions with health, wealth, and the commercialization of science.”

Our production seeks an ensemble of 9-12 people of diverse backgrounds, ages, genders, races, ethnicities, and abilities to perform various roles in the ensemble. Almost all performers will play multiple characters. For more information or to sign up to audition, please visit here. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Cassie Holzum (Production Stage Manager).

Hope to see you there!

Auditions: Peter and the Starcatcher

Announcing PETER AND THE STARCATCHER auditions! They are August 29 and 30, 7:00-10:00pm. You can sign up for a time slot and find more information on the sign up website.

This fall, the Program in Educational Theatre at NYU will proudly present PETER & THE STARCATCHER, featuring an ensemble of developmentally diverse performers.

PETER & THE STARCATCHER is “a new play about our hero of old (…).” Before Wendy, before Neverland, & yes, before Peter Pan, there was Molly (a girl on the brink of everything—our intrepid hero) & there was Boy (a nameless, homeless, & friendless child so cast down he’d begun to fear his own shadow), whose story begins on the deck of a ship. Boy & his schoolmates are shipped off from Victorian England and sold to the evil king of a distant island. While at sea, the orphans are discovered by Molly & together they identify a mysterious trunk full of Starstuff (a celestial substance so powerful it must not fall into the wrong hands). So, when their ship is suddenly overtaken—seized by the fearsome pirate Black Stache, who’s determined to claim the trunk & its treasure for his own—Molly, the Boy, & his mates resolve to protect the Starstuff… embarking on the adventure of a lifetime.

Our Production: An acting company of developmentally diverse performers will collaborate to fashion a captivating theatrical event accessible to audience members of all abilities.

Often described as a “love letter to the theatre,” PETER & THE STARCATCHER’s dynamic book, by Rick Elise, is an ideal playground for collaborative theatre-makers—perfectly situated to showcase both source material & ensemble. Grounded in the aesthetics of Story Theatre, the world of PETER & THE STARCATCHER is uniquely defined (& redefined) by its players—invoking the collective imagination as found objects, architecture, & other elements of the everyday transform before our eyes. Essentially… everybody plays everything!!! PETER & THE STARCATCHER is, at its heart, an origin story—a pre-history of Pan that has, at its end, a 100-year old beginning (read: this adventure has little to do with being & everything to do with becoming). Our production will be, first & foremost, a love letter to the journey… to personal discovery & self-acceptance—a celebration of the attributes & aptitudes of each individual onstage that, in true Story Theatre fashion, blurs the lines between exposition, scenework, & personal narrative.

NYU’s Program in Educational Theatre encourages performers with & without developmental differences to audition & will provide reasonable accommodations to all individuals who request them. In order to audition, please prepare two sides from different categories from this document. If you have any questions, please reach out to Cassie Holzum (Production Stage Manager and Assistant Director)

If you cannot find a time slot that works for you, we will be accepting walk-ins on a first come, first served basis.
Callbacks will be on Saturday, Sept. 1st 12pm – 5pm and Tuesday, Sept. 4th 7pm – 10pm. Please let me know if you have any further questions!

OF A CERTAIN AGE to Examine the Lives of Aging Actors Through Reversed Casting

Could experiencing the lives of aging performing artists through young actors cause people to rethink their beliefs about aging and disrupt implicit biases? Of a Certain Age-a verbatim performance comprised of eight students portraying 16 performing artists and professionals over the age of 65-will explore this concept through performances at the Provincetown Playhouse from Friday, February 23 to Sunday, March 4.

Suzy Jane Hunt, Josh Batty, and Keith Morris on stage during technical rehearsals.

Suzy Jane Hunt, Josh Batty, and Keith Morris on stage during technical rehearsals.

The experimental performance replicates the voices, intonations, and gestures of aging actors, commentators, and professionals based on interview transcripts, audio recordings, and field notes. Of a Certain Age is a production of NYU Steinhardt’s Program in Educational Theatre in collaboration with The Actors Fund, an organization providing assistance to the entertainment community, and NYU Steinhardt’s Verbatim Performance Lab. Joe Salvatore, playwright and clinical associate professor of educational theatre at Steinhardt, created the play utilizing verbatim performance techniques similar to those in the Off-Broadway production,Her Opponent, an ethnodramatic re-staging of excerpts of the 2016 presidential debates co-created with economist Maria Guadalupe (INSEAD) in 2017.

Eight students conducted interviews with 37 performing artists-ranging from a back up singer for George Michael to an original cast member from West Side Story on Broadway-about their experiences growing older in an industry that has traditionally favored youth. Students will perform interview excerpts word for word and exactly replicate interviewees as they discuss the struggle to land roles, sexism in the industry, forced retirement, age typecasting, and more.

This image shows excerpts from the interview transcripts being re-organized by theme in preparation for putting together a draft of the script.

Piecing the script together.

Salvatore said casting choices were designed to disrupt audience expectations. In one scene, a young man depicts an older woman while a second actor on stage discusses being overlooked for voiceover roles, as these are typically given to men.

“Verbatim performance gives us an opportunity to reexamine how we think about aging. Watching gender-reversed and age-reversed actors perform these roles while in dialogue about sexism and ageism forces the audience to challenge their subconscious beliefs. How do we think about actors or celebrities over the age of 65 and how does this change when their experiences are portrayed by young people? The casting deliberately includes moments to shake up the audience’s perceptions; the theatricality is always present,” Salvatore said.

Salvatore said these choices cause an ‘alienation effect’ which forces the audience to reflect on what is being presented in critical and objective ways, rather than simply being immersed in the performance as they would with more a traditional play. This process of ‘making the familiar strange’ helps audiences to challenge their implicit biases and intolerances.

The performance also includes interview excerpts with writer and activist Ashton Applewhite, who recently gave a TED Talk about ageism as the last socially acceptable prejudice. The actor portraying Applewhite discusses the pejorative ways aging celebrities are discussed and structural discrimination in the industry.

Traci DiGesu, Senior Program Volunteer and Activities Coordinator at The Actors Fund, said the project helped participants feel heard by the next generation and discuss prejudices that affect artists of all ages.

“I was hearing from my clients about their experiences of ageism and feeling invisible, but I was also hearing a lot of good stories about how much they were still enjoying their work. It’s important for them to maintain their identities as artists and this project presented a terrific opportunity for participants to talk about their lives with student researchers who were genuinely interested,” DiGesu said.

The project is part of NYU Steinhardt’s newly formed Verbatim Performance Lab, which is committed to using verbatim performance techniques as an investigative tool to challenge and disrupt preconceived notions, implicit biases, and intolerances across a spectrum of political, cultural, and social beliefs and experiences.

“Of a Certain Age” runs Friday, February 23 and Saturday, February 24 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, February 25 at 3 p.m.; Thursday, March 1 to Saturday, March 3 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, March 4 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 general admission and $5 for students and seniors. For tickets, contact NYU Box Office at tickets.nyu.edu, call212.998.4941, or visit in person at 566 LaGuardia Place (at Washington Square South).

“Of a Certain Age” is directed by Joe Salvatore and assistant directed by Andy Wagner. It features scenic design by Andy Hall, lighting design by Daryl Embry and Leah Cohen, sound design by Darren Whorton, props by Sven Nelson, and costumes by Márion Talán. The dramaturg is Sarah Bellantoni and theraturg is Traci DiGesu. The production stage manager is Cassie Holzum and assistant stage manager is Jiawen Hu, with research and assistance from Han Yu. The cast features NYU Steinhardt students Rai Arsa Artha, Josh Batty, Megan Conway, Sherill-Marie Henriquez, Suzy Jane Hunt (appears courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association), Keith Morris, Amalia Ritter, and Hayley Sherwood.

Steinhardt’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions, established in 1925, instructs over 1,600 students majoring in music and performing arts programs. Music and Performing Arts Professions serves as NYU’s “school” of music and is a major research and practice center in music technology, music business, music composition, film scoring, songwriting, music performance practices, performing arts therapies, and the performing arts-in-education (music, dance, and drama)

Link to original post on BroadwayWorld.com

NYU Steinhardt to Stage ‘HEAR THEM ROAR’ to Commemorate 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage in NY

Poster advertising the production.NYU Steinhardt’s Program in Educational Theatre will stage two events this month to celebrate the women of New York State winning the right to vote a century ago, exploring the historical context through the individuals who fought for the cause.

A newly created play entitled Hear Them Roar: The Fight for Women’s Rights investigates the untold stories of the suffragists of 1917, including women of color, immigrants, and the men (or “suffragents“) who helped win the vote.

Under the direction of Nan Smithner, clinical associate professor of educational theatre at NYU Steinhardt, the play was devised by an ensemble of 15 actors, who wrote and created the scenarios by deeply researching historical facts of the time.

The show is conceived as an environmental theatre performance, with historical scenes related to the struggle for women’s rights taking place in Washington Square Park. These scenes are connected thematically in Pless Hall’s Black Box Theatre to present day issues.

The audience for Hear Them Roar: The Fight for Women’s Rights will meet at the Black Box Theatre, located at 82 Washington Square East (entrance on Washington Place), and will stroll from scene to scene throughout the performance. Audience members should dress warmly and wear comfortable shoes. In case of rain the performance will move inside Pless Hall.

Hear Them Roar: The Fight for Women’s Rights runs for seven performances between Friday, October 20 and Sunday, October 29. For a list of performance dates and times, visit the NYU Events Calendar. Tickets are $15 general admission and $5 for students and seniors. For tickets, contact NYU Box Office at tickets.nyu.edu, call 212.998.4941, or visit in person at 566 LaGuardia Place (at Washington Square South).

The Thursday, October 26 performance will feature a talk back after the show with Professor Burt Neuborne, who held the Inez Milholland Chair at NYU Law for the past ten years, and NYU Journalism Professor Brooke Kroeger, who wrote the recent book The Suffragents: How Women Used Men to Get the Vote (SUNY Press, 2017).

The Program in Educational Theatre will also present Upon a White Horse, the latest event in its Storytelling Series at the Provincetown Playhouse, produced by storyteller and NYU Steinhardt adjunct professor Regina Ress.

While many fought for women’s suffrage, one woman in particular stands out for her aptitude for drawing attention to the cause: Inez Milholland, a 1912 graduate of the NYU School of Law. Milholland may be best remembered sitting astride a white horse, channeling Joan of Arc, and leading parades down New York City’s Fifth Avenue and Washington, D.C.’s Pennsylvania Avenue to fight for women’s rights.

Called the New York Times’ “Poster Girl of Radicalism,” this labor lawyer, war correspondent, and outspoken crusader for social justice literally worked herself to death for the cause of women’s suffrage. Storyteller Darci Tucker will bring her back to life on Sunday, October 22 at 1 pm at the Provincetown Playhouse (133 Macdougal Street).

Upon a White Horse is free and open to the public, and is appropriate for adults and youth 12 and older. For more information, visit the NYU Events Calendar.

Steinhardt’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions, established in 1925, instructs over 1,600 students majoring in music and performing arts programs. Music and Performing Arts Professions serves as NYU’s “school” of music and is a major research and practice center in music technology, music business, music composition, film scoring, songwriting, music performance practices, performing arts therapies, and the performing arts-in-education (music, dance, and drama).

Link to original post on BroadwayWorld.com

Two Weeks with the Queen Opens Tonight!

Tonight I caught the dress rehearsal for Two Weeks with the Queen, a fantastic show you won’t want to miss!
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Based on a popular Australian novel by Mary Morris, Two Weeks with the Queen is a moving TYA play that appeals to people of all ages. While it explores some serious subject matter, director Philip Taylor ensures that the story is told with humor and warmth to create an uplifting experience about overcoming fear and handling the challenges that life has to offer. Fast paced, funny and skillfully directed, the show highlights a very talented ensemble of actors. Meghan Crosby gleefully and beautifully portrays the spunky and determined 12 year old Colin, while the rest of the gifted cast, including Cheryl Brumley, Maggie Bussard, Brendan Chambers, Eric Gelb and Shannon Stoddard, impressively play a variety of memorable characters. What a pleasure it was seeing them all work together so well, each making strong choices to create many lovely moments on stage.
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The designers and crew also deserve praise, including Daryl Embry’s clever set design, Leah Cohen and Daryl Embry’s appealing lighting, Meaghan Cross’s delightful costumes, and Kari-Noor Thompson’s effective sound design. The production stage manager Sarah Brown, assistant stage manager Jiawen Hu, and assistant director Andrew Gaines are also to be congratulated for their hard work in helping to create this remarkable show.
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Poignant and full of hope, Two Weeks with the Queen is a production with a lot of heart!
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David Montgomery

Poster advertising the production of Two Weeks with the Queen.