Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Theatre in Our Schools Conference by Elizabeth Simmons

Theatre in Our Schools Conference
 Elizabeth Simmons

Volunteering….voluntarily getting up at 6:00 am…so worth it. The Theatre in Our Schools Conference was put on by the American Alliance for Theatre in Education, and I got to be a part of it.  It was on March 4, at the Roundabout Theatre’s space, and as a grad student in Educational Theatre, I really wanted to jump in and meet some more people in the field outside of school. By the way, checking in people and handing them their nametags really helps with that. I noticed lots of representatives from organizations that I knew..Creative Arts Team, Lincoln Center, Story Pirates, our own Sobha Kavanakudiyil from CCNY!

The day was filled with a panel, workshops, and a keynote address. In the morning, the panel (moderated by Sobha!) offered some practical advice on teaching students with varying skill levels and interests. A particular quote that I took away from one of the speakers, Kalitchi Figueroa, talking about teaching an ESL class, is that ..”it’s not about language, it’s about communication…” I will definitely keep that in mind as I head into my residency at PS 161.

I also attended Jean E. Taylor’s morning workshop about the Lincoln Center Institute techniques. We “noticed deeply” and performed using our bodies and voices, based on a photograph and a poem. We then got to see a segment of a two person show, which also incorporated the photograph and poem. ..”I met a man named Langston Hughes..” I noticed that the participants were just as excited to share their creativity onstage as they were to make observations about what they were experiencing.

Lisa Mitchell, alumni of CCNY Ed Theatre, was the Co-Chair of the TIOS Conference Planning Committee, with Nicole L. Lorenzetti. They were very welcoming and organized an event that looking around, seemed to be a positive one for all the participants. As a current student, it was exciting to see one of the alumni in a leadership position, and also to see some of my fellow students attending the conference. Go CCNY!

Towards the end of the day, I was running some errands as a volunteer, and then listening to the keynote address by the Story Pirates. They built upon what I’ve learned from lessons on Storytelling in both Integrating the Arts and Drama in Education. Interactive, Silly, Characters, Plot, Energy were all words that came to mind watching the Story Pirates demonstrate a session.

As a grad student, a volunteer, and an attendee, I felt the conference was a great opportunity. I got to network with representatives from several organizations, and get a better understanding of different careers in Arts Education. The people I spoke with were very receptive, and interested in the CCNY graduate program and the acting work I’ve been doing. And, P.S, the sandwiches from Potbelly were delicious

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