Thursday, September 21, 2017

Ariel's Phase 1 Reflection

      I’ve had an amazing experience during Phase 1 of the Lincoln Center Education Fellowship. During Summer Forum I experienced the Leadership & Advocacy two week workshop and two Aesthetic Immersion courses. Kevin Carillo’s management and the openness of the Teaching Artists allowed us to not only help facilitate but also experience the classes we were there to assist in addition to the Aesthetic Immersion we were slated to participate in fully. I met so many wonderful educators from all over the country and from around the world! I also developed a great relationship with educators from my own alma mater. We were able to talk about concerns we had about the disjointed nature of our campus and how implementing a line of inquiry focus for each year could help forge a union between the many departments. After that week I now feel confident in creating lessons plans for acting students that implement aesthetic immersion principals. I’m excited to see Aesthetic Immersion at work in the classroom as I move forward in the next phase with my mentor. I am curious to see how she adapts to the needs of the classroom. What will the planning process be like with the school and instructors? What will the day to day be like in the classroom?

     There are a lot of similarities between the capacities for imaginative learning and the tenants of acting taught at UNCSA. The language is just a bit different. The basic set-up of each acting class is to work in the space on a scene or exercise either as a solo actor or with a partner or small group then observe as your fellow classmates cycle through and participate. After each round we were often called upon to chime in feedback (reflect/assess). Did the actors in the
space use the guidelines of the exercise or adhere to the given circumstances of the scene? Were they listening and responding authentically? These are all questions that are also asking us to (notice deeply). To be attentive and engaged while the other actors are in the space and apply what we’ve learned to the work we do next. Many of the other capacities are also involved in the process of creating a character. (Empathy) is a huge part of putting yourself into the shoes of the character you are called to play. It can be difficult when the character is perceived as a villain such as Arkadina in The Seagull. She is often described as the neglectful mother but I had to find what there was to love about her. I realized she cared very deeply for her son and wanted what was best for him even if it didn't always show. I came to that understanding through (identifying patterns) between her behavior throughout the play, what the other characters say about her and how she describes herself. I have to (make connections) between my life and hers in order to personalize the character. I don't know what its like to care for a child but I do have a younger sibling that I care deeply about and have cared for. I also (pose questions) to engage my imagination. What would it be like to have experienced her life and the difficult journey she had to becoming the woman she is at this point in her life? I use those connections I’ve made to (create meaning). I bring that new found emotional life into the rehearsal space. The rehearsal space is where I must also (make connections) between my training in class and apply it to the work of the play. I must begin to (embody) all of the questions, connections and empathy I’ve been cultivating at home. A huge part of the rehearsal process as an actor or director is (living with ambiguity). As an actor, I have to trust that all of that work I’ve done will find its way into the space. I have to let it go at the door and simply listen and respond to the other actors. I also have to trust the other creators in the room and specifically the director to guide my performance. I’m excited to continue exploring the capacities as I forge ahead in my acting process. It has
reminded me of the importance of building these skills, not only to improve my acting and teaching but to improve my daily life.

      As I continue to bring the capacities into my teaching I wonder how the Work of Art can be applied and utilized in relationship to building skills within acting. I explored the idea a bit in my Aesthetic Immersion lesson plan with a theater work of art but I wonder if it could be translated to works of art in other disciplines. Could a dance piece help an actor train? What about a painting? I’m excited to find out!

Eli's Phase 1 Reflection

     Reflecting on Phase I of the Kenan Fellowship at Lincoln Center Education, the first word that comes to mind is “Phew!” Four weeks of intense work through Summer Forum followed immediately by two weeks of Audition Bootcamp has all of the Kenan fellows feeling exhausted and ready for a brief hiatus before the start of Phase II in September. In the interest of reflection, it is also worth taking a moment to note the profound sense of accomplishment and pride that our six-member Kenan cohort feels around the quality, and quantity, of our efforts thus far at Lincoln Center Education.
    
    In many ways the University of North Carolina School of the Arts trained its six Kenan fellows to succeed at LCE. Being raised in an intense conservatory environment at UNCSA – regardless of our individual disciplines – we immediately discovered that not only were we able to handle the various stresses and demands of LCE’s Summer Forum, but also that we were equipped to do so with artistic minds and solutions. Particularly after participating in LCE’s Aesthetic Immersion workshop, it became clear that the critical thinking and inquiry-based skills UNCSA nurtures in its students are directly in line with LCE’s teaching practice. Seeing the effectiveness of Aesthetic Education also allowed me to reflect positively on many of my UNCSA professors and the artistic teaching practices used at the core of my education the past three years.

    Going through the Aesthetic Immersion course was also an incredibly inspiring experience for me. One of my goals at the onset of the fellowship was to gain more teaching experience and to learn more about the Lincoln Center model of teaching through the process. Participating in an Aesthetic Education workshop, I have not only witnessed its effectiveness firsthand, but also I have become emboldened to take the practice back to my own students. I got to prototype my own lesson plans, work with and learn from the many other arts educators in the room, and I got to observe the kind of artistic awakening that is possible when tapping into specific, creative areas of the brain.

    Aesthetic Immersion was just a small portion of my bigger Summer Forum experience. Because each of the Kenan fellows was asked to sit in and facilitate some of the other workshops going on simultaneously, each of us also got the incredible opportunity to meet world-class teaching artists and participate in stimulating professional development courses. The two courses in which I facilitated most over the four-week Summer Forum were a music-based workshop led by teaching artists from the New York Philharmonic and a discussion-based exploration around increasing access and the culture of attending arts events. In both cases I found a community of passionate educators, vulnerable and eager to make improvements to their own teaching philosophies in order to heighten their effectiveness in the classroom. The amount I learned from these workshops cannot be quantified.

    Following Summer Forum, the Kenan fellows facilitated with LCE’s Audition Bootcamp. Students between the ages of twelve to fourteen, from all five boroughs of New York City, travelled to Lincoln Center every morning for two weeks to participate in a discipline-specific intensive ahead of their arts high school auditions this Fall. I worked alongside other instrumental music teachers from across NYC to train a group of thirty middle school students how to better prepare for and succeed in their auditions. Seeing the powerful results of this two-week intensive would remind even the most jaded educator of the heart-warming value in their work. This was also one of my first experiences getting to teach a classroom full of students of varying ages and experience levels.

    As I embark of Phase II of the Kenan Fellowship, I have a couple new questions for myself about the remainder of the fellowship and the future in the arts thereafter. Having witnessed my effectiveness with the students in Bootcamp, I now wonder if I might have a future in the classroom. To this point I have been primarily a private instructor of cello, teaching one-on-one lessons for the greater part of the last ten years. And yet, following Phase I of the fellowship I now have a huge amount of confidence in my lesson planning and teaching abilities in the context of a larger classroom.

     The other big question in my mind is when this career shift might happen in the scope of my timeline within the arts. Immediately following the fellowship, I could seemingly begin the process of applying to teaching artist positions. However, if I have hopes to pursue a doctorate in the near future, perhaps a classroom position would have to wait until after completion of such a degree. Whenever it happens, however, I now feel excited to explore this potential career path and see where such a choice might guide my trajectory through a lifetime in the arts.

Nia's Phase 1 Reflection

     Having now had training at The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) and the Lincoln Center Education (LCE), I feel that I am well versed and equipped to handle teaching students of all ages, including adults. One of the main differences between my training at UNCSA and my Aesthetic Education training at LCE was that at UNCSA, I was taught through more of a narrow lens, where as at LCE, the teachings were much broader. My training at UNCSA was more formal in comparison to the more relaxed and casual training environment at LCE. During my time at UNCSA I received more of a small group or one-on-one experience as opposed to a communal and hands-on learning experience at LCE.

     After being able to participate and observe multiple workshops during Summer Forum, I feel as though I received the full LCE experience. Our aesthetic immersion workshop was a one-week program that was facilitated by Tenesh. During the workshop, we were taught by teaching artists who built their plans around the different art forms that we were going to experience throughout that week. We were able to apply what they had taught us by creating original lesson plans that we could use with children. Some of the concepts were slightly over my head because I was just getting to know what some of the LCE terms were, but overall, my experience in this workshop was a good, informative start to my LCE training.

    The other workshop that I felt was helpful and successfully introduced me into the LCE’s practice was the second series of Developing Your Practice (DP2). Barbara and Salla facilitated the DP2 workshop, and I felt that this workshop was quite intricate in that all of its participants were able to teach their own handcrafted lesson plans to their fellow participants. The organic and comfortable atmosphere reminded me of my training at UNCSA, specifically when we would have master classes. In master classes, musicians present their work and listeners are encouraged to give feedback and comment on the performers content. Each day of this two-week workshop, about five to seven participants would do a mock lesson plan while their fellow participants would act as the students. Usually one or two of the participants would sit back and just observe so that there could be extra feedback from another point of view. This workshop did a great job of providing a setting where participants could present their content and receive feedback that reflected LCE’s practice.

    After experiencing multiple workshops during Summer Forum, I realized that while much of the language the facilitators used was the same, they each had different approaches. Although the workshops had different facilitators and teaching artists, I often wondered if there was a particular hierarchy or “right” way to practice Aesthetic Education. Does the way the practice is taught depend on the specific teaching artist? Does the experience before knowledge technically allow a child to have more of an open and creative mind? With each workshop focusing on something different, I wondered if there was a common theme among all of them. I was able to sit in on a total of three, and the common theme was to make connections. All of the facilitators wanted the participants to think deeply about and make connections between each topic and their own experiences and feelings. Being a staff member of LCE, but also a participant, at times I caught myself wondering what training the teaching artists had to do to become so knowledgeable and comfortable with the material they were teaching. I have so many questions, but I am sure that as I continue to learn and grow at the Lincoln Center, they will all be answered.
   

Chessa's Phase 1 Reflection

        It​ ​is​ ​hard​ ​to​ ​believe​ ​the​ ​first​ ​phase​ ​of​ ​my​ ​Kenan​ ​Fellowship​ ​is​ ​already​ ​over,​ ​and​ ​yet,​ ​I’ve learned​ ​so​ ​much!​ ​I​ ​am​ ​excited​ ​to​ ​continue​ ​to​ ​incorporate​ ​the​ ​Capacities​ ​for​ ​Imaginative​ ​Learning into​ ​my​ ​work​ ​as​ ​an​ ​artist​ ​and​ ​teacher.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​already​ ​able​ ​to​ ​apply​ ​some​ ​of​ ​these​ ​concepts​ ​to​ ​my work​ ​directing​ ​BLACK​ ​MAGIC​ ​in​ ​North​ ​Carolina,​ ​particularly​ ​by​ ​emphasizing​ ​and​ ​prioritizing reflection​ ​time.​ ​I​ ​realize​ ​that​ ​I​ ​used​ ​many​ ​of​ ​the​ ​principles​ ​of​ ​Aesthetic​ ​Education​ ​​ ​in​ ​my​ ​training at​ ​UNCSA.​ ​We​ ​were​ ​always​ ​noticing​ ​deeply,​ ​posing​ ​questions,​ ​and​ ​creating​ ​meaning.​ ​We​ ​took action​ ​every​ ​day​ ​because​ ​the​ ​conservatory-style​ ​program​ ​is​ ​structured​ ​around​ ​students​ ​learning through​ ​doing.​ ​We,​ ​as​ ​actors,​ ​work​ ​on​ ​empathizing​ ​all​ ​the​ ​time,​ ​particularly​ ​by​ ​entering​ ​the world​ ​of​ ​the​ ​play​ ​and​ ​our​ ​characters--asking​ ​ourselves​ ​how​ ​we​ ​are​ ​like​ ​and​ ​not​ ​like​ ​these​ ​people, and​ ​how​ ​we​ ​can​ ​relate​ ​to​ ​them.​ ​All​ ​of​ ​the​ ​UNCSA​ ​drama​ ​classes​ ​ask​ ​you​ ​to​ ​embody​ ​the​ ​work, but​ ​especially​ ​our​ ​Text​ ​and​ ​Accents​ ​class.​ ​We​ ​used​ ​many​ ​different​ ​movement​ ​methods​ ​to embody​ ​text​ ​and​ ​sound,​ ​the​ ​most​ ​fun​ ​of​ ​all​ ​being​ ​through​ ​work​ ​with​ ​phonetic​ ​pillows.​ ​We​ ​were always​ ​making​ ​connections,​ ​as​ ​the​ ​faculty​ ​does​ ​a​ ​great​ ​job​ ​of​ ​creating​ ​a​ ​through-line​ ​for​ ​all​ ​the classes.​ ​Gerald​ ​Freedman​ ​believed​ ​every​ ​class​ ​was​ ​an​ ​acting​ ​class,​ ​and​ ​he​ ​is​ ​absolutely​ ​right!​ ​If there​ ​are​ ​two​ ​capacities​ ​I​ ​wish​ ​I​ ​had​ ​experienced​ ​more​ ​of​ ​at​ ​UNCSA,​ ​they​ ​would​ ​be​ ​“living​ ​with ambiguity”​ ​and​ ​“reflect/assess.”​ ​I​ ​often​ ​felt​ ​the​ ​overwhelming​ ​desire​ ​to​ ​“get​ ​it​ ​right”​ ​which​ ​I think​ ​kept​ ​me​ ​from​ ​reaching​ ​my​ ​full​ ​potential​ ​for​ ​a​ ​while.​ ​Living​ ​with​ ​not​ ​knowing​ ​the​ ​answers has​ ​led​ ​me​ ​to​ ​some​ ​of​ ​my​ ​best​ ​work.​ ​Reflection​ ​is​ ​the​ ​biggest​ ​take​ ​away​ ​I’ve​ ​received​ ​from learning​ ​about​ ​Aesthetic​ ​Education.​ ​You​ ​just​ ​can’t​ ​have​ ​too​ ​much​ ​of​ ​it!​ ​I​ ​wish​ ​I​ ​had​ ​spent​ ​more time​ ​reflecting​ ​on​ ​my​ ​work​ ​at​ ​UNCSA​ ​alongside​ ​the​ ​faculty.​ ​We​ ​did​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​self-reflection,​ ​but we​ ​didn’t​ ​often​ ​get​ ​feedback​ ​on​ ​that​ ​reflection,​ ​so​ ​it​ ​was​ ​hard​ ​to​ ​know​ ​if​ ​our​ ​perception​ ​was​ ​in line​ ​with​ ​the​ ​thoughts​ ​of​ ​the​ ​faculty.​ ​Despite​ ​those​ ​few​ ​differences,​ ​it​ ​is​ ​clear​ ​to​ ​me​ ​that​ ​UNCSA values​ ​the​ ​practice​ ​of​ ​Aesthetic​ ​Education​ ​because​ ​there​ ​is​ ​so​ ​much​ ​focus​ ​there​ ​on​ ​process​ ​over product.​ ​I​ ​can​ ​say​ ​with​ ​confidence​ ​that​ ​I​ ​used​ ​all​ ​the​ ​capacities​ ​during​ ​my​ ​time​ ​at​ ​UNCSA.

       Summer​ ​Forum​ ​and​ ​Boot​ ​Camp​ ​were​ ​both​ ​incredible​ ​experiences​ ​for​ ​me.​ ​I​ ​loved​ ​getting to​ ​take​ ​part​ ​in​ ​so​ ​many​ ​different​ ​workshops​ ​during​ ​Summer​ ​Forum.​ ​It​ ​really​ ​helped​ ​me​ ​grapple with​ ​the​ ​capacities​ ​and​ ​starting​ ​thinking​ ​about​ ​how​ ​I​ ​can​ ​incorporate​ ​them​ ​into​ ​my​ ​own​ ​teaching practice.​ ​I​ ​also​ ​got​ ​to​ ​learn​ ​a​ ​bit​ ​about​ ​my​ ​taste​ ​as​ ​a​ ​teacher​ ​by​ ​being​ ​a​ ​student​ ​under​ ​so​ ​many fantastic​ ​ones!​ ​I​ ​couldn’t​ ​keep​ ​from​ ​planning​ ​my​ ​own​ ​curriculums​ ​in​ ​my​ ​head.​ ​I​ ​loved​ ​getting​ ​to work​ ​on​ ​material​ ​related​ ​to​ ​a​ ​performance​ ​before​ ​and​ ​after​ ​viewing​ ​it.​ ​“Soundtrack​ ​‘69”​ ​was incredibly​ ​inspiring​ ​to​ ​me,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​can’t​ ​wait​ ​to​ ​see​ ​more​ ​from​ ​that​ ​group​ ​of​ ​artists.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​so grateful​ ​to​ ​get​ ​to​ ​direct​ ​BLACK​ ​MAGIC​ ​at​ ​the​ ​National​ ​Black​ ​Theatre​ ​Festival​ ​directly​ ​after taking​ ​AE​ ​Immersion,​ ​because​ ​it​ ​reminded​ ​me​ ​of​ ​the​ ​importance​ ​of​ ​the​ ​capacities​ ​not​ ​only​ ​in​ ​the classroom,​ ​but​ ​in​ ​the​ ​rehearsal​ ​room!​ ​Especially​ ​in​ ​a​ ​quick​ ​rehearsal​ ​process​ ​like​ ​ours,​ ​it​ ​can​ ​be easy​ ​to​ ​forget​ ​the​ ​importance​ ​of​ ​reflection,​ ​but​ ​it​ ​made​ ​a​ ​huge​ ​difference​ ​to​ ​let​ ​our​ ​cast​ ​take​ ​the time​ ​to​ ​digest​ ​and​ ​discuss​ ​with​ ​each​ ​other.​ ​In​ ​fact,​ ​I​ ​think​ ​it​ ​was​ ​the​ ​secret​ ​success​ ​to​ ​this particular​ ​incarnation​ ​of​ ​the​ ​show.​ ​Thank​ ​you​ ​Summer​ ​Forum! 

       I ​also​ ​had​ ​a​ ​wonderful​ ​time​ ​dancing​ ​with​ ​the​ ​Boot​ ​Campers!​ ​I​ ​rediscovered​ ​my​ ​own​ ​love for​ ​ballet,​ ​and​ ​improved​ ​my​ ​own​ ​technique​ ​a​ ​bit!​ ​It​ ​meant​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​to​ ​me​ ​to​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​help​ ​this program,​ ​because​ ​I​ ​am​ ​passionate​ ​about​ ​bringing​ ​high-quality​ ​training​ ​to​ ​students​ ​who​ ​cannot otherwise​ ​afford​ ​it.​ ​I​ ​saw​ ​so​ ​much​ ​growth​ ​in​ ​the​ ​students.​ ​I​ ​really​ ​appreciated​ ​how​ ​tough​ ​the
faculty​ ​was​ ​on​ ​them;​ ​it​ ​was​ ​refreshing​ ​to​ ​see​ ​a​ ​program​ ​for​ ​young​ ​people​ ​run​ ​like​ ​a​ ​program​ ​for PROFESSIONALS.


       Now​ ​that​ ​we’re​ ​heading​ ​into​ ​the​ ​next​ ​phase​ ​of​ ​the​ ​fellowship,​ ​lots​ ​of​ ​important​ ​questions are​ ​coming​ ​up​ ​for​ ​me.​ ​What​ ​will​ ​I​ ​propose​ ​for​ ​my​ ​final​ ​project?​ ​What​ ​shows​ ​should​ ​I​ ​plan​ ​to​ ​see with​ ​my​ ​mentor?​ ​What​ ​might​ ​my​ ​own​ ​curriculums​ ​as​ ​a​ ​teaching​ ​artist​ ​look​ ​like?​ ​How​ ​can​ ​I make​ ​the​ ​most​ ​out​ ​of​ ​my​ ​remaining​ ​time​ ​at​ ​Lincoln​ ​Center​ ​Education?​ ​That​ ​last​ ​question​ ​is​ ​most important​ ​to​ ​me.​ ​Now​ ​that​ ​we​ ​will​ ​be​ ​a​ ​little​ ​less​ ​busy,​ ​I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​make​ ​sure​ ​I​ ​get​ ​to​ ​know everyone​ ​who​ ​works​ ​here,​ ​and​ ​consider​ ​how​ ​I​ ​might​ ​personalize​ ​my​ ​experience​ ​here​ ​to​ ​soak​ ​up as​ ​much​ ​knowledge​ ​as​ ​I​ ​can.​ ​On​ ​to​ ​Phase​ ​2!


Chessa


Dylan's Phase 1 Reflection

     The first phase of the Kenan Fellowship at Lincoln Center Education has come
to a close with the successful completion of programs such as Summer Forum and
Audition Boot Camp. It has been an invigorating and insightful experience to be
behind the scenes of two of Lincoln Center Education’s most cherished initiatives.
Over the past month and a half I have been able to observe teaching artistry at the
highest caliber and been able to engage with participants and students from across
the world and city. This has led to many reflections about the place of aesthetic
education as it pertains to the trained artist, as well as how to achieve maximum
impact when engaging students with aesthetic education principles.  

      As a performing musician my education at UNCSA was mostly in line with
traditional conservatory training. Weekly lessons, coachings, rehearsals and studio
classes were all conducted with the goal of preparing students to consistently execute
music at the highest level. Hours were spent in practice rooms with repetitive
exercises designed to drill specific techniques so that they became second nature.
Decisions were constantly being made: what pieces should I prepare? Which
recordings should I model after? How should I phrase a particular passage? Over time
we learn that there are some choices which are more desirable than others based
upon performance practice, technical concerns, our teacher’s advice and our own
personal preference. From these processes we develop our own interpretation of a
work and commit to executing it in a similar style more or less for sake of accuracy
and consistency. As time goes on with working on a particular piece, our priority
becomes less about experimenting with various options and more about concerning
ourselves with the execution of decisions we have previously made.  

      By contrast, my understanding is that aesthetic education comes from a
different perspective. The goal with aesthetic education is not to train artists in a
specific art form, but rather to train people to think like artists. By accomplishing
this, people are then able to examine the world around them through a new inquiry
based lens that allows them to notice what there is to be noticed, to consider
alternative options in a new light, and to make meaningful connections and take
action. These are traits that can be found useful across all disciplines and all areas of
life.  

     In a sense, aesthetic education principles revert us back to a child like sense of
play and wonderment. For example, when conducting an aesthetic immersion
experience, often times we experience the work of art devoid of any contextual
information. We simply observe and draw meaning out of the work from our individual
and collective experiences. This is in stark contrast to the way a performing musician
would approach a work of music, as we would want as much information as possible in
order to construct an authentic interpretation as quickly as possible. Part of this
reflex is rooted in the fact that so much is at stake every time a performing artist
presents something in public. Reputations can sometimes be solidified or tarnished
just after one showing. Add this to the high volume of engagements that performing
artists usually take on and it becomes no surprise that many artists often find little or
no time to interact with aesthetic education principles on a daily basis. 
 
     After my experience with Summer Forum 2017, I would like to suggest that
professional artists from all disciplines take time to interact with aesthetic education
principles often. I personally found a refreshed sense of inspiration that I was able to
take back to my own artistry after engaging in a month of various labs and workshops.
By allowing yourself to step away from the specific technical concerns of a work of art 
you are able to take in the macro picture and gain new understanding and perspective
you wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise. I observed this not only in my own
music making, but in the experiences of hundreds of participants who came through
during Summer Forum, which helped make the entire experience so rewarding. 
 For me moving forward into the remainder of the fellowship, questions of
strategy and impact have risen to the surface. Specially, how can we as teaching
artists achieve maximum impact to as wide a demographic as possible? Certainly
outreach initiatives in public schools and community centers is a good start, but how
can we sustain and develop meaningful relationships over time and chart tangible
growth with students? 
 
     Another question which emerged for me is how can I incorporate elements of
aesthetic education in my own teaching on a daily basis? I found that as
transformative my time was during Summer Forum, when it came time for me to
teach a small group of students during Audition Boot Camp, my mind instinctively
jumped back to the methods I had developed during my conservatory training. My
time spent with the students was specifically tailored towards instilling habits and
skills which would serve them well as they prepared for performing arts high school
auditions in the fall. As a result, rather than allowing them the freedom to explore
and experiment freely, I was more direct in helping to solve specific musical and
technical problems that the students were having, which was effective in delivering
vast growth in just two weeks.  
 
      All in all, Phase I of the Kenan Fellowship has been a very rewarding experience
and the concepts I have been exposed to and the people I have met have been
extremely influential. I look forward to the remainder of the fellowship and to
interacting with my teaching artist mentor in the weeks to come. 

Dylan

Tony's Phase 1 Reflection

     Aesthetic Education sounded like a big undertaking on paper.  Full of philosophy and deep thought and many years of practice.  I imagined I would have a tougher time trying to find my way in.  Once I had my first taste of the pedagogy, in the Teaching Artist Fundamentals Workshop, I saw how flexible it is.  I had the teachers instructing these students on the Lincoln Center Model begging the question about how the language might shift, what was useful, what could be changed or specified or removed from the Capacities.  That was a huge connection for me, here at Lincoln Center, all the way back to my classrooms at UNCSA.  Acting can be such a subjective thing.  There are so many different methods and ideologies and tastes and ‘ways in,’ it seems impossible to even introduce them all in a single program.  Four years of training and I am still constantly coming into contact with actors who have very different training than I do.  Or kind of the same but with different words.  Or the exact same but in a different order.  Conservatory programs are really the result of a particular collection of teachings and methods that could be useful in all arenas.  But I am being persistently reminded that there is no one particular way.  Just as there is no particular interpretation of a work of art that it more or less valid than another.  Just as there is no way to deem things ‘right’ and ‘wrong.’  Living with Ambiguity was one of my big explorations during Summer Forum, and it is the Capacity I come back to with the most interest.

     Another echo of Lincoln Center back home in NC is the teaching to a work of art.  While it is not explicitly how the school is set up, there is a definite sense of ‘let’s discuss the elements and form, now let’s see if we can make our own.’  First, we learn the basics of acting technique: listening, imagination, script analysis, physical life, vocal freedom, ad infintum.  Then, as we start to experiment with those elements in classwork, we are seeing fully realized productions with upperclassmen where they are (in most cases) using the same tools to make the product; the work of art.  The main difference I see is that in school we didn’t have structured feedback or reflection time in the work we saw, but it was always present in my mind.  What worked, what didn’t, how might I do this or that?

     Summer Forum and Bootcamp reconnected me to my reasons for applying for the Fellowship.  One of my favorite things in life is when a new idea drops in and, eventually, I just GET IT.  The lightbulb.  The lightbulb isn’t always consciously dinging away, as if to say ‘OH, there it is.’  A lot of the time, it’s when I’m right in the middle of working and something will just shift, and then it’s that much simpler.  That much less effort I’m putting in to get where I’m going; whether that be learning a new a monologue, structuring a play, or simple math.  The shift in comprehension.  Both watching and participating in the Summer Forum Workshops, I saw lightbulbs all over the place.  It could’ve been the AE Curriculum itself, the eagerness of the students, or any number of things.  Regardless of the specific cause, there were a lot of ‘Ah-Ha’s’ happening around me and inside of me.  So, perhaps needless to say, that’s my favorite part of teaching.  I especially love guiding people through a hard struggle because I know there’s a small victory waiting on the other side.  A huge reminder I got from Summer Forum, and badly needed, was Process.  We are always in process.  And no matter how desperately I want to change instantly and miraculously, that’s not always what I’m being called to do.  Most times I’m being called to stand right in the middle of discomfort…and breathe it in…deeply.  The ‘discomfort’ that is a part of the creative source.  The empathetic source.  The place from which I make and remake the world around me.  That’s what I remind the actors and writers I am privileged enough to spend time with.  Standing in the discomfort, the scary-exciting-sad-joyous-process of being seen, is the journey. 

    Recently I’ve had lots of questions about what kind of art I want to make next.  If I’m living in a post-college world where I make all my own decisions about my time and how I spread myself, what is it that I really want to do?  I’m asking myself all day, every day, how I might have been kinder or more open or softened up and let the world in.  I have been asking, especially recently, what my role is as an activist and how I best serve the greater world in healing.  I find myself asking, ‘how could I have been more clear,’ and then replaying moments in my head.  I’ve been asking questions about the ‘capital U’ Universe.  About god.  To God.  What that might mean.  I keep finding myself caught in a loop of: What were you thinking?  When really, I see now that the question should be:  What were you overthinking?

    I’m big on questions and contemplation.    I’ve made strides towards getting out of my head.  And into my heart.

In heart,
Tony Jenkins

Friday, July 28, 2017

How exploring New York inspires Ariel

Today I visited the NYC Aids Memorial structure and square located in the West Village on 7 Av south between 12th and Greenwich Ave. I first took in the structure itself. The smaller triangles with off center vertical lines across made up seven larger triangles. Three of the grey triangles are touching the ground while the other four form a top. I began to associate the image with many things. With each line and negative space in between I reflected on the lives and loss of those effected by the epidemic. The triangular shape of the square the memorial sits on. The symbol used to ostracize gay men and woman during the holocaust. The deep history of this neighborhood and its commitment to preserving the history of the LGBTQ community is inspiring. The Stonewall Inn, Christopher St and the Pride flags all around are reminders of the importance of upholding inclusivity. The park is full of people sitting around the sculpture, on benches and in the grass. I’m inspired by the diversity of age, gender, race, dress, shape and sexuality represented by the crowd. Are they aware of the monument? A woman with orange flowers in her hair receives a private hula lesson from her instructor on the green. He demonstrates the sway of the hips and she follows finishing through to complete a twirl. What else brought the others to the square today? Some are in pairs or alone reading, listening to music, one man is taking on his phone. A young boy runs and hops along a pattern of curvy lights in the pavement. He reminds me to be inquisitive and appreciate each small detail that come together to form the beautiful park around me. This public space is small but mighty. It supports the local community and those passing through. The memorial sculpture is a constant reminder of the history of the area. It provokes thought amongst those who engage it with or without that context in mind. It is a reminder of the aspect of theatre I so deeply enjoy: a group of people engaging amongst one another who may have not been brought together otherwise.