Monthly Archives: January 2011

Fun Theater Exercises!

Students in Patricia’s Musical Theater class at I.S. 171 demonstrate a few of their favorite class activities through photos and descriptions!  


Mirror Exercise:  Students face their partner and have to mirror each other’s movements. This exercise helps to build focus, concentration as well as encourages a connection to their partner which is helpful for scene study.


Out Loud Exercise: In musicals, characters break out into song because they are experiencing an extreme circumstance or feeling an extreme emotion.  Student ‘directors’ were asked to think of an extreme emotion or circumstance either from real life or their imagination.  Using the remaining pool of actors, they were asked to sculpt them into a picture of this ‘out loud’ moment in life. The class then took turns guessing what the picture was describing.


Stage Game:  Students learn the stage directions through a fun game. They are directed to cross to different parts of the stage (blocking).  While taking their direction, they must also respond to random cues that they are given, such as “enact a tragic death scene.”



Character Analysis:  Students were asked to choose a character from a suggested list from plays, movies and books. Then they wrote an in-depth character analysis, to help put the character into actable terms. They were to act as though they were cast in the role of this character, and to carry out the basic ‘homework’ that all actors must do when approaching a role. From there, the actors portrayed their characters through ‘picture day.’ They walked from point A to point B, sat for their picture, and improvisationally interacted with the photographer (the teacher) while maintaining their character.

Cold reading: As part of the audition technique unit, students were asked to perform a monologue from scripted material, with only 5 minutes to prepare. They learned to make quick acting choices and to present themselves in a professional manner.

photo credits Patricia Runcie


How Would You Spend $100 Million To Save Education?

How to Spend $100 Million to Really Save Education.

This article was published in Fast Company Magazine by: Anya Kamenetz, January 12, 2011. It raises educational issues in public schools and brings out ideas on the way they can be fixed. 

The elite has become obsessed with fixing public schools. Whether it’s Ivy League graduates flocking to Teach for America or new-money foundations such as Gates, Broad, and Walton bestowing billions on the cause, “for the under-40 set, education reform is what feeding kids in Africa was in 1980,” Newark, New Jersey, education reformer Derrell Bradford told the Associated Press last fall.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is the latest entrepreneur to join this rush. He announced in late September that he planned to donate $100 million to the city of Newark to overhaul its school system. Zuckerberg, a billionaire by age 23, has little experience in philanthropy and no connection to Newark; he met the city’s mayor, Cory Booker, at a conference and was impressed with Booker’s ideas for school reform. Plans are still sketchy, but Zuckerberg has endorsed merit pay for teachers, closing failing schools, and opening more charters.

So will this princely sum produce a happy ending?

Read more here:

Russell Granet – On Quality Arts Education and “bringing the word ‘love’ back to teaching and learning.”

An interesting article published by Russel Granet a member of Arts to Grow’s Educational Advisory Council . 

 Mr. Granet is a founder of  Arts Education Resource (AER) 

Arts education advocate and consultant Russell Granet spoke to members of the New Vic Council about arts education and New York’s schools. 

Russell Granet: There are approximately 1,500 NYC public schools, 1.1 million students, and roughly 80,000 teachers in the system. In 2002 we had approximately 1,200 music teachers, 1,100 visual arts teachers, and less than a 100 certified dance and theatre teachers. This is a problem.

The state mandates that twenty percent of lower elementary school needs to be spent in arts education. Twenty percent, if you do the math, is one full day a week. In New York City there was not one school compliant with the state’s mandate. One of the reasons I wanted to share those staggering numbers is to drive home the importance of cultural institutions in NYC – and in particular, highlight the work of the New Vic. Cultural institutions are filling the gap where, in fact, certified teachers are supposed to be. 

Read more here:

Article from Americans for the Arts – “The Arts are Part of the Economic Recovery Solution”

The following is an article from our friends at Americans for the Arts about the importance of the arts advocacy during tough economic times.

Statement by Americans for the Arts on the 2010 Election

 The Arts Are Part of the Economic Recovery Solution

WASHINGTON, DC — November 3, 2010 — Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch gave the following statement on the Election Day results:

 “Frustration with the nation’s lack of economic recovery is clearly top of mind among voters and candidates.  Likewise, nonprofit arts organizations have also felt the sting of the recession with state and local government arts funding dropping as much as 16 percent, and private charitable gifts to the arts declining $1.2 billion in just two years.  Additionally, individual artists have been experiencing unemployment at twice the rate of other educated, professional workers.”

Read more here.

Jordan Grubb’s 6th Annual Winter Formal

Jordan Grubb’s Annual Winter Formal was made with a twist to benefit Arts to Grow from collected donations. It was a tremendous success with many artists from the theatre community in attendance.  Cast members from Broadway shows such as Billy Elliot, Wicked, West Side Story, Rock of Ages, Chicago, and more were on hand to contribute toward a great cause.  Through everyone’s generosity, Jordan was able to collect $1,143 in donations.  Every year, this event grows larger, and Jordan is looking forward to partnering with Arts to Grow into the future. The Arts to Grow Community sends a big note of thanks to Jordan and his Guests. Attached are some pictures from the night’s festivities.

Photos courtesy of Jordan Grubb.


On the right:  Jeffrey Saver (Orchestra Chicago)


>From the right:  Aaron Albano (Wicked) & Ryan Worsing (Chicago)

Man in tux:  Jace Coronado & Man on right:  Sam Rogers (both from West Side Story)

From Left:  Derek St. Pierre (Franz in Rock of Ages) & Jordan Grubb 


Sean Ewing and Sam Rogers (West Side Story)

Post from Americans for the Arts – “Creative Placemaking” Resource Available

The following is a report from our friends at Americans for the Arts regarding the latest in the use of arts education to build many aspects of character.

“Creative Placemaking” Resource Available

The Mayors’ Institute on City Design releases “Creative Placemaking”
Report focuses on how communities are using the arts and other creative assets to help shape their physical, social, and economic character

Creative Placemaking is a resource for mayors, arts organizations, the philanthropic sector, and others interested in understanding strategies for leveraging the arts to help shape and revitalize the physical, social, and economic character of neighborhoods, cities, and towns.

Read more here. (Article is near the bottom of the page)

Musical Theater Ensemble Performs at I.S. 171

On December 21st, the cast of  the musical theater class at I.S. 171 presented a winter showcase to family and friends alongside other after-school programs such as the band and two dance groups.  The 5th through 8th graders of Patricia Runcie’s musical theater ensemble performed selections from three Broadway hits, featuring a popular song from each show.

Students learned not only key musical numbers, but developed their characters as well.  The class taught acting techniques and key elements of musical theater with a strong focus on ensemble-building. Students were able to gain experience in a variety of musical genres, and were able to make an informed decision about the play that they will most enjoy performing for the full-length spring production. This year, Patricia and her students will be performing an original script called The Optimistic Orphan for the spring musical.