Our annual 24-hour play festival, Instant Gratification, kicked off the 2016/2017 school year. Produced by Ashley Hamilton, adjunct faculty and doctoral candidate, the event employed the talents of four student playwrights, 4 student directors, and 11 student actors. Images from the productions follow (photos by Jonathan Jones):
By Micaela Blei
When I was in 7th grade, I was on the JV Spelling Team, and my crush was Varsity. I pined while I spelled. When I heard about musicals in Theatrix, I thought: great fiction comes from life, right? So I proposed a fast-paced love story, set in the corrupt world of middle school competitive spelling.
I met with Rachel Whorton, Theatrix curator, who gave me great advice about story structure. I spoke to my composer, Ynvgil Guttu, on the phone, about tone and style– she lives in Alaska, so our collaboration was by phone. And I got to writing.
Writing short form is rewarding– as in writing formal poetry, or a 350-word blog post for the Ed Theatre blog, every detail has to be important.
Once I had a draft and ideas for three songs, I wrote lyrics, sent them to Yngvil and
received back piano sketches of the tunes. This was an amazing moment– it’s so cool when someone has taken what you wrote and made it sound beautiful! We talked several times, refining things, and I put my script through a brutal doctoring process. (It was WAY TOO COMPLICATED for a 15 minute musical, in its first drafts.)
Theatrix hosted a fantastic workshop day, when all the directors, playwrights and composers got together for a reading of the scripts. This was nerve wracking! We got feedback from classmates which helped refine our next drafts.
Soon after that, it was time for the first read-through with the cast. Yngvil handed out music, the cast read the script, and from there it belonged to them.
I didn’t see it until opening night. It was incredible to see how much work the cast, composer and director had put into the production. This was the first musical I wrote, and also (of course) the first one I’ve seen performed. And what I saw was brilliantly talented people taking some ideas I’d had and making them smarter, funnier and more beautiful. I’m hooked. I’ll see you at Theatrix next year.
Welcome back to the spring, 2013 semester. As students learn to make, perform, evaluate, apply and teach theatre, it is important that they have opportunities to engage with various artistic endeavors that support the rich course work they take in the Program. As such, there are a number of upcoming activities that I’d like to highlight.
For our spring main stage production, The Program in Educational Theatre is pleased to present The Crucible by Arthur Miller in the Provincetown Playhouse. Directed by Philip Taylor, this promises to be a profoundly significant and contemporary production. The Program recently benefited when Michael Earley, an Arthur Miller scholar and president of Rose Buford College in the UK, offered a fascinating lecture on Miller for the cast and other NYU students. Many Educational Theatre students are involved in The Crucible, from the actors to the production team, so you won’t want to miss this exciting theatrical event beginning March 1st. And check out The Crucible blog.
Our signature outreach effort, Shakespeare to Go (STG) continues to bring their exceptional performances of Hamlet to schools across NYC, providing the opportunity for young people to experience a Shakespeare play that is meaningful and engaging. Under the direction of Daryl Embry with a large cast of talented student-actors, STG continues to provide inspiration to hundreds of our city’s young people, many of which will see Shakespeare performed for the first time in their lives thanks to the efforts of STG.
Our Program is invested in bringing new works to new audiences as we strive to really identify how the art form shapes and changes the world. To that end, The Writers’ Roundtable emerged in the fall of 2012, focused on investigating the roles of structure and accountability in the creative processes of playwrights at various stages in their careers, honing in on the particular experiences of young writers from our Program, who were commissioned by the university to write full-length, original work. As part of our mission to develop and present new theatre, Roundtable members delivered eight brand new plays in the fall semester, including two pieces from former Educational Theatre students Emily Kaczmarek and Tyler Grimes. Participating playwrights include: Nikkole Salter, Deborah Zoe Laufer, Joe Salvatore and Greg Kotis. Roundtable members will be presenting new work this spring as well, so stay tuned for further information.
Also this semester, Theatrix! has teamed up with students from the Music Composition program to bring original short plays and musicals to life. These performances will take place in the Blackbox theatre, March 29 – 31. Be sure to join us, as this is the first endeavor of its kind for our program. We feel certain this festival will defy expectations.
The Program applauds the work of Uproar Theatre Corp, the NYU Steinhardt club formed by Educational Theatre students, devoted to producing new theatrical works as well as sponsoring workshops, panels, and theatrical competitions for the Steinhardt community. Please check out their blog and upcoming events.
The Program in Educational Theatre hosts yearly conferences in April for practitioners, artists, scholars, researchers and students who are interested in exploring questions that fuel each year’s conference. Last year’s conference, The Forum on Theatre for Young Audiences, was convened by visiting professor Tony Graham and brought folks from around the globe to the NYU campus to explore TYA practices in depth. This year’s conference, Developing New Works for the Theatre promises to add to our prestigious succession of world-renowned conference events, and students are strongly encouraged to attend. Volunteers are always needed at the conferences as well. Information on several unique opportunities to be involved with the event will be published shortly.
We are also moving into the time of year when NYU students look ahead to consider ways in which to be involved with summer courses and projects. In addition to courses that will be offered on campus, the Program will continue running our award-winning New Plays for Young Audiences (NPYA) series, developing three outstanding new TYA plays. Students should be on the lookout for upcoming announcements regarding auditions for the staged play readings happening in the Provincetown Playhouse this June. Students can also take the accompanying three credit course for the series, Theatre Practices: Problems in Play (MPAET-GE.2152-001), which will be taught by Joe Salvatore. After NPYA ends, the Looking for Shakespeare project will bring secondary students from across the country to the NYU campus to work on and produce a Shakespeare play. This will be directed by Dr. Nancy Smithner, and the accompanying course for this project will allow NYU students to have practical, hands-on experiences working with the young people. The accompanying three credit course is called Creating Youth Theatre Productions (MPAET-GE.2982-001) and will also be taught by Nancy Smithner.
The London study abroad curriculum is taking shape with a new initiative in TYA being launched at Rose Bruford College, and with the Heathcote conference at University of Greenwich. Theatre visits to the Globe, the RSC, WestEnd, Unicorn, OilyCart, the fringe and more will also be a part of this program being led by Dr. Philip Taylor. Following the London course, NYU students in Dublin will work with Ireland’s finest drama practitioners and theatre artists, exploring community-engaged theatre with affiliations through Upstate Theatre and the Samuel Beckett Centre at Trinity College in Dublin. Under the leadership of Joe Salvatore, skills to be explored include facilitation, devising, and playwriting/adaptation, along with approaches to using dramatic activities to create context for theatre work. Having just returned from leading the January Intersession program in Puerto Rico with NYU students, I’m happy to report that the Educational Theatre Program continues to be the finest institution in our field for global studies. Our study abroad programs consistently provide transformative experiences for students, and for more insight into Puerto Rico program, please check out the Theatre Practices in Puerto Rico blog with entries written by Educational Theatre students.
So there’s a lot to look forward this semester, and this summer. I encourage Educational Theatre students to get involved wherever possible, for the artistic possibilities of collaboration that involve faculty, students, alumni, and guest artists compel explorations that are the best means for achieving artistic growth. I want to thank the top-notch Educational Theatre adjunct faculty, as well as my colleagues Philip Taylor, Nan Smithner, Joe Salvatore, Amy Cordileone and Jonathan Jones for helping launch another exhilarating year in Educational Theatre. Have a great semester everyone!
David Montgomery, PhD
Director, The Program in Educational Theatre
By Marco Santarelli
In spring 2012, NYU Steinhardt presented Theatrix! A Festival of 10-Minute Plays for the fourth consecutive year. While constantly evolving, the festival remains dedicated to the creation and production of student work in both Educational Theater’s undergraduate and graduate community. Unique to this year’s Theatrix! is its evolution into an intense and liberating form under the guidance of Amy Cordileone, the festival’s curator, who encouraged the participants to take risks in writing, directing, and performing their work.
Being chosen as a playwright for this year’s festival was an indescribable honor, albeit a nerve-shattering experience. It gave me an opportunity to take my creative process to a new and professional level. Instead of the usual “write something and see how it sounds” approach I normally take when writing, the Threatrix! team gave me specific guidelines, schedules, and even a playwriting mentor to keep me on task and help take my play from the page to the stage.
Before the plays were chosen, each playwright had to select a director to take on the role of casting and see the piece to completion. I had the honor of working with my friend and classmate, Jack Dod, who approached his role with enthusiasm and professionalism. For this totally collaborative effort, the Theatrix! team set up workshops, readings, panels, and a one-on-one mentorship for the playwright and director, giving them advice and encouragement during the long and strenuous process. What was most exciting to me, and to most of the students involved, was the playwriting panel sponsored by the Uproar Theater Corps.The panel consisted of three professional playwrights who spoke about their experience in the theater to the Steinhardt students and faculty. I was impressed with their unwavering dedication to their craft and was honored to have had the opportunity to discuss my play with them and to learn from them. I believe this instilled a surge of new energy into the process, as each playwright and director followed up by attacking his or her play with vitality, polishing and refining the work with the audience’s enjoyment in mind.
On a personal level, I had the opportunity to work with Daphie Sicre as my playwriting mentor. Her copious notes, as well as her comments and questions, helped me to see the work through the eyes of another playwright and audience member as we moved toward opening night. This was very important to me as my play, Dandelions for Angels, is loosely based on a difficult personal experience, so having a voice not connected to the subject was exactly what I needed. I’m thankful to Daphie, Amy, and the entire Theatrix! team for giving me the opportunity to revisit the months I spent lying in a hospital bed, following surgery for a brain tumor, and to bring my story, and the story of countless others, to the public. I am truly grateful for the Educational Theater community’s tireless efforts in and dedication to this collaborative process and for the opportunity to participate in this festival, which has provided one of the best experiences of my life.
Theatrix! was established as a student-run play festival for students in the Program in Educational Theatre in 2003. In its current incarnation, the play festival involves the writing and performing of student-written ten-minute plays.