Master Teaching Artist Gail Winar has been on Roundabout’s Teaching Artist roster for the past twenty years. During the day, Gail can be found in classrooms all over New York leading residencies and workshops. In the evening, you may see Gail at one of Roundabout’s theatres engaging audiences in a pre-show discussion.
For the past three years, Gail has served as the director for Roundabout’s Student Theatre Arts Festival, which will take place on May 1 this year.
Gail spoke to Education Coordinator Sarah Kutnowsky about her career and work with Roundabout.
Sarah Kutnowsky: Tell me a bit about yourself and your artistry.
Gail Winar: I attended NYU for my undergraduate degree; studied with Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg; worked with Viola Spolin; spent two summers at the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain; was a member of the Laughingstock Improv Company; and went to graduate school at the Shakespeare Theatre Company/George Washington University later in life. I am passionate about theater's power to transform.
SK: How did you come to be a teaching artist? Could you share your first arts education experience?
GW: I became a "teaching artist" before the title existed! I was an apprentice for a full season at the Pennsylvania Stage Company in Allentown, which is no longer in business. With my fellow Apprentice, I drove all around the state in a dilapidated van performing "Scenes from Stage Classics" in middle and high schools. Somewhere along the way, we began conducting workshops. We learned through experience, and I began to see how the arts could open up young people's appreciation for artistic process and self-expression.
SK: What is your favorite part about working as a teaching artist?
GW: Students surprising me with their insights, creativity and imagination! Also, the power of theater. This past summer I worked in The Gambia, West Africa with 20+ young female students from the Starfish Academy. Using techniques of Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed, we created devised theater pieces about domestic violence, and presented them to the village. This is an issue that's not discussed, especially in public, and after our presentation, the whole audience was talking and sharing. It was exhilarating, inspiring and uplifting.
SK: Do you have any exciting projects coming up?
GW: On May 1st, I'll share the stage at the American Airlines Theatre with 150 students from 11 middle and high schools, representing every borough in NYC for Roundabout's annual Student Theatre Arts Festival. I'm directing the festival's showcase, which will feature excerpts from plays, musicals and devised theater works from Roundabout’s partner schools. The showcase is the culminating event of a day-long festival featuring master classes, workshops and gallery displays that celebrate our students’ artistic voices. This is my third year participating in the festival, which is also celebrating Education at Roundabout's 20th anniversary, and I can't wait. It's an amazing experience!
Education @ Roundabout, Teaching Artist Tuesday