Wednesday, July 23, 2014

That's a Wrap by Haila VanHentenryek

Well… it’s all over. It’s unbelievable to me to think that so much has happened in such a short time. It seems that I’ve been in London for years but also that I’ve only been here for a few seconds.

I’m not ‘gonna lie here. Having your blog day be the last day of the program is stressful. (Thanks Isaiah) I am feeling the pressure of summing up our experience and of making sense of it somehow. It seems like a good idea to start at the beginning of the day.

Thursday, July 17th began once again, in NYU Headquarters. We met Dr. Geoff and played a short game called “Do You Like Your Neighbors?” All I’ll say about it here is that I learned not to mess with Val…

Following the game, Dr. Readman gave us some feedback on our Curriculum plans:

      As theatre educators, you must be able to explain to outsiders (such as a suspicious administrator) why you are having children complete the activities in your lesson. This was something that was slightly lacking in our plans and Dr. Readman suggested that we get into the habit of including it. What do you gain and lose from each activity?

·         Dr. Readman also warned us about using drama to deliver the content of our lessons; “If the content becomes the aim, there is a danger that the drama will become simply a functional tool to deliver the content.”

·          Using teacher-in-role invites students into the world of the drama and gives children power over the creation of the work. This strategy specifically creates participants in the process rather than audience members and allows for vulnerability from both the teacher and the students.

In almost no time at all, it was time to end the session. Dr. Readman ended by encouraging us to become advocates for our art. He reminded us to “be clear in what you want and what you’re here for.”

But, just when we thought it was over, Dr. Taylor informed us that he and Dr. Readman would be singing “We’ll Meet Again” to us. It was, for me, both a hysterical and powerful moment.

Next on the agenda were four fabulous group presentations. Group 1 (Isabel, Greta, Christina, Isaiah, and Val) challenged us to “educate with a variety of methods beyond theory” as we explored their Global Arts Initiative discussion panel. They left me wondering about how process drama can be used to address major human rights issues. Regardless of the feedback received, I thought the group took on a challenging lens and demonstrated that when it comes to process drama, there isn’t simply one ‘right’ answer.

Group 2 (Alfe, Catherine, Kristen, Jess, and Yulissa) launched us into the drama right away by handing us cards with various nations written on them. It quickly became apparent that we were delegates in a panel discussion. Our panel members included Violet Beauregard, Uncle Ed-vard, Margaret Thatcher, and Lady Percy! Throughout this brilliant teacher-in-role work, we got to question the roles of women in the various theatrical productions we’ve attended over the past three weeks. What are women in charge of? What can they be in charge of?

Group 3 (Rachel, Andre, Michelle, and Sabrina) really challenged us to think about the questions that might still linger for us in terms of process drama. I was particularly moved by this group’s willingness to share their own personal experiences and their bravery in asking tough questions that might not necessarily have answers. The structure of their presentation, to me, symbolized that knowledge is gained through others and sometimes, through not knowing.

Group 4 (Sam, Christine, Crystal, and myself) was totally excited to have the opportunity to bring us all together as an ensemble for one last time. Even though our presentation had absolutely no dramatic activities in it, I really enjoyed watching the group work together and to really think about what keeps them inspired; body, mind, and soul. Thank you all for the impromptu reflection circle and the praise for our work. (Whoever wrote that “SEX!!!” nurtures your body, you are kind of my hero.)

Process drama is supposed to empower students and give them ownership over the material. Students are supposed to become co-creators rather than passive spectators. I think that as a group, we took ownership for our own reflection on the presentations and I was proud of us in that moment. In the end, we own the drama and I thought, in that moment, we embodied what we’d like our future students to become.

After presenting our Overlords…sorry Co- Program Assistants… with some Julius Caesar swag and hearing a final word from Dr. Taylor (“ART= Action, Reflection, Transformation” and “Follow your bliss. Don’t be stymied by the blocks. Figure out how to get through them.”), it was time to get our curriculum plans back and head over to the reception.

After a cup of wine (actually about four), I headed over to the Greatly Anticipated Pub Crawl of 2014. We visited three of London’s oldest and most famous pubs; The City of Dorke, Fuller’s Ale & Pie House (aka The Old Bank of England), and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. What can I say about this experience? We met a lot of new people; Cierra, Bourbon, Ms. Cleo Peppa, Esther, Josh, Amber, Margruitte, Bell, and Blanche. We drank. We ate pies that might have been made out of human flesh. We drank. We listened to a fabulous and lengthy history of London’s pubs. We drank. We embarrassed Isaiah on the bus home. We truly enjoyed some of the last moments we would share together in London. Oh, and we also drank. :) Sorry, I’m not sorry.