Celebrating 20 Years of Education: Gina Suriano

Posted on: July 27th, 2017 by Gina Suriano


This year, Education at Roundabout celebrates its 20th Anniversary. Since 1996, Education at Roundabout has served as a national leader in arts education, using theatrical disciplines to create responsive programming that serves students, educators, early career professionals, and audiences. To celebrate this milestone, we asked members of the Education at Roundabout community to reflect on how Roundabout’s programs have impacted their lives.

Below, Gina Suriano, Roundabout's 2016-17 Special Events Apprentice, looks back on her season at Roundabout.

Gina and Roundabout's 2016-17 Apprentice Class.

My name is Gina Suriano and I was Roundabout’s Special Events Apprentice for the 2016-2017 season. Originally from Long Island, I graduated from the State University of New York at Geneseo in May 2016 with a degree in Communication and Sociology, where I was involved in Student and Campus Life, First Year Programs, Residence Life, Greek Life, Club Sports, and lots of other organizations and activities. Prior to Roundabout, I interned for my local Chamber of Commerce, held multiple internships with different departments at Geneseo, and interned at Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, NY.

I first saw The Phantom of the Opera when I was five, which sparked my love of theatre. During college, I participated in theatre and the arts by creating print materials and house managing for Geneseo’s Musical Theatre Club and A Cappella groups, as I am not an actor or singer! I’ve always had an interest in events as well, planning multiple major events for different departments and organizations at Geneseo, as well as through many internship positions.

I started at Roundabout in early September as the Special Events Apprentice in the Development Department. My main tasks included recruiting volunteers and creating volunteer timelines for all opening nights and the Gala; soliciting and organizing items for Roundabout’s major fundraisers, including the Holiday Auction, Gala Online Auction, and Casino Night; drafting and sending correspondence to donors; running a Donor Playreading; and doing other tasks related to event preparation for events including donor dinners, opening nights, fundraising events, and institutional events. In addition to the tasks I was individually responsible for, I also assisted members of the Special Events Team and Development Department with tasks as they arose. My time consisted of a wide variety of short-term and long-term projects, as well as balancing unexpected tasks.

Roundabout’s Apprentice Program was truly a learning experience, and was really designed for the Apprentices to learn about Roundabout and the different roles staff members hold in the organization. We had weekly meetings in which different Senior staff members spoke to us each week about their positions and the paths they took to get there, and we each had a Junior Staff mentor so we could learn about another department we were interested in. As the culminating experience for the apprenticeship program, we planned an event for Roundabout alumni as an Apprentice class; utilizing the skills we had gained throughout the year.

After completing the season-long Apprenticeship, I have learned so much about not just Special Events, Development and working at a not for profit, but also about what kind of work the other departments do. I have gained so much experience, and feel ready to enter the workforce. In addition to the experience I’ve gained, the people I’ve met in my Apprentice class have become some of my closest friends. Roundabout served as the perfect bridge between my college experience and the workforce, and I’m excited to tackle new challenges with the support of the Roundabout team as a Career Development Alumna!

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Education @ Roundabout

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At 10:30am on December 16, 1960, the 1700 students of St. Augustine’s School at the corner of Sterling Place and Sixth Avenue in Park Slope were in class, sheltered from the cold sleet dripping down the windows. Minutes later, they looked out those windows and saw a damaged jet descend down Sterling Place, wings clipping the tops of nearby buildings, before crashing into the intersection at Seventh Avenue.

The “Park Slope plane crash,” as it came to be called, was the deadliest aviation accident in U.S. history at the time. United Airlines flight 826 originated in Chicago and was bound for Idlewild Airport, now known as JFK. Trans World Airlines (TWA) flight 266 was en route from Columbus, Ohio, to LaGuardia Airport. The planes collided in the skies over Miller Field on Staten Island. The TWA plane, an older, propeller-driver Lockheed Super Constellation, broke apart and rained down on Miller Field and the surrounding neighborhoods of New Dorp and Midland Beach. The United plane, a year-old Douglas DC-8 jet, stayed airborne for 11 miles before smashing into the heart of Park Slope.

The crash was caused by a miscalculation by the United pilot. As he approached the New York Harbor, air traffic controllers sent him toward a navigational point near South Amboy, New Jersey, to enter a holding pattern and await clearance to land. Just before the collision, the pilot reported that he was approaching the navigational point--but his jet was already eleven miles past it. One of the jet’s navigational radios was not working, which may have contributed to the miscalculation.

All 44 people on board TWA flight 266 died in the crash, but no one on the ground in Staten Island was injured. Damage to buildings was minimal. Park Slope was not as lucky. Six people on the ground, including two sidewalk Christmas tree salesmen, a 90-year-old church caretaker, and a butcher shop employee were killed. Twelve buildings were damaged or destroyed. Firefighters worked through the day to control blazes.

There was one survivor of the crash: eleven-year-old Stephen Baltz of Wilmette, Illinois. Stephen, whose mother and sister had flown out two days earlier, was on his way to spend Christmas with family in Yonkers. He landed in a snowbank, and a photo of him, face blackened with soot, sheltered by an umbrella and surrounded by concerned residents, was on the front page of afternoon newspapers that day. New Yorkers of all faiths latched onto his survival as a miracle. Stephen Baltz died at Methodist Hospital the following morning. He described the crash before he passed away, saying, “It looked like a picture out of a fairy book. Then all of a sudden there was an explosion. The plane started to fall and people started to scream. I held onto my seat and then the plane crashed.”

Footage from the scene in Park Slope was broadcast on television within hours of the crash, marking a shift in how the nation, accustomed to newspaper and radio coverage, experienced tragic news events.

After the crash, President John F. Kennedy convened a task force on air traffic control, and new regulations were enacted to prevent mid-air collisions. Today, scars of the crash can still be seen in masonry repairs at the intersection of Sterling Place and Seventh Avenue, though there is no memorial in to the crash in Park Slope. In 2010, a memorial was erected in nearby Greenwood Cemetery, on a plot that holds unidentified, fragmentary human remains from the crash. There’s also a memorial plaque inside New York Methodist Hospital, where Stephen Baltz died.

Napoli, Brooklyn is now in performance at the Laura Pels Theatre. For tickets and information, please visit our website.

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2016-2017 Season, Napoli Brooklyn

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Celebrating 20 Years of Education: Dimitri Normil

Posted on: July 20th, 2017 by Dimitri Normil


This year, Education at Roundabout celebrates its 20th Anniversary. Since 1996, Education at Roundabout has served as a national leader in arts education, using theatrical disciplines to create responsive programming that serves students, educators, early career professionals, and audiences. To celebrate this milestone, we asked members of the Education at Roundabout community to reflect on how Roundabout’s programs have impacted their lives.

Below, Dimitri Normil, a member of Roundabout’s after school program, Student Production Workshop (SPW) reflects on his journey into costume design.

Dimitri working on SPW costumes with a Roundabout Teaching Artist.

My name is Dimitri Normil and I’m a member of the Student Production Workshop ensemble. When I first joined SPW, I was extremely nervous because it was my first-time interviewing/auditioning for something. First, I had a great interview for the Tech/Design track with Teaching Artist Theresa. Then I auditioned for the Performance track. I had only learned about SPW the night before, and in my mind, auditioning for something on such short notice seemed scary. But the atmosphere at SPW was so warm and welcoming that I felt like I could do it with no problems. After my interview and audition I was proud of myself, and that feeling grew even more when I was accepted in the Tech/Design track.

The past two years I’ve spent in SPW have been nothing but great. I’ve made some great friends and got the chance to see some amazing shows. So far, my favorites were Love, Love, Love and Therese Raquin. I’ve learned so much about technical design from Theresa and the other Teaching Artists who come in and lead workshops about costumes, set, sound, and lighting design. The Teaching Artists push you to take risks, which isn’t hard in SPW’s comfortable environment.

During my first summer at SPW, I got to be a costume designer for our production of She Was as Beautiful as the Moon. Being a costume designer was a new experience for me, and I was excited to learn more about what goes into designing character’s costumes. It was such an amazing experience. I got to work with a great mentor, and teamed up with amazing people, who are now my friends. This summer, I took on greater responsibility as the Production Manager for our production of Little By Little. SPW has taught me a lot in the past two years. I hope to take the skills I've learned and use them in the future to achieve great things. Because of SPW, I have a wide range of opportunities for my future. I'd recommend this program to anyone who enjoys theater, there's so much to take away from it. It helps you grow more as a person. Being a part SPW has been an adventure, and I can’t wait to see what next year holds.

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Education @ Roundabout, Student Production Workshop

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