Professor Joe Salvatore Discusses Educational Theatre at NYU Steinhardt


[Intro Music] Professor Salvatore: I teach a number of different courses, uh, in acting and directing Shakespeare play development. I like for my classes to have a purpose in
the professional world, uh, out in the field, whether that be in the artistic world or in the education world,
and, and, I try to sort of find the place where those two things come together, and I think that that’s
part of what students respond to. I ask students to articulate their own individual
goals and questions that they have at the top of the semester so that they’re exploring
what I’ve laid out as the goals for the course, but they’re also thinking about how the course
is influencing their own practice after they finish it. Today, the class that I’m teaching is called Theatre
Practices: Problems in Play Production, the Development of New Plays, and this course
runs in concert with, or alongside of, our New Plays for Young Audiences series. It’s a development lab, where 3 playwrights
are invited, each for a week, to come with a play that’s in development, and they work
with a director and a dramaturge, and a cast of actors largely often from our program,
or from the university community, and they work for a week to develop a script idea. In my class tonight, we will have Cecily O’Neill,
who is that resident dramaturg for the series, she’ll come in for the first part of the class,
and we talk about plays as they develop, we get new pages every night as the playwright,
sort of, does revisions during the day, and then the other part of the class, uh, we’ll be looking
at plays that the students have written. I asked the students to each take a stab at
writing their own 10-minute play based on a prompt that I gave them. The purpose of the exercise is not to create
this amazing play, it’s to develop empathy for what a, what a playwright might be experiencing
as he or she is moving through a development process, it’s difficult. I wanted my students to have that experience
for when they leave the course and potentially do their own work with a playwright on a
new play, or, or when they try to write a play. I try to work on projects both at NYU and
outside of NYU in the field and bring students along into those projects. This past year, I directed 6 short plays that
I had written, and, uh, I brought 6 student directors on board, and then we together cast 14 student
actors, and we worked for 4 weeks intensively in January and February to develop these 6
plays and mount them, and it was a great experience. I also just recently finished a project that
was a commission to create a site-specific performance on a Revolutionary War battlefield,
and actually had 3 former students who worked as research assistants for me, and ultimately
ended up signing on as consultants on the project, uh, and then I cast it with a group of
actors that included recent alums of the program and also current students who had been in
my class, who I saw and thought these students can do these roles, and they were great. The program, I think, is committed to thinking
about how artists can be educators and how educators can be artists, and sort of what
that duality means, um, in the professional world. Artists need to be skilled in multiple ways
in order to make a living in the United States, and so I think the program does a great job
of preparing people to do that. [Music Continues]

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