ROUNDABOUT BLOG

Teaching Artist Tuesday

Interview with Teaching Artist Ashley Newman

Posted on: February 9th, 2016 by Abby Case

 

Ashley Newman

Ashley Newman

Ashley Newman began her work as a Teaching Artist with Roundabout this season. She attended Roundabout’s Theatrical Teaching Institute in August, where she was introduced the Theatrical Teaching Framework. The Theatrical Teaching Framework utilizes basic theatrical elements (theme, plot, spectacle and character) and establishes parallels to educational components such as academic content, lesson plan, structure, classroom setting and teaching demeanor. This fall, Ashley worked in a classroom residency at Bronx Theatre High School.

 

Abby Case: Tell me a bit about yourself and your artistry. How did you come to be a teaching artist?

Ashley Newman: I have a background in dancing, choreography, and education. I did not know about Teaching Artistry until I was in graduate school at Bank Street College of Education. I was in the process of becoming a Middle School Social Studies teacher when I went to a workshop with a Teaching Artist. Her workshop was amazing, and that was the moment I knew I had to become a TA! I thought to myself, "I know how to do this!" It was very natural to me to lead a group of people through an arts workshop in a school setting. I finished my Master’s degree and then started pursuing teaching artist work.

 

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

AN: I love blending my arts background and time spent as a performer with my education background. Instead of teaching students Social Studies, I can teach them about a subject I am an expert in, and I love that!

TeachingArtist_Ashley

AC: What is the most challenging part about working as a teaching artist?

AN: There are so many different factors that can influence your work as a TA at any given moment - last minute changes to the space you have, the schedule or time you have been given, the students that come (or don't come) to your class, or current emotions of the students, what the classroom teacher is dealing with at the moment....the list is long! We as Teaching Artists have to be very flexible and have a Plan A, B, and C and be able to shift gears with a moment’s notice!

 

AC: Could you share a memorable lesson or moment from your time as a teaching artist at Roundabout?

AN: As a part of my training with Roundabout, I shadowed Jason Jacobs’ residency at Bronx Theatre High School this fall. I worked with one student on writing a play. I keep challenging her to raise the stakes for her characters, and we kept reading the play out loud to see where we could revise. She was appreciative of my help and we had a good time working together. We had a connection, and I think we will both remember it as something special!


Related Categories:
Education @ Roundabout, Teaching Artist Tuesday


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Interview with Teaching Artist Devin Haqq

Posted on: January 26th, 2016 by Abby Case

 

Devin leading a workshop at James Madison High School

Devin leading a workshop at James Madison High School

Devin Haqq has been a Teaching Artist with Roundabout for the past eight years. He teaches in classrooms across New York City and serves as Partnership Coordinator for Fordham High School for the Arts in the Bronx. As Partnership Coordinator, Devin works with school leadership and educators to ensure that the school’s partnership with Roundabout best serves their goals. Devin also works on professional development with teachers and teaching artists throughout New York. As a member of the Teaching Artist Advisory Group, Devin collaborates with other teaching artists to better Roundabout’s TA training.

Education Coordinator Abby Case spoke with Devin about his career and work at Roundabout.

Abby Case: Tell me a bit about yourself and your artistry.

Devin Haqq: I've lived and worked in New York City as a professional actor for almost 15 years. I'm a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Screen Actors Guild, and the American Federation for Radio and Television Artists. Over the past 10 years I've ventured into the realm of independent filmmaking and amassed a body of work, numbering four feature film productions. In the past two years I've also become a published writer with essays appearing in Filmmaker Magazine and the Huffington Post.

 

AC: How did you begin to work as a teaching artist?

DH: I received my training as a teaching artist here at Roundabout through its Theatrical Teaching Institute (TTI). TTI is a six-day intensive introduction to the Theatrical Teaching Framework, which utilizes basic theatrical elements (theme, plot, spectacle and character) and establishes parallels to educational components such as academic content, lesson plan, structure, classroom setting and teaching demeanor. My first classroom experience was frightening because I was inexperienced and unsure of myself as an educator, but over time I became more confident and grew to love being in the classroom.

 

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

DH: My favorite part about working as a teaching artist is introducing the craft of theatre to students who have no experience whatsoever in the world of the theatre. I enjoy watching the discoveries that young students make as they take risks and challenge themselves to move away from their comfort zones. I love to see young people grow as artists, or better yet, discover their potential as artists in society. Nothing is more rewarding than to see a young person who expressed extreme doubt about being able to perform in front of a crowd conquer that fear by the end of the rehearsal process and shine, surprising themselves, their teachers, and their families.

 

AC: What is the most challenging part about working as a teaching artist?

DH: Some schools have cultures of low expectations and disorder. Sometimes, this leads to low attendance and poor classroom management. It can be very difficult to engage students to effectively complete a project, especially when group work is required, when most of the class does not attend school on a regular basis.

 

AC: Could you share a memorable lesson or moment from your time as a teaching artist at Roundabout?

DH: I still think about the Postcard Production Workshop of Thérèse Raquin that I directed at Repertory Company High School for Theatre Arts. A Postcard Production Workshop allows students to experience the process of creating a theatrical production by having them fulfill the roles of set, costume, light and sound designers, stage managers, director, actors and marketing staff.  The workshop culminated with students presenting their own interpretation of an excerpt from Thérèse Raquin.

By far this was the best Postcard Production Workshop I have ever experienced as a teaching artist. I gave the students a real challenge: to create an immersive theatre experience with the scene we were given. Not only did the students meet the challenge, but they excelled in ways I could not have imagined. It was so rewarding to see their reactions from the audience as they journeyed through the interactive experience these students had created.


Related Categories:
Education @ Roundabout, Teaching Artist Tuesday


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Interview with Teaching Artist Jason Jacobs

Posted on: January 15th, 2016 by Abby Case

 

Jason facilitating a talkback after a Student Matinee of UGLY LIES THE BONE

Jason facilitating a talkback after a Student Matinee of UGLY LIES THE BONE

Roundabout Master Teaching Artist (TA) Jason Jacobs has served students and patrons through Education at Roundabout for the past eight years. During the school day, Jason can be found in classrooms leading residencies and workshops. In the afternoon, Jason mentors and facilitates workshops for students in Roundabout’s after-school theatre company, Student Production Workshop (SPW). In the evening, you may find Jason at one of Roundabout’s theatres engaging audiences in a pre-show discussion. Jason also is a contributing writer for Roundabout’s UPSTAGE Guides, where he writes articles as well as teacher resources and activities.

In addition to his direct work with students and patrons, Jason serves in leadership positions. As a member of the Teaching Artist Advisory Group, Jason works with other teaching artists to better Roundabout’s TA training. He also serves as Partnership Coordinator for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School where he works with school leadership and educators to ensure that the school’s partnership with Roundabout best serves their goals.

Education Coordinator Abby Case spoke with Jason about his career and work at Roundabout.

 

Abby Case: Tell me a bit about yourself and your artistry.

Jason Jacobs: I think I came out of the womb directing theatre. Certainly, as soon as I could walk and talk, I was bossing people around, telling them where to move and how to act. A few years later I saved my allowance and bought a used typewriter, and I started writing plays. My first production was my adaptation of Snow White performed by my third grade class. I kept thinking I would outgrow it and get "a real job." Fortunately I never outgrew it. I love directing and writing, so I consider myself a theatre-maker. I also am a nerd who loves theatre history and dissecting how dramatic structure works, so I have this dramaturgy sideline going as well.

 

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

JJ: Through some friends in Long Island I was invited to create a project at Bay Shore High School, as part of the school's Ethnic Pen Conference. I worked with a diverse, small group of students to adapt essays they had written in an English class. We created an ensemble-piece that explored these students' relationships to their own cultural backgrounds. All was good until one scary day when an administrator became alarmed about students telling their own stories on stage, and our project was almost shut down! It was my first introduction (as an adult) to the power dynamics of a school. But freedom of expression prevailed, and the students' show was a hit of the festival!

 

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

JJ: I love bringing the theatrical activities and techniques that I use to create and direct theatre, and applying these tools to engage students. I feel like I expand my impact as an artist by working with students and teachers, and hopefully by bringing my own passion to create and learn into their world. When we talk about "turning classrooms into theaters and theaters into classrooms," I get very excited about all the possible ways we can do that. There's also a creative feedback-loop, because I find the experiences I have in the schools inspire the stories I am telling in my own work.

 

AC: What is the most challenging part about working as a teaching artist?

JJ: The NYC school environment is so different from my high school experience, which was at a public school in a much smaller district. The work has exposed me to the big issues our city (and nation) are struggling with regarding public education. I've seen the negative impact of the politics and power struggles on the teachers and administrators we work with. I've seen many great teachers leave the profession or move out of the city. Because of this, staying positive and creative in an indifferent or sometimes obstructive environment can be challenging. But, what makes it possible is the support I always feel from our amazing Education Staff and the peer-support from the other inspiring TAs on our roster.

 

AC: Could you share a memorable lesson or moment from your time as a teaching artist at Roundabout?

JJ: Some of my best moments have been collaborating with two inspiring social studies teachers (Alison Ritz and Debbie White) at Bronx Theatre High School. A few years ago, we were doing a curriculum connections residency with 12th grade government students, aligned with Roundabout’s production of The Winslow Boy. We had students reading and analyzing the official NYC Department of Education Rights and Responsibilities document to understand the rights students had. I remember one student being so engaged with the information and saying she wanted to take it home and read the whole thing. That kind of empowerment and engagement makes the whole experience so worthwhile!


Related Categories:
Education @ Roundabout, Teaching Artist Tuesday


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