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.
Education @ Roundabout, Teaching Artist Tuesday