ROUNDABOUT BLOG

Teaching Artist Tuesday

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.

bsmt02-02

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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Theatre and Restorative Justice

Posted on: December 13th, 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 1 of 3.

Why combine theatre and Restorative Justice practices?

At the beginning of the school year I met Yuko Uchikawa, the Restorative Justice coordinator at Brooklyn School for Music and Theatre (BSMT), a high school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Roundabout helped found BSMT over a decade ago, and I’m the partnership coordinator there. BSMT began working with the Restorative Justice model last year.

Yuko told me that the goal of Restorative Justice was to bring the community together to create resilience to conflict. On a basic level, the model looks like a circle:

In a school, Restorative Justice might take the form of training students to lead peer mediation, a change in approach to discipline, activities to build teachers’ awareness of the behavior they’re modeling, and reflection circles to build relationships.

As Yuko and I talked, we realized that there was a lot of overlap in what we were trying to do. Like Restorative Justice, theatre builds listening skills and empathy, encourages understanding multiple points of view, and challenges us to really listen to and connect with each other.

Yuko wondered about how to make concepts like respect and dignity active and physical, something theatre is great at doing. And I had been thinking a lot about how to make sure the way I taught was inclusive and provided space for honest, meaningful reflection.

So we decided to combine our approaches in a residency. We’re working with teacher Kayla Dinces and her creative writing class for seniors. We’ve decided to explore the question: How does an ensemble explore themes of respect and dignity in performance? We hope the residency, which includes 8 classroom visits and a trip to see Kingdom Come at Roundabout, will result in a short performance with a student-lead reflection discussion afterwards. I’ll be sharing the progress of our work here on this blog each Tuesday in December.


Related Categories:
Education @ Roundabout, Teaching Artist Tuesday


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Interview with Teaching Artist Leah Reddy

Posted on: December 6th, 2016 by Sarah Kutnowsky

 

Roundabout Master Teaching Artist Leah Reddy has worked with Education at Roundabout for the past ten years. During the day, Leah can be found in classrooms leading residencies and workshops. In the evening, you may see Leah at one of Roundabout’s theatres engaging audiences in a pre-show discussion. During the summer, Leah acts as the Marketing mentor for Student Production Workshop. Leah is also a contributing writer for Roundabout’s UPSTAGE guides, where she writes articles and activities for teachers to use with their students.

In addition to her work with students and patrons, Leah serves in leadership positions. As a member of the Teaching Artist Advisory Group, Leah works with other teaching artists to better Roundabout’s TA training, which she also co-facilitates. She also serves as a Partnership Coordinator for Brooklyn School for Music and Theatre, where she works with school leadership and educators to ensure that the school’s partnership with Roundabout best serves their goals.

Education Coordinator Sarah Kutnowsky spoke with Leah about her career and work at Roundabout.

Teaching Artist Leah Reddy facilitating a talkback after a student matinee.

Teaching Artist Leah Reddy facilitating a talkback after a student matinee.

Sarah Kutnowsky: Tell me a bit about yourself and your artistry.
Leah Reddy: I grew up on the west side of Cincinnati, Ohio. I went to The Ohio State University and moved to New York after graduation. I started out as an actor/director, but in the past five years I've spent more time on writing, photography, and video production, in addition to teaching. All the work I do comes back to telling a story, and I'm never sure what I'm going to be doing next.

SK: How did you come to be a teaching artist? Could you share your first arts education experience?
LR: I answered an audition notice for Roundabout on Playbill.com right after I moved to city. The audition consisted of teaching a lesson, and I used the plot of the Saved by the Bell episode about zit cream to talk about script analysis. My first arts education experience was probably kindergarten dance class. I didn't get hooked on theatre until second grade, when we performed "Achoo! The Mouse That Saved Christmas" in our holiday program. I played Nibbles, and most of my lines involved eating cheese.

SK: What is your favorite part about working as a teaching artist?
LR: I love making theatre, seeing theatre, and talking about theatre, and that's what I get to do as a teaching artist. I love the community theatre creates, and thinking about how we build community. My teaching work is also part activism. I hope that it empowers students to express themselves and think critically about representation in the media and how the stories we see and share shape us. I also hope it gets them thinking about the professional world and how to make their way in it. Also, my fellow TAs and the Education staff are the most amazing people and artists. They challenge and inspire me all the time.

Do you have any exciting projects coming up?
LR: I had the opportunity to shoot a series of short videos about issues around water access in Cuba this summer. We're editing them now and they'll be used a water justice conference in 2017.

Over the next month, Leah will share her experience working with students at Brooklyn School for Music and Theatre in a residency focusing on restorative justice for the Roundabout blog.


Related Categories:
Education @ Roundabout, Teaching Artist Tuesday


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