ROUNDABOUT BLOG

Kingdom Come

Theatre and Restorative Justice, Part II

Posted on: December 20th, 2016 by Leah Reddy

 

Leah Reddy is a Master Teaching Artist at Roundabout and has served as Partnership Coordinator for Roundabout’s partnership with Brooklyn School for Music and Theatre (BSMT) for the past 5 years. At BSMT, Roundabout Teaching Artists partner with educators to co-plan and co-facilitate 8-visit classroom residencies that explore classroom content through theatre. This fall, Leah partnered with Kayla Dinces in her creative writing class. Together, Leah and Kayla worked with the school’s Restorative Justice Coordinator, Yuko Uchikawa, to explore creative writing using theatre and restorative justice practices. The students attended Roundabout’s production of KINGDOM COME as a part of the residency. In a series of 3 blogs, Leah will share her experience as a Teaching Artist in this residency. The following is blog 2 of 3.

We began our residency with several workshops that would give us insight into what our students’ strengths and interests were. We used the story of Axton Betz-Hamilton, a woman whose mother stole her identity when she was a child, as a basis for quickly writing and performing scenes. The themes of Betz-Hamilton’s story parallel those of Kingdom Come: dignity, identity, technology, and betrayal.

One of the things we do in the education department at Roundabout is to mirror the professional theatre process and artist’s process. I plant those seeds in reading and writing activities by asking students to think like directors and choose words and phrases that call up images for them or are “juicy” or compelling. Those selections became the seeds of the scenes they wrote, then performed.

From there we jumped into an exploration of The Essential Elements of Dignity as outlined by Dr. Donna Hicks, which was Yuko’s idea. The elements make a potentially hard-to-define concept really concrete, and they made a great lens through which to read and see Kingdom Come.

We read key scenes as a class, then found moments where characters upheld or violated each other’s dignity. Digging into why, for example, Suz doesn’t offer Layne understanding or acknowledgement or safety in their first scene together gave students a new way to consider some basic acting ideas: where a character is coming from, and what her objective is. It also raised our own awareness of why we act the way do in our real lives.

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The class loved the student matinee, and the opportunity to talk to Alex Hernandez and Socorro Santiago after the show. The actors were curious if the students’ expectations for the play were what they saw onstage. A student mentioned that the character of Samantha wasn’t what she expected after reading a scene from the play in class.This prompted the actors to ask the students whether they could see other characters played by actors of different races or backgrounds, to which they answered a resounding yes. It’s crucial that students see themselves reflected in the theatre, and this play was especially engaging because of the subject matter and the casting.

After the show we focused on the ending. What are all the ways a conflict can resolve? Does resolution demand a restoration of dignity? We took those ideas into creating our own scene about dignity and conflict.


Related Categories:
2016-2017 Season, Education @ Roundabout, Kingdom Come, Roundabout Underground, Teaching Artist Tuesday


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Student Production Workshop: Kingdom Come Ensemble Day

Posted on: December 16th, 2016 by Sarah Kutnowsky

 

Playwright Jenny Rachel Weiner speaking with the SPW ensemble

Playwright Jenny Rachel Weiner speaking with the SPW ensemble

Student Production Workshop, Roundabout’s youth ensemble, came together last month to explore Kingdom Come through a pre-show workshop and a discussion with playwright Jenny Rachel Weiner. After dinner, the ensemble attended the evening performance of Kingdom Come.

Roundabout Teaching Artists Elizabeth Dunn-Ruiz and Jason Jacobs led a workshop that explored how playwrights can use a state of being, in this case loneliness, to inform a play. “The show seems to address questions of connection and loneliness, so working with teenagers, we thought that was something they could relate to. We wanted them to think about not only the feelings that are associated with loneliness, but also the behaviors that come from loneliness,” said Elizabeth of their goals for the day.

The ensemble began the workshop by competing in an alphabet relay, where they wrote out their responses to the word “loneliness”. They then created tableaus, from which they wrote monologues. After sharing their monologues in a small group, the students worked together to write a play inspired by the characters they had created. Kingdom Come playwright Jenny Rachel Weiner arrived just as the students were presenting their plays. “Loneliness is such a cross-generational topic, so it was amazing to see their take on loneliness, and their experience of it. It was really moving to see their work,” said Jenny of the students’ writing.

Students competing in the alphabet relay exercise.

Students competing in the alphabet relay exercise.

After their presentations, the ensemble had the opportunity to sit down with Jenny and talk about Kingdom Come and her career as a playwright. The students asked her about collaborating with designers on the show, writing relationships that exist only online, and how she, as a female playwright, remains persistent without being labeled as “pushy”.

Students took away new insights from their conversation with Jenny, both personal and academic. Feleesha, a member of SPW’s acting ensemble, realized something new about the challenges of playwriting, “Jenny talked about the arch of a story, as well as the arch of the characters. I didn’t realize that individual characters have their own arches too. As a playwright, not only do you have to worry about the story being cohesive, but you also have to see that the individual characters are growing within the story, along with the storyline. I had never thought of that before.” Tamia, another acting ensemble member, was particularly excited to learn more about the successes of a female playwright “I like that she was motivated to make sure that the play was what she wanted it to be and how she wanted it to be. I really admire the drive that she has.”

A student sharing her monologue with her peers and Teaching Artist Elizabeth Dunn-Ruiz

A student sharing her monologue with her peers and Teaching Artist Elizabeth Dunn-Ruiz

Jenny felt similarly inspired after their meeting, “It always feels so special and really important to me to be able to talk to young people who are interested in theatre, because I so deeply remember being that age and being so excited and passionate about having a life in the theatre.” The students definitely had an evening that they won’t soon forget.


Related Categories:
2016-2017 Season, Education @ Roundabout, Kingdom Come, Roundabout Underground, Student Production Workshop


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Kingdom Come: Read, Watch, Listen

Posted on: December 14th, 2016 by Morgan Grambo

 

Jenny Rachel Weiner’s Kingdom Come opened in Roundabout’s Black Box Theatre on November 2, 2016. In this Roundabout Underground production we meet Samantha and Layne, two lonely women looking for a real connection online. However, when both pretend to be someone else, revealing the truth may have tremendous consequences.

 

TO READ

Horse Girls
by Jenny Rachel Weiner

Welcome to the Lady Jean Ladies, South Florida’s most exclusive horse club. Horse Girls has been produced by theatres across the country, including the cell, Ars Nova’s Ant Fest, and Fordham/Primary Stages in New York City. Jenny Rachel Weiner’s darkly comedic play about middle school girls that love horses more than anything in the entire world is well worth the less-than-an-hour it requires to read. According to TheatreMania, “Weiner’s play gallops along the fine line between the ridiculous and (tragically) plausible, which is the source of its immense humor.”

Closer
by Patrick Marber

Kingdom Come explores the complexity of human connection in our increasingly technological world. Making its London premiere in 1997, Patrick Marber’s Closer was one of the first plays to tackle presenting the reality of anonymous love and lust connections the internet had to offer. Closer weaves an intricate of four people trading romantic partners and struggling to understand the relationship between love and truth.

 

TO WATCH

Catfish

Catfish [kat-fish] noun – a person who pretends to be someone they’re not, using social media to create a false identity, particularly to pursue deceitful online romances. –Nev Schulman’s website

In 2010, filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman released a documentary centered around a developing online relationship between Ariel’s brother Nev and a young woman named Megan. When it becomes clear that they have been lied to, the young men decide to travel to Michigan to meet the person behind the profile. Rotten Tomatoes states that the film’s “timely premise and a tightly wound mystery make for a gripping documentary.” If Kingdom Come sparks your interest in this phenomenon, Catfish will satiate your intrigue and leave you on the edge of your seat for the entirety of the film’s eighty seven minutes.

The American President

In Kingdom Come, Samantha and Layne share their mutual love for this 1995 film starring Michael Douglas and Annette Bening. While they are both embarrassed to admit that it is their favorite movie, The American President is noted as one of the greatest love stories in American cinema by the American Film Institute. Just be prepared for when Sydney walks down the stairs in her red dress, it’s a “tears.streaming.down.my.face” moment according to Samantha.

 

TO LISTEN

Stop in Nevada
By Billy Joel

Carson City, Nevada is home to the characters of Kingdom Come and Billy Joel’s 1973 song “Stop in Nevada” holds a special place in Layne’s heart. Jenny Rachel Weiner revealed that his music was on repeat as she wrote Kingdom Come. Listen to the song and more of Billy Joel’s greatest hits below.

 


Kingdom Come is now playing at the Black Box Theatre at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre. Visit our website for tickets and more information.


Related Categories:
2016-2017 Season, Kingdom Come, Roundabout Underground


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