today VOL25 NUM 2 2011
in memoriam p26
Your Family Theatre. Your Family Experience.
tya today Vol25 NUM2 2011
Nancy Swortzell teaching a creative drama class in Nashville, TN, with children before the NYU program was instituted. Photo: Lowell and Nancy Swortzell Papers, Child Drama Collection, Arizona State University Libraries.
On Bullying and Activating Social Change By Jeremy Kisling
photo call 9
Pinkalicious: The Musical Compiled by Doug Cooney
Community Engagement: An Exploration of How Three TYA Companies Discover Purpose, Inspiration, and Social Change By Julia Ashworth
Notes from the playing field – on walls, pattern recognition, and re-imagining By Kim Peter Kovac
in memoriam 26
Nancy Swortzell Introduction by Doug Cooney and Kim Peter Kovac
Scene from Treasure Island, March 2010 • Photo by Donna Bise
Technology and the Theatre Teaching Artist By Matt Omasta Located at ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center™
Photo from last season’s production of Peter Pan
Photo by Donna Bise
Seattle Children’s Theatre students in a staged reading of a bully play. Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle, WA. Photo by Megan Ann Rasmussen.
Photo from last season’s production of Lyle the Crocodile. Photo by Donna Bise. th
Join us for our 64 season of award-winning professional productions and education programs inspiring confidence and creativity. Visit our website for complete season, class and camp details. Company of the Year
Creative Loafing 2010 Theatre Awards
2011 Thomas DeGaetani Award
United States Institute for Theatre Technology
Best Live Performance Charlotte Parent 2011 Reader Favorite
Children’s Theatre of Charlotte is located at ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center™ 300 E. 7th St. Charlotte, NC 28202 • Main 704-973-2800 • Customer Sales & Service 704-973-2828
Transforming the way people experience children’s theatre... Learn more at www.ctcharlotte.org
book review 38
The Art of Active Dramaturgy: Transforming Critical Thought into Dramatic Action By Lenora Inez Brown Reviewed by Faedra Chatard Carpenter
coda 42 TYA Today is a journal published by TYA/USA, a nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation founded in 1965, which is the United States Center for the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People. It is the only theatre organization in the United States which has the development of professional theatre for young audiences and international exchange as its primary mandates. Statement of Policy The comments and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the official policies and standards of TYA/USA.
Re-Imagining a Brand By Tamara Goldbogen
Membership Information or Additional Copies Theatre for Young Audiences/USA c/o The Theatre School DePaul University 2135 N. Kenmore Ave Chicago, IL 60614-4100 (773) 325-7981 email: email@example.com www.tyausa.org
empowering theatre for young audiences
We welcome your comments and opinions. Please send any reader responses to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vol25 NUM2 2011
TYA/USA Board of Directors Elissa Adams The Children’s Theatre Company Megan Alrutz The University of Texas at Austin Michael Bobbitt Secretary, TYA/USA Adventure Theatre Doug Cooney Playwright Julia Flood Eckerd Theatre Company Stan Foote Oregon Children’s Theatre Jeff Frank First Stage Children’s Theater Tamara Goldbogen The University of Pittsburgh Brian Guehring Officer-at-Large, TYA/USA Omaha Theater Company Marty Johnson iTheatrics David Kilpatrick The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Barry Kornhauser The Fulton Theatre Kim Peter Kovac Representative to ASSITEJ International, TYA/USA The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Steve Martin Childsplay Gillian McNally University of Northern Colorado Ruth Mercado-Zizzo Treasurer, TYA/USA Citi Performing Arts Center Rosemary Newcott Alliance Theatre Ernie Nolan Vice President of Communications, TYA/USA Emerald City Theatre Company/ DePaul University Joette Pelster Vice President, TYA/USA Coterie Theatre
Colleen Porter PlayhouseSquare Megan Ann Rasmussen President, TYA/USA Firehouse Productions Karen Sharp Vice President, TYA/USA Seattle Children’s Theatre Daphnie Sicre New York University Pamela Sterling Arizona State University Deborah Wicks La Puma Composer Honorary Board Members Scot Copeland Nat Eek Harold R. Oaks Ann Shaw TYA/USA Executive Director Chris Garcia Peak
For information on advertising, sponsorship, or membership please contact: Chris Garcia Peak, Executive Director email@example.com Thank you to The Theatre School at DePaul University for their generous hosting of the TYA/USA office. For more information on TYA/USA please visit www.tyausa.org
Produce a Little MagiK. The Magik Theatre has a large catalog of original scripts
TYA Today Staff Meggin Stailey Managing Editor Meghann Henry Editorial Associate Talleri McRae Book Review Editor Rebecca Podsednik Photo Editor Brenda Elliott Design and Production Courtney Blackwell and Anne Negri Editorial Assistants Publications Committee Megan Alrutz Doug Cooney, Chair Julia Flood David Kilpatrick Kim Peter Kovac Pamela Sterling
written for youth and families. Originally performed on The Magik Theatre stage, these scripts of various topics and characters have been enjoyed by children and families from all over Texas and across the country. Visit our website for a list and description of plays. For a perusal script or more information, contact Richard Rosen or Dave Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling The Magik Theatre at 210-227-2751.
Alice & Wonderland: A Rock Opera Benito’s Dream Bottle Jungle Book The Kid Who Ran For President Nutcrackers Phantom of the Alamo Pocahontas Roxaboxen Who Let the Ghosts Out? Peter and Wendy and many others!
San Antonio’s Premier Professional Theatre 420 South Alamo Street, San Antonio, TX 78205 210.227.2751 | magiktheatre.org
LISTEN UP! Hey! You! Yeah, you! What are you doing here? You know you don’t belong here! We don’t let your kind in here! GET OUT!
Change By Jeremy Kisling
Gayle Sergel from Dramatic Publishing talking about a new Bullying Anthology. One Theatre World 2011, Seattle WA. Photo by Megan Ann Rasmussen.
ave you ever suffered this kind of attack? You’re not alone. Each year, 3.7 million youth engage in bullying, and more than 3.2 million are victims of “moderate” or “serious” bullying, according to the American Medical Association. Studies indicate between 15 and 25 percent of U.S. students are frequently bullied; 15 to 20 percent report frequently bullying others. In any academic year, roughly one-fourth of students report having been harassed or bullied on school property based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. Statistics show that every seven minutes a child on an elementary playground is bullied. What can theatre artists do about bullying in schools? For one thing, we can listen. In a recent post-workshop discussion at Lexington Children’s Theatre, young people talked about intolerance. “If you’re different in any way it creates tension,” said one student, “so people try to separate themselves from those they perceive as different.” Another young person observed, “People who bully lack something in their lives and are just trying to be more popular. Any kind of power over others makes them feel better about themselves.” Yet another said, “I believe they feel discomfort or anguish in their own lives so they try to take that out on others. They need to spurn other people they perceive as weak to lift themselves up.” “Too often teachers and parents treat acts of bullying as inconsequential and as some kind of rite of passage,” a student commented. “They say ‘that’s just kids being kids.’ They don’t truly address the problem and nothing changes.” The experience of listening to such discussions reminds one that young people are amazing. They struggle to navigate the world and its idiosyncrasies. They struggle to understand themselves and their place in the world. They deal with parents, family, peers, friends, teachers, and themselves. Young people are discovering who they are, what they think, and where they fit into the “societal norm.” In most cases, young people think and believe what they do because they’ve been told to do so, aligning with their parents’ morals and values. These discussions also serve to remind theatre artists who work with young people of our responsibility. As theatre artists, we must use the tools of our craft to initiate dialogue and examination. Through our performances and interactive drama workshops, we raise questions and provide the opportunities for young people to grapple with the issues surrounding bullying and to embrace tolerance and civility. It is not our job to provide a prescription, antidote, or cure, but rather to raise the topic and facilitate discussions so that young people generate their own opinions and beliefs. As responsible artists and citizens, we need to promote the ideas of civility and community among young people. In April 2011, Theatre for Young Audiences/USA partnered with the American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE) to create Dramatic Change: An Anti-Bullying Initiative. As concerned theatre artists, this
coalition seeks to raise the profile of anti-bullying work by TYA artists around the country. Many theatre organizations already address the issue through productions, workshops, and applied theatre programs. Many theatres and individual artists are already concerned about the civility and tolerance of young people. The goal of Dramatic Change is to support and encourage the work already being done and to provide a vehicle to present a unified stance and a higher profile for our collective efforts. The initiative places the TYA field into the national consciousness about anti-bullying work and invites participants to the dialogue we have already forged with young people and their communities. Dramatic Change is not a mandated program for anyone, anywhere. It does not promote easy or trite answers. Theatre artists know not to tell young people what to think. Instead, we use theatre to facilitate discussion and examine the issues that surround bullying, tolerance, and civility. We tell the stories, raise awareness, explore topics, and investigate underlying values and beliefs through the dramatic process. The goal of Dramatic Change is to use theatre as an art form to build community and to combat bullying. The technological advances of today’s society and the burden of self-promotion cause us to isolate ourselves, but as a community, we have strength and diversity. It is natural in our work to build a strong and supportive ensemble. Theatre artists work diligently to promote an environment where every person’s opinion and idea is heard. We need to encourage listening. We know well that a safe space must be created in order for true discourse to occur. Tolerance and civility are the keys to combating bullying in our communities. Will the efforts of Dramatic Change have an effect on young people? How can it not? Theatre artists care about the young people in our theatres and classrooms. The respect, tolerance, and civility that are inherent in our theatres, rehearsals, workshops, and productions can serve to model civil behavior for young people. We trust that the dramatic process can promote an examination of the underlying issues regarding bullying. By sharing resources and working together, we can encourage a dialogue of tolerance to begin. We want your involvement! If you have a production, an applied theatre piece, a workshop, or just want to support Dramatic Change, please visit tyausa.org or aate.com. On August 8th, 2012 the American Alliance for Theatre and Education and TYA/USA will host a Dramatic Change pre-conference event to examine current work and programs that concentrate on anti-bullying efforts. Jeremy Kisling has taught, directed, and performed for young people in Iowa, Texas, Washington, and Kentucky and is the Associate Artistic Director in charge of Education at Lexington Children’s Theatre.
empowering theatre for young audiences
Pinkalicious: The Musical Pinkalicious: The Musical, based on the popular children’s book by Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann, tells the story of a little girl who turns pink, then red and back to normal again after eating too many pink cupcakes. Adapted by its authors, with music and additional lyrics by John Gregor, Pinkalicious is spreading “pinkitus” at theatres across the country.
Licensing the best plays and musicals
Photo by Owen Carey
Photo by Tom McGrath
with a 21st century approach
Free perusal scripts Fast electronic delivery Award-winning plays and authors
Photo by Michael Brosilow
for young actors and audiences
regon Children Theatre Company’s production of Pinkalicious tackles the title character’s transformation with “four very quick costume changes,” director Stan Foote explains, handled with wig changes, a simple industrial zipper and “layers of socks and tights to change the color of the actress’s arms and legs.” Costume designer Ashton Edmonds employs dynamic textures and layered fabrics to create eye-popping costumes that reach the back rows of an 880 seat house. As an added benefit, Foote notes, “the teen actresses put on the dresses and instantly become little girls.”
merald City Theatre’s Pinkalicious recently transferred to Chicago’s Broadway Playhouse. Inspired by the underlying book, director Ernie Nolan “created a pastel colored, suburban ‘pinkatopia.’” Costume designer Nathan Rohrer added a sassy spin on the frilly elements of the book’s illustrations. Pinkalicious’ trademark Converse sneakers, for example, shift from their original yellow to a glittery pair of sneakers as the character transforms to pink and then red. Even though she “dresses to the nines” under the spell of “pinkitis,” the creative team retains a spunky, youthful vitality in Pinkalicious’s character.
ntent to reflect the diversity of “all the little girls in the audience who love the color pink,” Lisa Portes, artistic director of Chicago Playworks at DePaul University, cast a black actress, Kerry Erin Sloan, in the title role of Pinkalicious. Portes consulted DePaul’s diversity officer, Dexter Zollicoffer, “to make sure we weren’t unintentionally sending the message that a black girl wanted to be Caucasian (‘pink’).” Working with costume designer Greta White, director and actress settled on “a very bright almost fuscial pink” make-up that would not read as “white face” so much as to suggest that the character “really loves the color pink.”
empowering theatre for young audiences
(l-r) Richie Uminski and Shannon Hensley in A Thousand Cranes by Kathryn Schultz Miller. Brigham Young University, Provo, UT. Michael G. Handley/BYU.
An Exploration Of How Three
I community engagement
TYA Companies Discover Purpose, Inspiration, And Social Change
n winter 2010, at the beginning of its rehearsal process, Brigham Young University’s (BYU) Young Company traveled two hours to visit the Japanese American WWII Internment camp, Topaz, outside Delta, Utah. The remote camp has no windbreak for miles around and often falls prey to dust storms. The Topaz mountain range is in the far distance with no trees on the horizon. The weather in this area reaches both extremes for Utah’s climate - as high as 106 degrees in the summer and as low as 30 degrees below zero in the winter. Braced against the cold, the explorations of Young Company’s director, stage manager, and actors yielded countless signs of past lives, all of them broken or damaged. A few building foundations stood amongst bottles, toys, and rusted nails. One particular lost item stood out - a small, cracked, and stained porcelain doll’s arm. For the Young Company, this arm became a symbol for Sadako Sasaki, the central character in its production of A Thousand Cranes by Kathryn Shultz Miller. The play tells the story of a 12-year-old girl who believed that if she could fold 1,000 paper cranes she would be cured of leukemia, a disease caused by the Hiroshima atomic bombing in 1945. In the summer of 2009, the Young Company partnered with the Topaz Museum in the hopes that its upcoming production of A Thousand Cranes could help the museum move closer to fulfilling part of its
mission “to educate the public in order to prevent a recurrence of a similar denial of American civil rights.” During WWII over 120,000 Japanese Americans were interned in camps similar to Topaz. They were never convicted or charged with a crime yet were incarcerated for up to four years in prison surrounded by barbed wire and guns. As the Young Company strove to tell the story of a young girl who lived decades ago, thousands of miles away, it discovered how essential its partnership with Topaz was to the group. Because both of these stories require remembrance and forgiveness, the artists were no longer removed from A Thousand Cranes by thousands of miles. Because both of these stories involve immeasurable injustices that would be easier to forget, they were no longer removed from A Thousand Cranes by something that happened to “other” people. Because both of these stories tell tales of death and suffering that will not improve the quality of anyone’s life, they were no longer removed from A Thousand Cranes by the inevitable effects of war. Standing together in that space, where thousands were unjustly sent to live in dreadful conditions, the Young Company understood that a story similiar to Sadako’s pain and suffering took place in their own backyard. As artists, their role was not only to remember but to help others remember too. Caitlin Cotten, who played the role of Sadako’s mother, said
By Julia Ashworth
empowering theatre for young audiences
Neighborhood Bridges Classroom with Adventure Stage Chicago, Chicago IL. Photo by Merissa Shunk.
COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS FOSTER ARTISTIC INSPIRATION
this of her experience: “[The play] became personal for me as we visited [Topaz] and were able to tour the actual site a few times. Each encounter with the Japanese American prisoners and their stories gave me a deeper conviction that the message of peace in A Thousand Cranes and their individual stories needed and always need to be told to prevent future mistakes.” These students’ role as citizen artists began this day.
The Young Company has toured to Utah elementary schools and community organizations in the Provo and Salt Lake City areas for nearly 30 years. For much of that time it has followed a traditional touring schedule, focusing primarily on the production itself. The Young Company, in an effort to more fully engage its audience, began to broaden its focus by introducing children and teachers to study guides and post-performance workshops in the past few years. In 2010, the Young Company decided the addition of a community partner would allow even more audience members to connect with the subject and significance of its production and ultimately with each other.
Like the Young Company, other TYA companies are beginning to explore ways to engage in community partnerships where theatre practitioners actively take on the role of citizen artist - this role requires a commitment to empowering community members through the artist’s talents and skills. Taking on this role brings companies such offerings as an increased sense of purpose, inspiration, and community revitalization.
COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS HELP BRING PURPOSE TO A TYA COMPANY
of its mission, as it “nurtures, educates, and inspires children and families in need to take personal responsibility and attain self-sufficiency.”
When TYA companies begin partnering with the community, several inevitable questions arise. Considering the amount of additional time, planning, and resources, will this engagement bring mutual reward? Why would a traditional TYA company change its methodology to use theatre as a tool to address social issues? Will the potential challenges faced in this type of work outweigh the benefits? These are the types of questions Adventure Stage Chicago (ASC) asked as it began a community partnership with Northwestern University Settlement House (NUSH) this past year. Producing Artistic Director Tom Arvetis describes the partnership as “the integration of social service and artistic practice.” This is a partnership that Arvetis hopes will help bring purpose to ASC as a TYA company.
When asked about the function of settlement houses, Arvetis says, “often times the communities that they’re serving are immigrant populations, and these are folks that are new to the country, they don’t speak the language, they have a great number of obstacles in front of them, and the settlement houses are there to help them navigate those challenges and empower them ultimately to become self-sufficient.” While ASC and NUSH have been neighbors for nearly 10 years, they have only recently begun to partner together. Even in the early stages of this partnership, ASC is beginning to see some encouraging effects of its change in artistic focus. Unexpectedly, this included new funding doors opening up to them. This funding comes primarily from arts funders who have a commitment to social justice. Arvetis admits how surprised he has been to receive additional funding by altering ASC’s focus. Arvetis explains, “In making this shift … we’ve gotten a lot of interest from some funding organizations that we were never able to tap into before. So, suddenly, my program is able to address needs that funders see as being [important] in a way that, when we were exclusively focused on production, we were not able to do.” Arvetis also said that while the new partnership includes some potential challenges to long-term company artists, it promises to eventually define the company, noting, “I think it’s going to challenge everyone’s reason for being here. In the best ways I think it will bring into significant focus why we do what we do.” As members of ASC begin to embrace the role of citizen artist, they gain a new TYA identity.
ASC is not an independent theatre company in residence but is a program funded by NUSH. As ASC seeks to build on its traditional TYA programming to include more community engagement with NUSH, Arvetis explains that “for 8 years we have had a real difficult time engaging [NUSH community members]. We have had more success actually bringing in folks from other communities.” He goes on to say, “This is the community in which we live. This is the building in which we reside. These folks are in and out of this building on a regular basis. We need to have a relationship with them. They need to understand that we are a resource because we really see the arts … serving a functional purpose, this is not necessarily just entertainment.” ASC hopes its new partnership can help NUSH move closer to reaching the goals
As the Young Company began its partnership with Topaz Museum, one of the immediate benefits it enjoyed was the inspiration received from the museum’s artwork. Many significant pieces of art were created at Topaz, including those by Miné Okubo and Chiura Obata. A unique element to this specific camp was the large number of artists interned and the art school they formed. Sixteen artists taught 23 subjects to over 600 students. Obata was the founder and director of the art school; prior to internment he was a professor of art at UC Berkeley for over 10 years. Along with some never before seen pieces by Obata and
Okubo, Topaz Museum also has in its collection over 120,000 paper cranes produced in Egan, Minnesota by 15-year-old Michelle Reed. The cranes represent each Japanese American interned during WWII. Since the museum lacked the space to display and share many of its artifacts, the Young Company sought ways to provisionally remedy this. One of the most meaningful outcomes of the Young Company’s partnership with Topaz was the combined opening of A Thousand Cranes and the world premiere of the exhibition of Topaz artwork and Reed’s 120,313 Cranes for Peace Memorial. The Young Company and BYU’s Department of Visual Arts were motivated by the community partnership to work together to organize this massive undertaking. Invited attendees included Topaz internees, descendants of internees, and Minnesota native, Reed. Through this exhibit the Young Company was able to explore the role of a citizen artist with multiple communities involved with and connected to the Topaz Museum. Also affected by the partnership were the production designers involved with A Thousand Cranes. Their designs for the show were inspired by artwork from the camp. The masks, costumes, and set of A Thousand Cranes were inspired by the colors and style Obata used in his paintings. This gave the designers the opportunity to also play the role of citizen artist
“In the best ways I think it will bring into significant focus why we do what we do.” - Tom Arvetis Cast from Sinbad: The Untold Tale by Charles Way participates in post-show talkback following a performance. Adventure Stage Chicago, Chicago, IL. Photo provided by Jennifer Mathews.
empowering theatre for young audiences
The cast of Stories of a New America by the members of Collective Consciousness Theatre. Collective Consciousness Theatre, New Haven, CT. Photo by Stephanie Anestis.
“And so we became a community, and we became friends.” - Dexter Singleton
by paying tribute to the work of a great artist and allow his once captive voice to be heard. As A Thousand Cranes began its tour, Topaz’s voice was heard once again in the production’s study guides and post-performance workshops. Actors and dramaturgs involved in creating the educational materials were inspired by the message of peace and awareness Topaz sends, one that continued to ride on the shoulders of Young Company’s citizen artists as they worked with thousands of children and young people that semester.
BUILDING ON EXISTING COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS GIVES TYA COMPANIES OPPORTUNITY TO AFFECT AUTHENTIC CHANGE Two years ago Collective Consciousness Theatre (CCT) decided to delve even deeper into multifaceted community partnerships with its New Haven, Connecticut organization. Dexter Singleton, CCT executive director, said, “As an artist, it’s our responsibility to engage people in what’s going on in the world … and theatre should be about creating community and creating dialogue. For me, [community engagement] is important for any artist that comes into our loop. I think some of them think that they’re going to come in and just do a play, and they find out it’s so much more than that, because we’re engaged in community all the time.” Citizen artists are interested in empowering their own community through their craft. This philosophy has the power to expand and increase the idea of what TYA is. It does this by moving TYA from
THE BENEFITS OF COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP
At this point, CCT found the process of collecting interviews very natural. “We had built a community,” said Singleton. “We knew people on a first name basis. We could literally call people up. We found out that some of these guys lived in our neighborhoods. One guy lived right on the next block from me. And so we became a community, and we became friends. We started to set up a lot of one-on-one interviews with people where we would meet them at their homes, we would meet them at IRIS, we would meet them at their jobs, basically anywhere we could go. We ended up speaking to about 85 refugees from all these different countries from around the world.” From a partnership that CCT built and expanded upon, the production Stories of a New America was born, a production that Singleton says, “IRIS felt … was the most beneficial program they had ever had for their clients.” From the simple question, “Wouldn’t it be a great idea to learn more?” raised by a citizen artist, CCT was able to build on the existing community relationship they had with IRIS to affect even more authentic change in its community.
While this is just a sample of the benefits of community partnership, it is clear TYA companies of all types are beginning to recognize the value of the citizen artist. Other companies may find similar opportunities to engage with community - ways that are not only unique to the company and the community but that have the power to uniquely enhance the reasons why a company operates, what a company has the potential to do as artists, and who companies have the power to reach.
Julia Ashworth teaches and supervises undergraduate students in BYU’s pre-service theatre teacher training program. Her work focuses on youth and family theatre and applied theatre practices.
its tradition of being primarily in the service of theatre performance and production to include being in the service of the specific needs of partnering community members. Since CCT opened its doors in 2001, its work has been written and performed with community members at its heart. In 2009 the company performed an adaptation of The Giving Tree for its Books Alive project. CCT dramatized the classic book, gave audience members copies, and provided dinner for the families in attendance. Singleton describes what happened during a performance of The Giving Tree with Immigrant Refugee and Integrated Services (IRIS). “We’re presenting this to families there, and one of our artists said, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be a great idea to learn more about their stories?’ We have refugees that are from Iraq, the Congo, Afghanistan, Cuba, Chad just so many different countries around the world. We thought, wow, that’s a great idea.” “IRIS,” Singleton says, “serves hundreds and hundreds of refugees that come through here in New Haven to be resettled … it gives them [job search support, food, and monthly stipends] for up to a year.” He knew that developing a theatrical partnership with this community would be unique and thus found an opportunity to build trust by holding what he called “community meetings” for nearly six months. “We didn’t know quite where we wanted to go in the first community meeting,” said Singleton. “We just wanted to find out more about their culture and their lives. We never wanted to be looked at as outsiders, we never wanted to be looked at as people who were just interviewing them, getting the material, and then taking it and putting it into a play.” For the better part of a year, community members would act, play, sing, dance and eat together. All were artists.
The CUNY School of Professional Studies
in partnership with the
Creative Arts Team is pleased to offer a unique graduate degree
M.A. IN APPLIED THEATRE First degree of its kind in the United States!
Using theatre to FACILITATE ~ EDUCATE ~ ACTIVATE For more information, contact: Matt Freeman, M.A. Program Manager 212.652.2820 or Matt.Freeman@mail.cuny.edu or visit: http://www.sps.cuny.edu/programs/maat
empowering theatre for young audiences
Congratulations AATE 2011 Distinguished Play Award winners The K of D- Dark comedy by Laura Schellhardt.
“See it before it disappears, like the great urban legend it says that it is. But on the way home you will ask yourself about the narrator, where she is now, and then you will realize the real story behind the legend. That’s when you will see how the tale of Charlotte McGraw and (the kiss of death) is better than the one about alligators in N.Y. toilets. And it will creep you out. Big time.” — DC Theatre Scene
The K of D
Great plays from David Wood, named the UK's 'National Children's Dramatist' by The Times James and the Giant Peach
Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish
4m, 2f plus children's chorus (optional)
Children's musical / Large Felxible cast
Whizzpopping wonder and fruit filled fun abound in this stage adaptation of Roald Dahl's greatest adventure story. James is a lonely young boy who is forced to work like a slave for the most revolting aunts in England. One day a mystical old man gives him a bag of magic. When he accidently spills it near the old peach tree, the most incredible things happen!
Here is a topical musical for young people based on the best selling book. Man destroys his world through misuse and disrespect, only to search for a replacement in the stars. In his absence dinosaurs and animals restore Earth's former beauty. When men return to claim the planet, they are reminded that it is the same decaying Earth they abandoned. The final note of this appealing and lively play for children is that Earth belongs to everyone and should be respected.
"Pure fun for the whole family. A remarkable theatrical feat!"- Northampton Chronicle
Babe, the Sheep Pig
"A first class show. If I were a child I'd scream for a ticket." - Birmingham Post
10 adults (with doubling), 10 or more children, optional extras. Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis 2010-2011 Season
Save the Human
The tale of high adventure in the farmyard that became the hit movie Babe is a captivating play for children young and old. A leading writer of children's plays brings the heartwarming story of the piglet who rises to fame at the Grand Challenge Sheep Dog Trials to the stage in a dramatization that allows for flexible casting.
The Giver- Drama by Eric Coble from the book by Lois Lowry. The Giver is the only person who holds the memories of real
pain and real joy. Now Jonas will learn the truth about life— and the hypocrisy of his utopian world. He will learn to be the next Giver. Through this astonishing and moving adaptation, discover what it means to grow up, to grow wise, and to take control of your own destiny.
Play with Music / Large Flexible cast; minimum of 8 m/f Long, long ago humans ruled the world, but they made a terrible mess of it. Wars and pollution nearly destroyed all of them. Now the animals are in charge and they have started a worldwide campaign to save humans from extinction.
Other David Wood titles available from Samuel French include: The BFG • Danny the Champion of the World • Babes in the Magic Wood • Fantastic Mr. Fox • Flibberty and the Penguin • George’s Marvellous Medicine • The Gingerbread Man • Hijack Over Hygenia • The Ideal Gnome Expedition • Jack the Lad • Meg and Mog Show • Mother Goose's Golden Christmas • Nutcracker Sweet • Old Father Time • Old Mother Hubbard • The Owl and the Pussycat Went to See... • The Papertown Paperchase • The Pied Piper • The Plotters of Cabbage Patch Corner • Robin Hood • The See-Saw Tree • The Selfish Shellfish • Spot's Birthday Party • There Was an Old Woman... • The Witches
To order your copy of these wonderful plays, and apply for performance rights, visit SamuelFrench.com
Jesse and Grace: A Best Friends Story- Comedy by Sandra Fenichel Asher. Developed from the poetry of Sandy Asher and David L. Harrison. Jesse and Grace have been best friends since birth. It never mattered that Jesse is a boy and Grace is a girl. But now they’re in 4th grade, and when Grace gives a birthday poem to Jesse at school, their classmates begin a routine of nonstop teasing: “Jesse’s got a girlfriend! Gracie’s got a boyfriend!” Denial only makes things worse. Then everyone is invited to a party in celebration of Grace’s birthday. Unable to avoid each other, or the teasing, and secretly longing to forgive and forget, Jesse and Grace finally discover that “A best friend is the best kind of friend of all.”
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me.”... NOT!
The Bully Plays
24 10-minute plays by: Sandra Fenichel Asher, Cherie Bennett, Max Bush, José Casas, Gloria Bond Clunie, Eric Coble, Doug Cooney, Linda Daugherty, Lisa Dillman, Richard Dresser, José Cruz González, Stephen Gregg, D.W. Gregory, Brian Guehring, Dwayne Hartford, Barry Kornhauser, Trish Lindberg, Brett Neveu, Ernie Nolan, R.N. Sandberg, Geraldine Ann Snyder, Werner Trieschmann, Elizabeth Wong, Y York “If there’s one goal of this conference it’s to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up. It’s not.”—Barack Obama
Great Arts for Young Audiences International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY)
International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) is the leading service organization in North America dedicated to professional performing arts for young audiences. IPAY has more than 250 members—producing companies, artist managers, performing arts presenters, individual artists, and students—from thirty-five states and eight countries. IPAY’s annual Showcase provides an opportunity for artists to perform their work in front of an audience of presenters who book shows specifically for young people and families.
2012 IPAY Showcase Austin, TX Jan 18-21, 2012 Register online: www.ipayweb.org
Commissioned in response to the growing international epidemic.
www.DramaticPublishing.com 311 Washington St., Woodstock, IL 60098 ~ 815-338-7170
empowering theatre for young audiences email@example.com
ASSITEJ has found a way to be more inclusive
Day three of the ASSITEJ General Assembly. Concert Hall of the Odd Fellow Palace in Copenhagen. Photo by Niclas Malmcrona.
Notes from the playing fielD —
on walls, pattern recognition, and re-imagining By Kim Peter Kovac
than it has ever been – by allowing non-voting members, and by encouraging international networks organized by discipline to form.
t’s pretty amazing that in 1965, at the height of the Cold War, an international organization dedicated to theatre for young audiences came to exist at all, has survived, and is thriving. Even more terrific, exciting, and a bit revolutionary is that at the 2011 ASSITEJ Congress in Copenhagen/Malmoe, sweeping changes were made to the organization, changes that, all at once, moved the organization out of its Cold War roots and into the 21st century. The real story here is not just what happened to language in a document voted in a Scandinavian meeting hall, but that a 46-year- old wall (metaphorical, but real) was peacefully but emphatically torn down. For those not versed in the inner workings of ASSITEJ – with a complex and sort of baroque history and an equally complex and arcane mode of operation – it might be useful to think of this as a tale of two cities. Or a tale of the one city, twice. Or a tale of walls and light. Pre-Congress, I was in Berlin at the Augenblick Mal festival, mingling with charming and committed practitioners from a couple dozen countries, in an organized, yet
friendly and open city. Command central was the Theater an der Parkaue, a classic old-style (non purpose-built) European theatre carved out of a 100-year old former school, lots of classrooms, studios, a café, different routes to various theatres, serendipitous logic. Getting lost trying to find one of the performance spaces brought on some off-center déjà vu, which made no sense, because I’d never been to this theatre.
ing arts center, they kept trotting me out for interviews, trying to bait me into saying something anti-American.
To be sure, I’d been to the city in 1986, when it was called East Berlin, but at the Theater der Freundschaft (“Theater of Friendship” – a prototypical communist name). Of course, everything was way different then – crossing the Berlin Wall at the storied Checkpoint Charlie (immortalized in LeCarre and all the spy books), the not-terribly bright border guard convinced that the handful of Kermit the Frog buttongifties were going to be sold on the black market, humorless soldiers with rifles on every corner, a city where everything was grey, including the veil over many conversations. If my cardigan-clad personal translator (provided by the hosts) was not a spy outright, she certainly reported to the secret police, but that’s a story for another time. Being from the US national perform-
The point of this story is that the stark difference in the ambiance of a flagship German theatre between 1986 (grey and guarded) and 2011 (sunny and vibrant and warm) is very much like the change that just happened to ASSITEJ.
Cut back to the present – toward the end of Augenblick Mal, commenting on the déjà vu to a German colleague, who said, “Well of course it feels familiar, it’s the same theatre.” Pause. Since renamed, remodeled, and repainted. Pause. Wow, I got lost there as well.
The backstory of why the changes were needed is in part an origins story. Cut to 1965 when probably a majority of the practitioners doing professional theatre for children and young people were behind the Iron Curtain. Following a UN model, the new association was organized by countries and, let’s be frank, sometimes used as a small weapon in Cold War politics. Thus power and control resting in the national centers became part of the DNA of ASSITEJ.
empowering theatre for young audiences
Theater der Freundschaft (later renamed Theater an der Parkaue). Berlin, Germany. Photo courtesy of Theater an der Parkaue.
What this all meant was that the only ‘members’ of the association were the national centers, and any individual or theatre could only participate through its national center. Whatever the ultimate logic of the original structure, the end result was that if you were from a country without a national center, you were out of luck. If your center restricted membership and you were not part of the in-crowd, also out of luck. If you were part of a ‘ghost center’ (non-functioning, a national center in name only), also, tough noogies. To those of us used to a national center that’s open to all individuals and organizations, and that doesn’t stand much on ceremony (anyone can attend TYA/USA conferences at a non-member registration rate), the seriousness of the situation in some countries may not be apparent. But
it’s a very real problem and has been for years. Some national centers built very real walls around their practitioners and closely controlled the flow of information and access. Along with this being antithetical to ASSITEJ’s overall mission, in the current global society with easy access to instant communication (via email, Facebook, Twitter) and self-determination (you can produce a CD in your tiny home studio), it made no sense as well. ASSITEJ’s Executive Committee (or EC), the governing board, struggled with this challenge for years, wrestling with various ways of opening things up without totally throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The only real defense the EC had against a non-functioning center was expulsion. For instance, at the EC meeting in Mexico City in February 2011, two centers were ex-
Theater an der Parkaue (previously named Theater Der Freundschaft). Berlin, Germany. Photo by Christian Brachwitz.
pelled: Belgium, because the leadership of the Center said only French-speaking Belgians were welcome, and France, because the French practioners complained for years that it was a non-functionning center and not open to all. After much discussion and wrangling over language, some radical changes to the constitution were proposed and circulated to the membership, in preparation for discussion and vote at the Congress in Copenhagen/Malmoe. In contrast with TYA/USA, which has a general membership meeting once a year, lasting about an hour, the ‘general assembly’ of ASSITEJ is the triennial business meeting, and lasts three full days. Official delegates, three from each national center, sit at tables, alphabetically by country.
Imagine the United Nations of TYA. It’s the important business of the association, to be sure; however, unless you’re a policy-wonk, in the middle of an exciting international festival, it can feel like watching paint dry. The 2011 General Assembly, though, promised much fun. Some changes in voting procedures (for President, Secretary-General and the Executive Committee) to make them more logical were quickly adopted. The fireworks started, though, with the first and possibly most radical proposal. Though it’s not defined in the constitution and is only the past practice, eligibility to be an ASSITEJ national center has always been defined by membership in the United Nations. This meant that the many committed and vibrant practitioners in what the EC called ‘constitutionally independent entities
Walls may go up, but sledgehammers, politics, and grace tear them down.
empowering theatre for young audiences
Day one of the ASSITEJ General Assembly. St. Gertrud Conference Center in Malmoe, Sweden. Photo by Niclas Malmcrona.
claiming independence’, say, Taiwan or Kosovo, could not participate in ASSITEJ. The proposal was that these entities could, if other eligibility requirements were met, be granted the same status as national centers.
“There you have it, the best kind of reinvention for an organization necessary ... while honoring the past ... and recognizing the present.”
This was probably a bridge too far on the part of the EC. Legitimate concerns were brought up by delegations from various parts of the world. They pointed out that cooperative artistic ventures with practitioners from these and other entities actually happen a lot, but some governments or arts councils who fund ASSITEJ Centers would not look kindly on the new proposed status. Other national delegations expressed concerns about regions in their counties that might be encouraged to spin off. End result: one proposal soundly voted down, not even close. Time to move on to the next two proposals – the most critical ones. The first of these out of the gate involved networks: any international network with members in at least seven countries (as the two currently on ASSITEJ’s radar of ITYARN, the international theatre for young audiences research network, and write local play global, the playwrights network) can apply to be a full voting member of ASSITEJ. If the application met the criteria
and was approved by the EC, the network would have the same status as, say, Mexico or Denmark, or any other country. The next proposal: any individual or theatre or school can apply to be a non-voting member, so that they can participate whether or not they have a functional national center. This opens things up hugely, as undoubtedly the majority of practitioners don’t really care about the politics or who’s on the EC, they only want information and the opportunity to participate. After some lively and largely positive discussion from the floor, these latter two proposals were overwhelmingly approved by the membership present at the General Assembly, with the caveat that some of the language be tweaked and with the understanding that the EC would work out procedures and processes. There you have it, the best kind of reinvention for an organization – necessary (with the EC listening to practitioners) while honoring the past (keeping the same essential structure of power resting in the national centers, important for those who care) and recognizing the present (a global society that communicates and collaborates without batting an eye). Simple and elegant,
Delegates from national centers voting on the constitutional changes on day two of the ASSITEJ General Assembly. St. Gertrude Conference Center in Malmoe, Sweden. Photo by Niclas Malmcrona.
democratically voted to boot, without too many delegates’ hair catching on fire. The old ASSITEJ with many strong national centers at the core still exists, but the walls built around practitioners in some places have been pulled down. ASSITEJ has found a way to be more inclusive than it has ever been – by allowing non-voting members and by encouraging international networks organized by discipline to form. As this article is being written, a steering committee is meeting to form a rebooted, open, and inclusive ASSITEJ chapter in France. Of course, there will still be politics and issues of power and control, something that is true of any organization, much less a largely volunteer service organization with branches in 80+ countries like ASSITEJ. But the recent changes are shining the light where it belongs, on the playwrights, directors, actors, choreographers, educators, scholars, students – those who create the performances that change the lives of children and young people all over the world.
stitutional changes were passed, I saw a vibrant and exciting joint production from Junges Ensemble Stuttgart (Germany) and New International Encounter (Norway and England), the ticket having been arranged weeks previously. It was performed by an international cast, a highly theatrical play whose starting point is the day the East German leadership shut down the border, a play called, appropriately, Berlin, 1961. Walls may go up, but sledgehammers, politics, and grace tear them down. How terrific to be on the other side.
Kim Peter Kovac is Producing Director of Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences, Vice-President of ASSITEJ International, and on the boards of Theatre for Young Audiences/USA and IPAY, International Performing Arts for Youth.
Sometimes the coincidences of life can be very elegant, and all sorts of disparate pieces come together in unexpected ways. The evening of the very day these conempowering theatre for young audiences
photo: Chianan yen
AMERICAN ALLIANCE FOR
Theatre for Young Audiences Educational Theatre in Colleges and Communities M.A., Ph.D., Ed.D.
Educational Theatre, All Grades | B.S., M.A. Educational Theatre with English or Social Studies
• Develop your TYA skills as an artist and educator under the guidance of our renowned faculty • Take part in mainstage productions, play development, storytelling for family audiences, youth theatre projects, and our New Plays for Young Audiences series
• Connect to New York City’s professional theatres, artistic residency programs, and exciting internships
Visit www.steinhardt.nyu.edu/tya-2012 or call 212 998 5868.
• Take courses in Dublin, London, and San Juan, all dedicated to preparing the next generation of TYA leaders
NEw York UNiVErSiTY iS AN AffirMATiVE ACTioN/EqUAL oPPorTUNiTY iNSTiTUTioN.
Job: A1109_19_TYAToday ON TOUR Publication: TYA Today Size: 7.75 X 5 Performing Arts Institute At RuthColor(s): Eckerd Hall b/w Material Type: PDF Line Screen: Delivery: email Issue Date: 10.15.11 Closing Date: 09.09.11 For booking information, Proof: F A Thousand Cranes call 1(800)476-6240 Date: 09.08.11 or visit www.loydartists.com Aesop’s Fables www.eckerdtheatercompany.com The Hundred Dresses The
2 0 1 1
2 0 1 2
empowering theatre for young audiences
Nancy (1931 - 2011) Swortzell
Lowell and Nancy Swortzell outside the Provincetown Playhouse. New York, NY. Photo: Lowell and Nancy Swortzell Papers, Child Drama Collection, Arizona State University Libraries.
“We will miss the catchphrases Nancy used, … like: ‘Bless your heart’; ‘Thanks, no thanks’; and a personal favorite … ‘I seem to have interrupted myself again!’ … We will miss her laughter and charm, her wit and energy, her perseverance. Her example of a life well lived …. Her humanity and wisdom. Her unwillingness to be defeated, even by cancer. Her remarkable good cheer. Her guts, her risk-taking and outspokenness. Her devotion to young people – through theatre and in her personal life. Her deep, deep belief in the importance of education and of second chances. We will miss gathering around her table and making her the center of attention. We will miss her cooking.” ~ Lindsay Wright
“She sat at the back of the Provincetown Playhouse, watching, and not liking what she saw unfolding on stage. She waited, and watched, and waited some more until she just couldn’t take it anymore. ‘What are you doing?’ she shouted out. Silence. Everyone looked toward the back of the theatre. Nancy began calling out a host of questions for everyone to consider. She wanted people to stop and critically think about what they were doing. She wanted the actors, who were playing animals, to act more like real animals. ‘How does a wolf enter?’ ‘How does a wolf eat?’ ‘How does a wolf growl?’ Nancy began to growl. She was quite good at it. ‘This is not Disney!’ she reminded everyone, ‘This is theatre!.’ I thought she was going to jump out of her wheelchair. I heard Cecily excitedly whisper into Nancy’s ear, “You go, girl!’ No one there that evening will forget the urgency in her questions, or the passion with which she expressed her ideas. It was electric.” ~ David Montgomery
“She was one of those rare theatre people who looked deeply into the heart of the art. Erudite, wickedly observant (with a string of stories as long as your arm, and longer) and deeply generous, for Nancy, process and performance were inseparable.” ~ Tony Graham
Gammer Gurton’s Needle produced by Nancy Swortzell for the NYU Educational Theatre Program. New York, NY. Photo: Lowell and Nancy Swortzell Papers, Child Drama Collection, Arizona State University Libraries.
YA/Today acknowledges the sad passing of Nancy Swortzell, a leading American figure in theatre for young audiences and educational theatre, on July 30, 2011. She led a rich and full life, including co-founding the graduate program in Educational Theatre at New York University in 1966 and establishing the NYU Study Abroad Program, conducting courses in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and co-founding the New Plays for Young Audiences program at the Provinceton Playhouse, which helped develop over 40 new plays for children and young people with playwrights from the USA, Ireland, the UK, and Australia. Perhaps the greatest testament to Nancy’s legacy, however, might be expressed in the words of just a few of the many artists, educators, administrators, and students whom she taught, encouraged, inspired, and welcomed to her table.
“Nancy and her husband Lowell established the NYU Program in Educational Theatre in 1966, and thousands of students have been the beneficiary of a comprehensive program which privileges art as well as education. Their extraordinary partnership led to a dynamic and innovative curriculum, the first educational theatre program of its kind in the world. Nancy was a gifted director: she was the first woman to be granted a DFA in directing from Yale and introduced numerous studies in acting styles and play production. But for many she will be remembered as being instrumental in importing groundbreaking ideas in drama pedagogy and theatre in education to American audiences.” ~ Philip Taylor
“She was an amazing woman with sharp edges and a BIG heart that helped advance theatre education. She made me, and all around her, want to be better artists and facilitators. Thank you Nancy! You will be missed, but I will not forget to push, challenge, question, wonder, and believe in the power of theatre and education for all. I will continually ask, ‘Where is the drama?’” ~ Courtney Boddie
Nancy with her dog Spider. New York, NY. Photo provided by Krista Fogle.
“[B]y far her greatest gift to me has been people. Nancy gathered a truly international circle of friends and colleagues who, springing from her, continue to grow the circle and the work. It is a dynamic family tree that stands as testimony to a life that celebrated our humanity through many rituals, taking place all over the world in theatres, classrooms, and around kitchen tables. As keepers of this tapestry, we must not simply admire it; Nancy would hate that kind of reverence, but rather, continue to nurture it through our work and new collaborations. Most importantly, we must celebrate her well-lived life through the sharing of our ideas, our stories, and our suppers. Let’s all set extra places in her honor and see what spells we can weave.” ~ Edie Demas
“To someone used to the delicate understatements of British dramaturgy, Nancy gave her notes with eye-watering directness: ‘I didn’t see what was going on in that scene at all.’ Her forensic attention to detail and ferocious opposition to the bland and the fake were not for the faint-hearted. But that honesty was part of her remarkable generosity. She gave me (and countless others) the respect that comes with taking responsibility for your art, wherever it takes place.” ~ Carl Miller
“And if you listen very closely, with finely-tuned ears, in theatres, university classrooms, and schoolrooms all across our field, in the US, England, and Ireland, chances are good that you’ll be able to hear the echoes of one of Nancy’s signature phrases: ‘Where is the drama, dear heart?’” ~ Deirdre Kelly Lavrakas
“… I learned that you could judge the effectiveness of a piece by the number of mints Nance took to get through it - one mint it was brilliant, but five...! There would be a scathing entry in the notebook. Then we would spend a long time analyzing what we saw, comment on the audience response, compare the piece with other productions, styles, techniques … and then have a coffee, a gossip, and a laugh. … Nance would always find - or find the lack of - the drama in lessons, in play-development and production, in academia, and in life. And, in a sense we all benefitted from that drama of her own life, because it was definitely there: drama in the central protagonists, Nancy and Lowell…” ~ Emelie Fitzgibbon
“The generations of students that she taught also experienced that quality of care. Her instruction was filled with a humanity that transcended the usual bounds of teacher-student relationships because she saw the whole person and always looked for the strengths before addressing the weaknesses. Teaching and the theatre were always, concretely, about people before ideas. For anyone who was receptive, she was unstinting in her wisdom and support. Nancy also had an extraordinary talent for bringing people together. She was a catalyst for collaborations, a born groundbreaker, and a ‘sower of seeds’. She combined the qualities of both the dreamer and the pragmatist, and was never happier than when she could husband new creative partnerships until they bore fruit.” ~ Chris Vine and Helen White
In August 1993, Nancy and Lowell led educational theatre workshops in Korea that were hosted by ASSITEJ Korea. Photo: Lowell and Nancy Swortzell Papers, Child Drama Collection, Arizona State University Libraries.
[Special thanks to Katherine Krzys, curator of the Child Drama Collection at Arizona State University for her assistance in this tribute to Nancy Swortzell.]
empowering theatre for young audiences
Master of Fine Arts in Writing
FEBRUARY 201 1 THEATRE COMMUNICATIONS GROUP
The Complete Text: Lisa D’Amour’s DETROIT The Many Facets of LAURA EASON 50 WAYS TO LEAVE Your Torvald PLUS: McCarthyism Revisited, Horton Foote’s Texas
Become an INDIVIDUAL MEMBER of Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the American theatre, and receive a FREE subscription to AMERICAN THEATRE magazine. Receive 10 issues a year—including 5 complete new playscripts— with an emphasis on presenting artists’ voices,
Where Every Individual Talent Is Nurtured Ideally suited to the wriƟng life • study with a great community of writers • write in your own home Meet Our Community facebook.com/SpaldingMFA blog.spalding.edu/mfainwriƟng Sena Jeter Naslund, Program Director author of Ahab’s Wife, Four Spirits (novel & play), Abundance: A Novel of Marie AntoineƩe, and Adam & Eve
covering the diversity of the theatrical landscape, and meeting the changing needs of a larger and more varied readership of our fast-evolving national and world theatre scene.
YOUR MEMBERSHIP PACKAGE ALSO INCLUDES: 20% DISCOUNT on resource materials, including ARTSEARCH® and Dramatists Sourcebook. 15% DISCOUNT on all books from TCG and other select theatre publishers including works by Eric Bogosian, Caryl Churchill, Tony Kushner, Suzan-Lori Parks, John Patrick Shanley, Paula Vogel and August Wilson. Access xchange, theatre’s one stop shop and swap— TCG’s centralized, theatre-speciﬁc listings community designed to allow you to buy, sell, trade and borrow
We invite you to join us today and receive all of
TCG’s MEMBER BENEFITS!
goods, space andopportunities within the national theatre community. DISCOUNTS on tickets at theatres across the country. Receive the INDIVIDUAL MEMBER WIRE, TCG’s bimonthly e-mail newsletter. FREE Associate Membership with Fractured Atlas FREE membership with the Performing Arts Alliance.
Call TCG Customer Service at (212) 609-5900 or join online at www.tcg.org
PlaywriƟng Faculty • Sheila Callaghan • Helena Kriel • Kira Obolensky • Eric Schmiedl • Charlie Schulman
WriƟng for Children & Young Adults in PlaywriƟng Spalding’s program does not segregate children’s writers but encourages them to study alongside writers in cƟon, poetry, creaƟve noncƟon, playwriƟng and screenwriting. Study with our award-winning faculty for one or two semesters of playwriƟng or another focal area. Students may enter the program in any of our three semesters: fall, spring, or summer. The fall or spring semester begins with a residency in Louisville; the summer semester begins in a variety of locaƟons abroad. Students may choose from any of the semesters for a total of four semesters, plus a Ōh residency for graduaƟon, to complete the MFA degree. For a complete list of faculty, residency dates, internaƟonal study locaƟons, and enrollment informaƟon, see spalding.edu/mfa firstname.lastname@example.org A Top-10 low-residency MFA Program –Poets & Writers
empowering theatre for young audiences
technology and the
theatre teaching artist By Matt Omasta
(l-r) Christopher Kircher, Sam Planck, Amanda Reischlein working on their original movie Michael Bay Makes a Stage Play. Omaha Theater Company at The Rose, Omaha, NE. Photo by Michael Harrelson.
...it’s been fascinating to engage in theatre work with students who have grown up surrounded by technology because it forces everyone to look each other in the eye and lower their defenses...
ince the introduction of the deus ex machina in Ancient Greece, theatre artists have used technology in their work. However, it is unlikely that the Greeks could have imagined the depth to which technology currently permeates all aspects of performance. From the flat screen TVs of Avenue Q to the aerial hijinks of Mary Poppins, it is hard to escape technology’s presence in professional theatre. Of course, high-tech gadgets are not limited to the stage; they inundate almost every aspect of our lives as we work on laptops, listen to music on portable MP3 players, or play virtual sports on a variety of devices that can be installed in our homes. They also influence the way young people experience the world and thus the way we teach them. Teaching artists have noticed numerous ways in which the explosion of technological devices used by children and adolescents affect students and teaching. “It seems that we now have the youngest of children carrying cell phones and other portable devices at all times,” says Education Director Gary Cadwallader of Orlando Repertory Theatre (The REP). “Also, it seems that our students now hear and think differently with the proliferation of technology. Everything is now instant, and this has an impact on attention span.”
– Blake Wilson
Similarly, Metro Theater Company Education Director Karen Weberman says: “Young people process information today in a way that sometimes makes me feel dizzy. I remain excited and at times daunted by how present technology is in the lives of my students.” Not only has technology shaped the way young people process information, it impacts how they interact with each other. “I’ve found that communicating via electronic means can sometimes lend itself to a false sense of bravado or directness in how we communicate with others,” Director of the Louisiana State University Performing Arts Academy Blake Wilson explains. “So given this reality, it’s been fascinating to engage in theatre work with students who have grown up surrounded by technology, because it forces everyone to look each other in the eye and lower their defenses, something that has become surprisingly foreign/difficult for some students.” At the same time, Wilson notes that technology may help today’s students share more about themselves than their predecessors. “Paradoxically, I think that social media has, in some ways, reduced our inhibitions about sharing details of our daily lives. So, in some respects, students often surprise me with how much they’re willing to share about themselves (compared to older generations),” he says.
empowering theatre for young audiences
(clockwise from top) Roxane McWilliams, Karen Weberman, Ariana Moses, and Meredyth Pederson viewing a digital project by a teaching artist. Metro Theater Company, Saint Louis, MO. Photo by Alan David.
“The decrease in use of email and increase in the use of text messaging and Facebook requires us to reexamine our use of these tools when connecting with teens.” – Amanda Kibler
Technology In The Theatre Studio
Just as young people are exploring an array of technological devices, teaching artists are using these tools in creative ways in their theatre classrooms. Some report enhancing traditional theatre projects by using newly available tools, including digital audio mixers and projectors. Others are teaching entirely new courses based principally around technology, especially the use of video. And many use technology to gather data, document their work, assist with assessment, and communicate with students outside the classroom. Teaching artists commonly employ technology to reinforce their existing, traditional theatre courses. For example, both Chiara Lovio, drama teacher at the Sonoran Science Academy and Associate Education Director Amanda Kibler at The Rose Theater ask their students to use projectors to display images on stage to serve as theatrical settings, or to play videos that accentuate the live stage action. At Dallas Children’s Theater (DCT), technology allows for easier integration of music into the production of new musicals. “The scripts I write for classes use Broadway shows as models for the play we will act out,” explains Artist-in-Residence Karl Schaeffer. “I’ve used South Pacific, The Pajama Game, Jail House Rock, and Mama Mia as models for shows. Technology makes it easy for me to download midi files from the shows and then create karaoke versions of the songs with new lyrics. I also use computers to play
sound effects and musical numbers [in the final performance.]” Technology also assists arts educators as they gather research for projects and teach material to students. When devising original theatre pieces with communities, Wilson has used technology to gather and record material, including local histories or anecdotes. For example, he uses blogs to create forums where community members share their experiences. The Internet also serves as “a resource for visual and narrative research,” says Dr. Megan Alrutz of the University of Texas at Austin. Additionally, teaching artists can use online resources to search for images and stories to integrate into their work and even find complete lesson plan ideas. Devices such as the iPad can help arts educators plan and execute their courses. “Mostly [technology] has affected my prep time, and my ability to prep on the go,” says Talleri McRae, education associate at Stage One Family Theatre. ““In a pinch, I can read my plans off of my mobile device.” Reduced prep time can allow teaching artists to spend more time in the classroom or communicating with students. Electronic databases, easily created in programs such as Excel, also help teaching artists stay organized. At DCT, Schaeffer teaches several classes in the same grade level and uses databases to cast the plays. “When I work with seven fourthgrade classes I wind up with one kid from each class being a narrator,” he explains. “The database enables me to keep track of which student plays which role in each class.” When young people are involved in the rehearsal process, digital cameras and video help document students’ efforts and allow them to reflect on their works-in-progress. Weberman often records her students’ work and shares it with them afterward. “The footage provides students with an immediate method of self-assessment, as students verbally discuss what they notice and how they feel watching themselves carry out a particular exercise,” she explains. Not only can work be shared with the students themselves, recordings can serve as records of student achievement. For example, Lovio documents her students’ work to share with administrators interested in students’ progress. In addition to using technology to support traditional theatre courses, theatres now offer techno-centric courses in filmmaking and digital storytelling. Courses in digital photography, digital video, and digital music production help create “a space for youth to see themselves, to represent themselves, to revise narratives about themselves and young people in general,” says Alrutz. At The REP, “we are instituting a program this summer
with the Coalition for the Homeless where we gather stories from and with homeless teens via digital video and photography and will compose a ‘shareformance’ at the end of the eight-week project,” explains Cadwallader. “Our plans include videotaping stories and photographing one another, objects, and scenes.” The REP also offers summer camp courses with integrated performance/video instruction where students write and film short scenes for film or television. Similarly, the Rose offers “Young Filmmakers” classes for middle and high school students, along with “Create Your Own Video” classes for upper elementary students.
Technology Outside The Classroom
Not only do teaching artists use technology in their classrooms, they also turn to social media and the Internet to share their work and inform the public about projects. “I have increasingly used technology and social media to promote projects that my students have worked on or to promote organizations/ events that I’m associated with,” says Wilson. Alrutz notes that the Internet creates a public performance space; with the expansion of sites like YouTube, young people are able to share their work with broad audiences without ever leaving their hometown. Even sharing simple reminders and announcements with students can now be done electronically, and students increasingly expect to hear from their instructors through social media. At the Rose, “we have had to revamp how we communicate audition dates and rehearsal schedules to our teens, as well as share the work we have accomplished throughout the rehearsal process,” says Kibler. “The decrease in use of email and increase in the use of text messaging and Facebook requires us to reexamine our use of these tools when connecting with teens.” Given the prevalence of e-communication among young people, teaching artists may find it necessary to maintain an online presence and be available to their students in ways previous generations of teachers did not. Of course, social networking also provides new opportunities to connect students. For example, Alrutz uses Facebook to “develop and support a learning community beyond our classroom/community site.” Online communities like Facebook offer a number of tools teaching artists can employ to develop community, including event pages, organization pages where discussion topics can be posted, and groups where students can connect easily with each other.
Problems & Solutions
While technology can greatly enhance a teaching artist’s work, almost anyone who has used a new device knows innovation is not exempt from Murphy’s Law: what can go wrong often will. Many artists relate to Internet connectivity issues, slow downloads, dead batteries, full SIM cards, and the frustration of dealing with incorrect adaptors. How do teaching artists deal with such setbacks? The most sound advice: “have a Plan B.” It may be wise to plan options for a project that do not involve technology. When an entire class revolves around using a certain piece of equipment, it becomes important to have a completely different lesson on standby in case the problem just cannot be resolved right away. The simple discipline of exhibiting patience, teaming up with other educators more experienced with technology, and always testing equipment in advance are also proven strategies. Yet even before glitches arise, a teaching artist needs to acquire the right technology in the first place. “One of the tough things is having the latest technology,” notes Schaeffer. “The biggest problem is that technology is moving so fast that some hardware and software is obsolete in a matter of years rather than decades. Consider the life span of the following recording formats: 78 rpm records, 33 rpm records, 45 rpm records, cassette tapes, 8 track tapes, CDs, VHS tapes,
Youth experiment with performance and digital media in a community-based digital storytelling program called Digital U. Orlando, FL. Photo provided by Megan Alrutz.
empowering theatre for young audiences
“Don’t be scared. Partner with a teaching artist that has done it to build your confidence, then TRY IT. And forgive yourself if it doesn’t go smoothly the first time. TRY AGAIN.” – Talleri McRae
Young woman takes a self-portrait with her cell phone for a digital storytelling project. Austin, TX. Photo provided by Megan Alrutz.
and DVDs. Each of them has had a shorter life span than its predecessor.” Since many arts organizations are still recovering from the economic turndown, resources to buy expensive equipment can be scarce. A less obvious cost of technology is time: while arts educators work to digitally document their efforts, the process often takes much longer than they anticipate. At the Rose, “the teaching artist who coordinates and oversees most of our video work spends about one hour of editing for each minute of footage,” says Kibler. The many hours spent editing either cost the organization that pays someone to complete the work, or the teaching artist, who “donates” countless hours of prep time to the cause. While it might seem easy to resolve this time management issue by assigning students to take on these intensive tasks, the work often falls to teaching artists. “Managing assets in technology (such as digital files) can be time consuming and expensive, as well as not very interesting to young people,” notes Alrutz. “It is like cleaning your room.” Not only do teaching artists spend time digitizing, editing, and archiving their work, they often must allocate hours to managing their organizations’ online presences. “Because technology is a very interactive medium, you must have a plan for maintaining it and for keeping interest alive,” notes Wilson. “It’s not passive; you can’t just expect that people will come to your Facebook page or your blog. You have to be very deliberate about doing things to spark interest and giving people a reason to interact with your site. People expect it to be a conversation, a two-way street, not a passive activity. That requires time and personnel.” Many teaching artists note that the key to resolving time-related issues is being aware that they exist in the first place and proactively addressing that reality. “I’ve found that the best way to address [time issues] is to have a plan upfront how you will use social media, and then designate somebody to be in charge of maintaining it (preferably someone who really enjoys doing it and will commit to staying on top of it),” says Wilson. Similarly, Kibler admits, “We have had to increase our administrative time outside of the classroom or rehearsal hall to be able to update the Facebook page or edit videos or create innovative projections to be used in a show.” By dedicating specific staff members to specific tasks and ensuring they have the time they need to see them through to completion, theatre companies can help ensure a smoother integration of technology into their teaching efforts.
Given the costs of time and money, is it worthwhile to invest in technology for teaching theatre? “Don’t be scared,” says McRae. “Partner with a teaching artist that has done it to build your confidence, then TRY IT. And forgive yourself if it doesn’t go smoothly the first time. TRY AGAIN.”
Technology In Your Classroom
Recommendations from Tech-Savvy Teaching Artists: n Don’t underestimate the time commitment. n Include the technology in your planning from the very beginning. n Get training whenever you can. n Be prepared. Bring extra batteries, DVDs, and even backup lesson plans. n Look for ways to collaborate with others who have already used technology in their classes. If you have ideas for how your organization could benefit from integrating technology into its courses, don’t be shy about suggesting them. “If you have an idea that uses technology, bring it to the attention of Education Directors/Artistic Directors on how you might bring an effective program to light,” says Cadwallader. “Our new program with the Coalition for the Homeless started with the suggestion of a trusted teaching artist, and we resonated with it immediately.” Perhaps the most important thing to consider when integrating technology into your classroom is that while it can enhance your existing strengths, it can never replace strong pedagogical skills. Consider this helpful insight: “technology is no substitute for great teaching.” Wilson, who offered this wisdom, explains with an analogy: “technology is to a teacher what a microphone is to a singer. A microphone can make your voice louder and heard by more people, but it can’t make you a better singer. In the same way, technology can make a teaching artist’s work more accessible and engaging, but it can’t make up for poor teaching and poor planning. Make sure you have the fundamentals in place first. The better you understand your art form (and how you want to teach it), the better you will be able to discover ways to utilize it.” Matt Omasta leads the Theatre Education program at Utah State University. His research on theatre education and theatre for young audiences has appeared in publications including Theatre Journal, Youth Theatre Journal, and the International Journal of Education & the Arts.
"Washington" at Kennedy Center (DC), Felicia Curry, Jenna Sokolowski, Billy Bustamante. Photo: Carol Pratt.
Engaging, Engaging, Innovative Innovative Musicals Musicals and and Plays Plays Now Now Available Available for for Licensing! Licensing!
"Clemente" at Imagination Stage (MD),Derek Manson, Don Kenneth Mason, Photo: Scott Suchman.
"Einstein" at Norris Center (CA), Luke Hardy, Maxwell Havas, Photo: Katrin Cooper.
An An inventive inventive steampunk steampunk musical makes musical makes a a metal metal toy toy into a real boy! into a real boy!
Rapunzel —Uncut! Rapunzel —Uncut! An An indie indie rock rock take take on on the the traditional tangled tale! traditional tangled tale!
Alice in Wonderland
"Frida" at La Jolla Playhouse (CA), Camden Gonzalez , Steve Limones, Photo: J.T. Macmillan
EINSTEIN is a dummy
contact: the graham agency 212.489.7730 www.crunchynotes.com
Tumble down the rabbit hole into a musical jazz odyssey!
PRESENTATIONS AT THE KENNEDY CENTER INCLUDE
SHADOW THEATRE TSUNOBUE TOKYO, JAPAN
DAVID GONZALEZ NEW YORK
VSA Playwright Discovery Award Production: Handspeak Princess of Kaguya
Get ready for justice Sherwood Forest style with everyone’s favorite “usual suspects”!
2011–2012 SEASON Featuring two new world premiere Kennedy Center commissions and the triumphant return of an instant classic!
FOR INQUIRIES ★ EMAIL ★
email@example.com ★ BY PHONE ★
503-222-4480 OUR MISSION — TO EDUCATE, ENTERTAIN AND ENRICH THE LIVES OF YOUNG AUDIENCES
illustrations© ©Lee Lee Moyer. Moyer. Facebook Facebook is is a registered trademark of Facebook, Inc. illustrations
An anime-inspired adaptation of evil plots, potions and a poison apple!
The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful and Her Dog!
A World Premiere Kennedy Center Commission Book and lyrics by Lauren Gunderson Music by Brian Lowdermilk Directed by Sean Daniels DECEMBER 2011–JANUARY 2012
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical Adapted by Mo Willems from his Caldecott Honor–winning children’s book Music by Michael Silversher Directed by Rosemary Newcott FEBRUARY 2012
The Wings of Ikarus Jackson
The Wings of Ikarus Jackson. Illustrated by Christopher Myers
A World Premiere Kennedy Center Commission Adapted by Jerome Hairston from the book Wings by Christopher Myers Directed and Choreographed by Devanand Janki
Emily Loves to Bounce
KEV MARCUS AND WIL-B FLORIDA
PATCH THEATRE COMPANY ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA
Illustration © 2004 Mo Willems
Award-Winning Shows Now Available!
Award winning TYA musicals from Karen Zacarías and Deborah Wicks La Puma!
SAVE THE DATE! May 18–20, 2012
A showcase of works in progress for young and family audiences.
For more information on Kennedy Center Education Department programs, visit kennedy-center.org. Become a fan of Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences on Facebook. Performances for Young Audiences is made possible by
Additional support for Performances for Young Audiences is provided by the U.S. Department of Education, President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts, The Clark Charitable Foundation, and the Verizon Foundation. Major support for the Kennedy Center’s educational programs is provided by David and Alice Rubenstein through the Rubenstein Arts Access Program.
empowering theatre for young audiences
The Art of Active Dramaturgy: Transforming Critical Thought into Dramatic Action
By Lenora Inez Brown Newburyport: Focus Publishing, 2011 Reviewed by Faedra Chatard Carpenter
ne of the greatest strengths of Lenora Inez Brown’s new book, The Art of Active Dramaturgy: Transforming Critical Thought into Dramatic Action, is that it holds true to its titular claim. Threaded with sports-related metaphors, Brown’s work features active, action-oriented suggestions for students and practitioners to better understand their dramaturgical duties and activate their theatre-making process. While The Art of Active Dramaturgy was written with theatre undergraduates, first-year graduate students, and collaborators in mind, Brown has created a text that could prove useful for a wide variety of theatre professionals, teaching artists, and literaryminded pedagogues. The breadth of Brown’s potential audience speaks to the overall tone of her book: it is, at heart, an instructional handbook, but not one that is comprised of formulaic or pedantic exercises. Rather, The Art of Active Dramaturgy identifies important terms and concepts and then illustrates how readers can use these tools to stimulate their own critical and inquisitive process.
able for those working in countless areas of theatre production. Covering basic – but ever so essential – terrain, Brown emphasizes the importance of addressing aspects of dramaturgical analysis that are too frequently assumed as “givens,” and therefore often dismissed or under-acknowledged. The Art of Active Dramaturgy emphasizes the need to read a play with fresh eyes (offering methods to acknowledge the source and nature of our biases as well as ways to counter these pre-judgments), the need to identify whether one is an aural reader or a visual reader (or both), or the need to distinguish between (and understand independently) “the play’s rules,” “the rules of the play’s world,” and “the play’s voice.” With each topic raised, Brown delves deep. For example, in discussing “the play’s voice,” The Art of Active Dramaturgy presents readers with a user-friendly approach to textual analysis, prompting considerable reflection upon seven critical elements (or the “play’s facts”): story, time, character, language, image/metaphor, theme, and form or pattern.
The Art of Active Dramaturgy is divided into three different parts. Part One, aptly titled “The Fundamentals,” spends a great deal of time relaying useful approaches to script analysis. As with the remainder of the book, the material in this opening section is exceedingly valu-
Part Two, “First Encounters,” focuses on the distinct working relationship dramaturgs have with directors, playwrights, and actors. In doing so, Brown details various questioning styles, invariably posing the power, profundity, and particulars of using “open questions”
“The breadth of Brown’s potential audience speaks to the overall tone of her book: it is, at heart, an instructional handbook, but not one that is comprised of formulaic or pedantic exercises.” with theatre practitioners. With great detail, Brown examines the various elements of the open question, guiding readers through the why and how of crafting these queries while offering a number of practical examples. It is this section in particular that seems to hold a great deal of promise for artists and educators beyond the stage. Brown’s illustrative exploration of the questioning process – a prolific approach for those engaged in any kind of creative, research, and/ or journalistic project – could easily be amended and applied to a number of artistic and scholarly endeavors. In Part Three, “The Collaborative Dramaturg,” The Art of Active Dramaturgy extends the coverage of Part Two by going further into production dramaturgy (for example: What should a dramaturg actually listen or look for during a first rehearsal? During previews? What is the difference between a proactive versus a responsive note, and how does a dramaturg craft either so that it will be well-received and effective?). This third section closes by elucidating the tasks and goals of dramaturgs while taking the time to make useful distinctions between the various “types” of development programs. For instance, she explains the different nuances between workshops and festivals, and from 16-hour rehearsals to long-term residencies. Similarly, Brown covers the differing logistics, styles, and tones related to theatre post-show discussions, program notes, marketing articles, and study guides. In an effort to emphasizing action and activation, there are some points in The Art of Active Dramaturgy that fall prey to notable redundancy or sacrifice some desired complexity. One of these moments occurs in the very beginning of the book. In her insistence on a dynamic process, Brown invariably suggests that the work of theatre scholars (versus dramaturgs) is uniformly devoted to producing “scores of published papers” and that one charge of the active dramaturg is to liberate theatrical productions that may be “hobbled by 450 years of scholarship.” As conceptual entries into the book, such statements might be interpreted in unintended ways. For many of us who are both practicing dramaturgs and theatre scholars, the smallest suggestion that there is a necessary divide between art and scholarship is delimiting and caters to archaic notions of what
dramaturgy or theatre scholarship can – or should – be. However, Brown’s text itself does not cater to such a divide; with impressive strength and utility, it actually encourages the merging of intellectual analysis and creative instincts. As a book that resolves to show how critical thinking can be transformed into creative inspiration and efficacious dialogue, The Art of Active Dramaturgy suggests many ways to foster the dissolution of attitudes that can separate theatre scholarship from performance practice. The Art of Active Dramaturgy directs significant attention to framing the philosophical concerns and interests related to dramaturgy; however, it never simply ruminates on the theories behind the practice, but instead offers substantial “how-to” methodologies. Indeed, The Art of Active Dramaturgy proposes a wealth of strategies for dramaturgical interpretation, reflection, and investigation, all of which could easily find a pedagogical home in any number of related, yet distinct, fields. Subsequently, Brown’s text does provide guidance for the players within a theatre ensemble or production team. In covering ground that is useful to a variety of different artists, educators, and scholars, The Art of Active Dramaturgy can also be used to inspire and cultivate interdisciplinary collaboration and dialogue, thereby activating dramaturgy in innovative and truly artistic ways.
Faedra Chatard Carpenter is a freelance dramaturg and an assistant professor of theatre at the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. As a former resident dramaturg for Arena Stage and Crossroads Theatre Company, Carpenter has also worked as a freelance dramaturg for The Kennedy Center, The African Continuum Theatre Company, Centerstage, TheatreWorks, and The Black Women Playwrights Group.
empowering theatre for young audiences
2011 2012 SEASON T H E F I N E S T I N FA M I LY T H E AT R E
Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council of Arts and Culture, along with:
Artistic Director, Jeffrey Revels Executive Director, Gene Columbus Education Director, Gary Cadwallader
Follow us on Facebook & Twitter
re-imagining Take a look around you, branding is everywhere: beverages, technology, clothing, even TYA organizations.
By Tamara Goldbogen
hat constitutes a brand? Well, first you need a strong visual identity: logo, fonts, colors, a catchy tagline – but that is not enough. A successful brand engages on an emotional level – it is all about the customers’ experiences with your company. And what happens when your brand is no longer serving your organization? Maybe the brand is outdated. Maybe there’s been a change in management. Or maybe there’s a need to move away from a negative image. If so, then it is time for your organization to embrace the rebranding process. Rebranding is a journey, destination unknown. There are obstacles to overcome, and at the conclusion, you’re not necessarily where you expected to end up. TYA/USA recently underwent its own rebranding process. Brian Priest with Upshot Marketing in Chicago helped TYA/ USA articulate it accomplishments and goals, and strengthen the visual identity of the organization by updating the logo, website, and publications. Chris Garcia Peak, executive director of TYA/USA commented, “Brian led us on a branding process that involved creating our brand essence. This helped focus the organization’s goals and really visually launched us into the millennium.” Let’s connect with the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis and Polyglot Theatre in Australia and find out more about their own rebranding stories.
Children’s Theatre Company www.childrenstheatre.org
North America’s flagship theatre for young people and families began as The Moppet Players and in 1975 was incorporated as The Children’s Theatre Company. The Theatre’s initial brand was built on producing adaptations of classic children’s literature with extraordinary production values. Current Artistic Director Peter Brosius arrived at CTC in 1997. He took the helm and made substantial artistic changes that reshaped the Tony-Award winning theatre into the strong, clear brand that we know today. Peter challenged the field of theatre for young audiences, bringing to the stage new stories that had yet to be told. And so, a theatre that had once been known for its page-tostage approach – creating visually stunning environments that mirrored storybook illustrations – began to branch out into a new realm. The desire to build a second stage for the theatre brought with it a major rebranding process. The need to make a clear case for funding and support was the driving force of the rebranding. CTC enlisted the services of a professional marketing organization to lead the process. Unfortunately, not all partnerships are successful. After months of work, the theatre made the difficult decision to reject the final product. Elissa Adams, CTC’s director of New Play Development and one of the staff members who participated in the branding process says, “Although it was frustrating to have to walk away from a lengthy branding process with nothing concrete to show for it, I think it speaks well of the strength of CTC’s leadership and its clear vision of the theatre’s mission and its identity that we did so. It would have been easy to get caught up in the process and assume that we had to accept the outcome, but we didn’t. And that was the right decision. However, engaging in the branding exercise did help us see more clearly who we were and what image it was important for us to project – so it wasn’t all for naught!” And then there was a happy accident! The logo that CTC had been using as a placeholder, a circle around the text “children’s theatre company,” was adopted as the new logo. The simplicity of the design and the focus on the name of the theatre made this logo distinctive – it worked. CTC streamlined its name by officially dropping the “The” and now goes simply by Children’s Theatre Company. CTC continued its rebranding journey by partnering with Knock, a Minneapolis-based advertising and branding agency, in 2006. This company brought a new perspective to the brand, creating vivid, appealing brochures that featured photos of young people enjoying CTC performances. Inspired by a German theatre company, Peter Brosius had the idea to continue branding that focused on the experiences of young people and their families when they come to CTC instead of simply highlighting the play titles in the season. The central image for CTC’s 2011-12 season is a kid wearing a homemade cape standing atop the theatre’s logo raising a fist to the sky. The tag line reads “A Hero’s Journey Begins Here.” These visuals send a clear message to audiences: come experience theatre at CTC, and you will find your inner hero. CTC continues to evolve its brand with its target audience in mind. The company recognizes that kids are living in a participatory world and a do-it-yourself culture. Finding ways to transform its audiences from observers to participants is a goal for CTC. Striving to articulate, visually represent, and market the experience of its audiences – that is what’s driving CTC’s brand today.
empowering theatre for young audiences
Polyglot Theatre www.polyglottheatre.com
Polyglot Theatre is known worldwide for interactive, multi-disciplinary works like its city of cardboard boxes in We Built This City, the elastic weaving event Tangle, the messy newspaper play space Sticky Maze, and the growing paper installation Paper Planet. Polyglot has a strong presence with performances in the USA, UK, Korea, Taiwan, China, and Japan, and is now exploring new markets such as Canada, Scandinavia, Germany, and France. Established in 1978 as the Creative School Holiday Club, this Australian company changed its name to Polyglot Puppet Theatre in 1982. It was not until 2010 that the company dropped “puppet” from its name and added the tagline “theatre is child’s play.” Executive Director Simon Abrahams explained the reason for the change: “While we continue to use puppetry in our works, we didn’t want to be defined by the art form. Instead, the company has been shifting our artistic focus from puppet theatre to interactive theatre.” He goes on to explain that the rebranding goes much deeper: “In fact much of the work we’re making isn’t even theatre as such – it’s performance certainly, but it’s much more multi-disciplinary and cross-art form. It’s heavily influenced by visual arts – I guess you could call it live art.” With the company exploring these exciting new modes of art, it felt that being labeled as a “puppet theatre” was misleading. There is often a moment in an organization’s evolution that sparks a change in the brand. For Polyglot this happened in 2009 when it was time for the organization to draft a new business plan. Abrahams recalls its key question, “What is the thing that we do better than anyone else in the world?” The answer was clear: large-scale, interactive events which use simple materials in extraordinary ways. Once it honed in on the core of the brand the company realized that this wasn’t reflected in its current visual identity. The brand lacked playfulness and simplicity, which were the two most important messages the company was trying to send. In the resulting rebranding process, Polyglot benefited from an award-winning partnership with Internet solutions organization, Web Prophets. They worked together to develop Polyglot’s web presence and improve stakeholder communication in new and creative ways. When asked how Polyglot has maintained a strong brand over the years, Abrahams explained, “We’ve allowed the company to shift but always within a clear framework of what we do – the company has always been child-focused and dedicated to respectful, quality artworks that value accessibility alongside professional outcomes. This remains as true in 2011 as it did in 1978.” The Polyglot Theatre brand signifies fun, quality, and shared experiences for the whole family.
9/21/11 12:38 PM
Tamara Goldbogen teaches Theatre for Youth and Creative Drama at the University of Pittsburgh where she is director of the Theatre Arts touring outreach program. Tamara leads a study abroad program that follows the ASSITEJ World Congress and Performing Arts Festival around the world. She holds an MFA in Drama and Theatre for Youth from the University of Texas at Austin.
empowering theatre for young audiences
Celebrating 25 Years of
First Stage touches hearts, engages minds, and transforms lives by creating extraordinary theater experiences for young people and families through:
• Professional Theater productions that inspire, enlighten, and entertain • Unparalleled Theater Academy training that fosters life skills through stage skills • Dynamic Theater in Education programs that promote active learning in our schools and community
25 SEUSSICAL™ September 16 – October 16, 2011
DON’T TELL ME I CAN’T FLY October 28 – November 13, 2011
JUNIE B. IN JINGLE BELLS, BATMAN SMELLS! November 25 – December 24, 2011
A WRINKLE IN TIME January 27 – February 19, 2012
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY March 2 –31, 2012
DIARY, OF A WORM, A SPIDER AND A FLY
Find us online www.FirstStage.org www.facebook.com/FirstStage twitter.com/FirstStage www.youtube.com/user/firststage FirstStageChildrensTheater.blogspot.com
April 13 – May 13, 2012 FIRST STEPS
DON’T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS January 14 – February 12, 2012
� � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �
Theater Craftʼs premiere production of Carolyn Germanʼs award-winning The Story Builders, for Tennessee Performing Arts Centerʼs Education and Outreach.
now available for licensing to your theater company
The Story Builders written by Carolyn German
Perfect for K-8 * 5 actors * unit set * 1 hour
�������������������������������������������������������������� �������������������������������������������������������������������� Eric Booth, Faculty: The Juilliard School, Tanglewood, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center Institute .
additional new offerings
great cabaret songs
TCI also now offers a unique selection of
gutsy, funny, sweet, and fabulous tunes
speciﬁcally appropriate for young vocalists
perfect for performing arts camps, auditions, and performances
Signs of a New Day:
The Z.Alexander Looby Story
by Carolyn German
Powerful drama that chronicles the life, challenges, and triumphs of famed civil rights attorney Z.Alexander Looby.
available in November of 2011 Grades 9 & up * 10 actors * 2 Acts