Greenfield Fellows

Winter/Spring 2018

ActOut Saturday Winter Programming

Registrations begin December 8th. More information to come!

Greenfield Fellows

PTC’s Education Programming continues with our Greenfield Fellows’ projects.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation, Philadelphia Theatre Company is deep into Phase II of The Albert M. Greenfield Fellowship.  The three dynamic, creative and who comprise the second cohort of Albert M. Greenfield Teaching Artist Fellows are Olivia Harris, Michelle Pauls and Jarrett McCreary.  The focus of the fellowship is on specialized work within the community, with populations that are under-represented and projects that expand the boundaries of where and how teaching artists work.  This fellowship ends August 31, 2018.

Greenfield Fellows are paid a bi-weekly stipend and will receive sponsored professional development including, but not limited to national conferences and workshops.  The fellowship stipend is $21,000 per year.  See below for more information on their individual programs.

At this time, PTC’s Philly Reality is on hiatus, and our summer camps will return in the future.  Programming is temporarily on hiatus.

Questions?

For more information about the Education Program and the Greenfield Fellows, please contact:

Paige Price, Producing Artistic Director

Meet the Albert M. Greenfield Fellows:

Olivia Harris came to the Albert M. Greenfield Fellowship with a background in feminist organizing as well as an interest in using theatre to engage communities and teach life skills. For the past three years, she has run a college program that uses Applied Theater to teach healthy relationships and Title IX skills. Prior to that, she ran academic programming for an arts after-school at Harlem Children’s Zone and funded, managed, and taught international theatre for development programming with Bond Street Theatre. Her experience with Applied Theater techniques, evaluation measures, and her academic interest in the impact of theatre has defined her role at Philadelphia Theatre Company thus far.  Olivia’s first project was to develop new evaluation measures for Education residencies with Resident Teaching Artist, Raven Buck, that are aligned with National Common Core Standards.

Olivia is currently developing a professional development and curricular partnership with Women Against Abuse (WAA) that focuses on using theatrical tools to teach identity, relationships, and consent in schools and shelters.  A four hour professional development workshop was created to exchange open communication between educators at both organizations. WAA and PTC each offered 2 hours of professional development, and discussed how both organizations will be able to inform one another’s work in future. WAA used some of the creative work that they use to engage high school and middle school students, as well as a theoretical foundation for their work. Olivia offered some tools that she had learned and developed outside of Philadelphia Theatre Company, and other Teaching Artists shared their engagement and devising techniques. PTC TAs recognized a desire to learn more about trauma informed practice, and the WAA staff developed an interest in theatrical techniques to teach healthy relationships. Currently plans are being discussed for the next Professional Development workshop to determine specific areas of overlap for both organizations’ growth.

Olivia is developing a program for PTC’s Teen Council that addresses healthy relationships. She has scheduled four days of intensive workshops with Teen Council, titled Getting Intense with Olivia.  For the first two days, theatrical techniques will be used to explore what the Council knows about relationships and consent, where they learned it, and what they wish they had known. The students are invited to bring a friend to this portion of the workshop.  After the initial exploration, the workshops will transition into a curriculum-building strategy. The Teen Council will be invited to help develop tools to teach the skills that they have identified in engaging ways, using the theatre skills that they already have. This is both a personal development opportunity for our Teen Council and a content-generation opportunity for her own project. After Getting Intense with Olivia, she will take the remainder of the summer to develop a curriculum that can be offered next year in schools and community centers.

“I have found in my research and experience that a range of experiences and ages is useful in reaching students, because there are folks that they relate to and folks that they trust. I would like to have Teen Council and local college students help me facilitate the curriculum that we develop.” – Olivia

Jarrett McCreary came into the fellowship with almost five years of teaching artist work under his belt. He has spent most of his time with students, facilitating their introductions into theater and facilitating their own student written/run productions.  He also had been the Lead Teaching Artist for the Delaware Shakespeare Community tour, which involved workshops with incarcerated women and youth, psychiatric hospital residents, individuals at homeless and abuse shelters and more.  His plan is to use the fellowship to facilitate a relationship with groups of African Americans in hopes of using theater as a medium to dig into their past and find pride in their history and culture that has been forgotten.  He seeks to help minorities channel the oppression they face and to use that information to enact a wider change.  He hopes to create a different voice, using the skills of open communication, vulnerability and collaboration inherent in theater to focus and cultivate the celebratory stories that sometimes are forgotten to be acknowledged in Black people’s past and present.

Jarret is still in the exploratory and discovery stage of this project, since starting his project in April many months after the other fellows.  He has met with multiple sources and was able to sit in on a rehearsal of One More River to Cross, a play by Lynn Nottage based on 2,300 interviews of former slaves conducted by the Federal Writers Project between 1936 and 1938.   He interviewed the director of the production, James Jackson, about the significance of producing this play now in Philadelphia. He was also able interview a sci-fi novel writer about her own work as well as her connections with Amalgam Comic Shop and the owner, Ariell Johnson.  He also has plans to interview Malcolm Kenyatta, a young Philadelphia politician and community leader.

“These meetings, as well as stepping into the role of being the advisor of PTC’s Teen Council, have helped refine my creative goal, attempting to focus on certain spaces and communities that already exist, discerning what they get out of their community and how I could be beneficial in adding to that community.” – Jarrett

 

Michelle Pauls

When Michelle was offered this fellowship, she was excited by the opportunity of pushing the boundaries of theatre education. She believes that theatre should be a part of every human interaction. She is also very interested in how the intersection of theatre and hospice care can help support our ideas of quality of life, up to the very end of life, as well as promote a more death-positive outlook, while we are still very much in the pink of health.  During the past several months of this fellowship, she has continued to research death and dying and hospice care. She has identified at least two Hospice operations that have interest in working on such a program. She also has completed about 75% of the volunteer training program with Compassus Hospice in Philadelphia.

Statement from Michelle:

The main aspects of this project include three components:

  • Education: How can we inform and elucidate our population on hospice care? Everyone in America should know the value of hospice, as well as the tools to make a good death before reaching the point of loss. I like to believe that each of us has a life that should be celebrated, and we all have the right to decide how our quality of life should extend all the way to our death.
  • Theatre as Pain Management during the end of life journey: This includes activity to keep pain at bay (when people are distracted, they do not dwell on their anxiety as much) and activity to celebrate a life, incorporating the person’s values, family members, meaningful objects (we need to know that we are living for something bigger than ourselves), and others such as photos, songs, stories, gestures, prayers, etc. A large part of this aspect may also include using improvisational tools to celebrate, connect with and pay homage to the dying.
  • Bereavement: For the family left after the passing. This includes providing safe space to grieve and taking part in reminiscing.

Making this work in the real world

I was so fortunate to have the honor to provide and present some of these ideas and actions with a family I know. A friend of mine, Carol Graham and her mother, Ginny Graham (who was on hospice care) asked me to visit with them both, along with other family members, and employ some of the activities described above. I visited twice with Ginny during December. She spent several hours sharing stories, and describing family photographs. Carol and I also did a few improvisations, based on Ginny’s prompts. The entire time spent with her was loving, deeply personal, and extremely moving.  Carol shared, “The experience of my mom in hospice and doing improv with her and Michelle Pauls during her last weeks was poignant, heartbreaking and exhilarating all at the same time. It provided a life-altering memory that gives me closure and peace.”

Future directions

I plan to share these extraordinary experiences with Compassus and Samaritan Hospices, as well as any other hospice organizations I encounter, in order to help develop this outreach program further. I have vetted other actor/healers who have expressed interest in this program.  In addition, I am pursuing research in the field of Medical Humanities, which draws on using the arts to start important conversations regarding life and death. As far as my own artistic tools, I am also researching how to deepen and enrich my own socio-dramatic history with the skills of psychodrama.

“If all of us made an all-out effort to contemplate our own death, to deal with our anxieties surrounding the concept of our death and to help others familiarize themselves with these thoughts, perhaps there could be less destructiveness around us.”  

On Death & Dying, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Conclusion

The Albert M. Greenfield Fellows have discovered ways to expand their reach from the theatre, past the classroom, to hospice beds, women shelters, and to the African American community.  The Albert M. Greenfield Foundation’s support allows these theatre education professionals to research, develop, create, and teach.  The Greenfield Foundation’s support helps PTC create new partnerships and to expand the transformative power of theatre past its regular audience to the homes, rooms, and spaces of underserved communities.