Student Production Workshop

Education at Roundabout: College and Career Readiness Workshop for SPW

Posted on: July 25th, 2016 by Sarah Kutnowsky



Students brainstorming interview tips with lawyer Adam Dennett

On July 21st, Student Production Workshop (SPW) ensemble members took part in a College and Career Readiness Interview Skills Workshop at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre. The workshop is one in a series of four College and Career Readiness Workshops, each covering a different aspect of college and career planning.

The workshop focused on the choices students can make to best present themselves at an interview. With Roundabout Teaching Artists Leah Reddy and Hannah Johnson-Walsh, students explored how posture, eye contact, and facial expression all impact one’s first impression. “I want them to be more confident with the idea of going to an interview. Now they feel like this is something they can do,” said Hannah of her hopes for the workshop’s impact on students.

Teaching Artist Leah played the role of “Sam Student," an unskilled interviewer who dreams of going to Ohio State University. After a particularly bad college interview, Sam begged the other students to help her improve her interview skills. Together, the students gave Sam advice, modeled etiquette in practice interviews, and shared their elevator speeches, a brief introduction that highlights their aspirations and accomplishments.


A student and lawyer Amie N. Broder practicing elevator speeches

Students received additional support from lawyers from Troutman Sanders LLP, who participated in the workshop and shared their interview expertise with students. Robert Schaffer, a partner at Troutman Sanders, was delighted that the students could benefit from the firm’s collaboration with Roundabout. “I was particularly impressed and excited to see how the advocacy and legal skills that the Troutman people brought into the room really merged with the craft of theatre. Together, we were able to make a synergy to help these students progress in presenting themselves.”

As the workshop ended and the participants reflected on their experience, many students expressed that they felt more confident about going on an interview. When asked how she would use these skills in the future, Lally Varela, an SPW student leader, said “Not only will it help for college interviews, but definitely when I’m applying for jobs. The person that you’re talking to needs to know that you know who you are, and what you can do. It’s great that now I know what to do, it helps a lot.”

We gratefully acknowledge the partnership of Troutman Sanders LLP and the firm’s generous support of Education at Roundabout during this 50th Anniversary Season.

Related Categories:
Education @ Roundabout, Student Production Workshop

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A Student’s Perspective: The Robber Bridegroom

Posted on: May 4th, 2016 by Yasmine Haddad


rbg1Roundabout’s high school education intern, Yasmine Haddad, participated in a pre-show workshop and talk with the cast before attending The Robber Bridegroom with Student Production Workshop (SPW) students. She recounts her experience below:

Last week, SPW students and I got the opportunity to work with Carrie Heitman, a teaching artist from Roundabout, who led us in a workshop surrounding The Robber Bridegroom. After the workshop, we met with cast members and attended the show.

Carrie established the focus on the characters from the musical through fun, creative activities. Since some of the characters in The Robber Bridegroom are criminals, Carrie initiated the workshop by having us describe the stereotypes or images associated with words like “robber” or “theft.” She then asked one person to stand in the middle of the room, while the rest of the participants divided into two groups. One group’s goal was to convince the individual standing to steal, while the other group’s goal was to dissuade the individual from stealing. Both groups made impressive arguments like “How would your mother feel knowing she raised a thief? As your mother, she would be very disappointed” or “Your child needs that new calculator for school, without any money, all you really can do is steal” to support their causes.


Following this, Carrie shifted our focus to lyrical analysis in relation to the characters. She asked us what kind of lyrics a good musical should include. We answered with responses about how the songs should have rhythm and tie back to the plot while offering insight on the performer's perspective. Carrie asked us to work in groups again to create lyrics describing the personalities of some of the characters based off the scenes we read from the script she provided us with earlier. Each group performed the song. I think my group had the funniest lyrics because we made fun of the character Salome for being a gold digger. At the end of the workshop, we thanked Carrie for her time and prepared for our Q&A with some of the cast members from The Robber Bridegroom.

We shared a fun, light discussion with the cast members and gained insight on the rehearsal and audition process that took place before the show hit the stage. I learned that some of the actors and the director, Alex Timbers, have been working on The Robber Bridegroom for quite some time now, and everybody is excited that it’s finally happening! One of the questions that was asked was what is the main difference between the actors and their characters, to which  Greg Hildreth, who portrays Goat, answered, “My character is dimwitted and I like to think I’m not.”


Cathlouin, a member of SPW, asked Nadia Quinn how she developed her character as Goat’s mother. Nadia shared with us how she met with Alex and decided to give the character a background story, where she and her son have a junkyard and they sell used items to get by. When asked what his favorite moment from the musical was, Lance Robert, the actor portraying Clement Musgrove, stated it was during the musical number for “Steal With Style” because he feels as if he’s in a music video. Lance told us to keep a look-out for his face during the song for proof of his claims.

After sharing a pizza dinner, we went to finally view The Robber Bridegroom downstairs in the theatre, and we’re very pleased with the production, it was so much fun to watch! My favorite song was “Rosamund’s Dream.” We even waited for Lance’s reaction during the show and were not disappointed with what we saw!

The Robber Bridegroom is now playing at The Laura Pels Theatre. For tickets and information, please visit our website.

Related Categories:
2015-2016 Season, Education @ Roundabout, Student Production Workshop, The Robber Bridegroom

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Interview with Teaching Artist Elizabeth Dunn-Ruiz

Posted on: February 22nd, 2016 by Abby Case


Elizabeth collaborating with other Roundabout Teaching Artists during the Teaching Artist Winter Lab

Elizabeth collaborating with other Roundabout Teaching Artists during the Teaching Artist Winter Lab

Elizabeth Dunn-Ruiz’s relationship with Roundabout began when she was in the classroom at Bronx Theatre High School. She’s since transitioned to become a Master Teaching Artist at Roundabout, where she’s served for the past seven seasons. Elizabeth facilitates workshops for students across the city. She is very involved in Student Production Workshop, where she serves as mentor for the student playwrights. This year, she’s mentored them in developing scenes for the Winter Showcase and led them in a pre-show workshop for Noises Off.

Education Coordinator Abby Case spoke with Elizabeth about her career and work at Roundabout.
Abby Case: Tell me a bit about yourself and your artistry.

Elizabeth Dunn-Ruiz: My whole career can be summed up in two ideas: words and community. I've been working as an educator in and around the Bronx for 17 years. I have worked with middle school, high school, college, and adult learners as a teacher of reading, writing, performing, and theatre-making. In every educational experience, I am devoted to building community and exploring the power of language.


AC: How did you come to be a teaching artist? Could you share your first arts education experience?

EDR: I began my career as a full-time classroom teacher in the South Bronx and after several years there the opportunity arose to partner with Roundabout and co-found Bronx Theatre High School. It was an amazing experience to create a school inspired by Roundabout's philosophy of using theatrical skills to teach the required curriculum. When I returned to school to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing at The New School, I joined the Roundabout Teaching Artist Roster.


AC: What is your favorite part about working as a teaching artist?

EDR: I love working with young playwrights and watching them develop their writing skills and belief that their point of view and voice matters. It is a joy to watch a young playwright hear his or her work read aloud for the first time. Any time a young person comes to me and declares that they now know what they want to do with their life feels like a win.

Related Categories:
Education @ Roundabout, Student Production Workshop, Teaching Artist Tuesday

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