Teaching Artist Tuesday

Interview with Teaching Artist Daniel Robert Sullivan

Posted on: August 16th, 2016 by Abby Case


Daniel at the Student Theatre Arts Festival in 2012.

Daniel at the Student Theatre Arts Festival in 2012.

Master Teaching Artist Daniel Robert Sullivan has been on Roundabout’s Teaching Artist Roster for the past sixteen years. Daniel just returned from a long run as Tommy DeVito in the Las Vegas production of Jersey Boys, but spent much of his time out West coordinating the rolling world premiere of Prospect High: Brooklyn, a play he conceived and co-wrote with a team of New York City teenagers in Roundabout’s Education Studio.

Through Roundabout, Daniel has served New York City students and educators in multiple ways. He has served as the director for Roundabout’s annual Student Theatre Arts Festival and trained educators through Roundabout’s Theatrical Teaching Institute. He’s also facilitated multiple classroom residencies in Roundabout Partner School classrooms.

Educator Program Manager Abby Case spoke with Daniel about his career and work at Roundabout.

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

Daniel Robert Sullivan: I'm an actor, writer, and teaching artist trying to keep my feet firmly planted in all three disciplines.

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

DRS: While student-teaching in Rhode Island during college, I was tasked with introducing Julius Caesar to an English class. The traditional lesson plans used during this unit had much to do with analyzing the text and working through the meaning of words, and very little to do with the raw emotional power of performance. I thought, “Well, shoot, I can get these kids to like Shakespeare way more by showing it to"

I asked a fellow actor to bust into the classroom at a particular time and begin a speech from the play, which I then countered with another. It was wild and completely effective. The 'bust-in' is teaching artist technique...I just didn't know there was such a thing as a 'teaching artist' until the following year when I moved to New York. A friend introduced me to Roundabout's Education program, I was mentored and inspired by its early leaders - Margie Salvante and Renee Fleming - and I've been attached ever since.

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

DRS: My favorite bits are usually those that follow some kind of sharing event, much like my favorite part of performing is often the moment immediately after the curtain call. After the work has been presented, it is then time to reflect on how it has changed you. And it always, always changes you. Having students articulate this change is my favorite part.

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

DRS: Working in the room is fulfilling, but scheduling the work in the room is the hardest part. We all must balance our own creative work with the creative classroom work, and the classrooms we work in are all over the city! So piecing it all together remains a challenge.

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

DRS: The very first Student Theatre Arts Festival stands out as a moment to remember. Students from all over NYC gathered together to perform short scenes on Broadway. Not only did they meet and connect with each other, but the legitimacy of their stage gave them confidence and the respect of their peers and family who had come to watch.

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

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Interview with Teaching Artist Carrie Heitman

Posted on: July 18th, 2016 by Abby Case



Teaching Artist Carrie Heitman working with students at the Student Theatre Arts Festival

Master Teaching Artist, Carrie Heitman, joined Roundabout’s Teaching Artist roster in 2008. She leads a variety of residencies and workshops for students in the city. She currently serves as Partnership Coordinator for James Madison High School where she works with school leadership and educators to ensure that the partnership with Roundabout best serves their goals. Carrie also works with educators to implement theatrical teaching by instructing at Roundabout’s Theatrical Teaching Institute and training the cast and crew of Cabaret on tour to work with students.

Education Program Manager Abby Case spoke with Carrie about her career and work with Roundabout.


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

Carrie Heitman: I love dogs. Really any animal. Really love to travel. I was an artist that was only interpretive, a real “actor's actor”. But now I consider myself a generative artist too. I make things. I am co-artistic director of Hook & Eye Theater. As a devising theater ensemble, we create original pieces.

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

CH: I've been a teacher since camp days. You know the drill- went to camp, became a junior counselor, then a real counselor, and then took over the drama program. My real first teaching experience would be right out of undergrad in Michigan, when I taught at a Juvie camp in New Jersey. Either these young adults could go to Juvie, or to this camp. It was a radical experience for me and put me on a path of knowing I would be involved in arts education in one capacity or another.

AC: What is your favorite part of working as a teaching artist, and what is the most challenging?

CH: There are many favorite parts. One of them is when I witness a student's confidence soar. One of the most challenging aspects is having students I am unable to reach for a myriad of reasons out of my control.

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

CH: I remember working with an English as a Second Language student who saw Nick Payne's If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet (2012) and wrote a monologue about her experience of the play offering how she identified with one of the characters. Her level of vulnerability still astounds me today when I recall her standing in front of her peers and sharing.

Related Categories:
Education @ Roundabout, Teaching Artist Tuesday

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Follow an Education at Roundabout School Residency

Posted on: April 26th, 2016 by Alan Bounville


“What is life like for an immigrant and their family?”

“What is life like when you feel trapped?”

11th Grade students at Repertory Company High School answered these questions through exploration of Long Day's Journey Into Night and interview theatre techniques to produce an original show for their community. Roundabout Teaching Artist and theatre artist Alan Bounville shares a little about his journey creating this work:

Teaching Artist Alan Bounville with students.

Teaching Artist Alan Bounville with Repertory Company High School students.

This project began when the school’s principal, Mr. Fram, and theatre teacher, Mr. McIntosh, decided to embed the creation of an interview theatre play about immigration into the curriculum for their junior class’ yearlong research project on the subject. The play was to focus on the stories and perspectives of immigrants to the USA. At the onset of the project, each student was asked to interview an immigrant and then transcribe a story from that interview. The overarching research question of the residency was, “How do immigrants to the USA view the term, “American Dream?” The result: dozens of rich and nuanced stories that focused on freedom, family, struggle, opportunity, education and resources. Myriad perspectives on these themes were heard in this play, aptly titled, What is the American Dream?

Producing Partners residencies encourage students and teachers to model professional theatre practice as they work towards producing their own show.  Embedded into this residency was a pre-show workshop and attendance at the student matinee of Long Day’s Journey Into Night. O’Neill’s masterwork related directly to Repertory Company High School’s show. Both pieces have their roots in first person accounts: O’Neill’s is based on his own upbringing and Repertory Company High School’s shares direct accounts from people living today.

In our pre-show workshop, we explored the show’s themes through scene work about immigration and other issues from the script for Long Day’s Journey Into Night (addiction, physical and mental illness, and family discord). Students explored playing the material in ways that didn’t allow for escape. The results were dynamic! Some scene groups confined their work to very specific areas of the room. Some physically blocked their partners in subtle or overt ways. One group put the play’s matriarch, Mary Tyrone, into an imaginary box. As the actor performed, all we saw was her mouth moving as she struggled to escape. Due to this, the other characters’ voices in the scene became disquietingly clear. At the student matinee, the students were rapt with attention (as Jessica Lange recently pointed out in this interview). At intermission and after the show, we discussed the connections between that show and their own. This discussion continued throughout the rest of the residency.

Students in rehearsal for the show

Students in rehearsal

Through a series of several workshops and mentoring sessions, students explored the interview theatre genre by interviewing and transcribing, play editing, and performing. Within the editing process we looked for the overall arc of the show, shifting things around, and editing further until we reached our final script. Students then worked with Roundabout Teaching Artist Creighton Irons to create a musical refrain echoing the show’s title. The refrain was both haunting and interrogating. It paralleled the diversity of experiences and viewpoints about the immigration process that were represented in their play. As we neared the final performance script, we didn’t waste a moment getting the show on its feet. During rehearsals, the students worked in small groups and continued refining the pieces up until opening night. By the residency’s end, Mr. McIntosh and I faded into the background as the students ran the entire show!

Students work on marketing materials for the show.

Students work on marketing materials

The students at Repertory Company High School did one of the most honorable things you can do as an artist: they created something that didn’t exist before. And because they took the time to listen to people’s stories and then create What is the American Dream?, more voices have been heard. At their play’s end, they pose the question: “What is your American Dream?” It is a question that I feel is also embedded deeply in Long Day’s Journey Into Night. It is a question that I will carry with me as I continue my work as an artist and educator. As the artistic director of IN OUR WORDS, a theatre company that uses stories from individuals as the source material for its work, I am immersed daily in and around this genre. I also hold an  MA in Educational Theatre, with a focus on theatre that relates to narratives that parallel those in this project. I am grateful to all of the students and staff at Repertory Company High School and Education at Roundabout for inviting me to be a part of this journey of creation, reflection, and performance.

Related Categories:
Education @ Roundabout, Long Day's Journey Into Night, Teaching Artist Tuesday

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