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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Theatre and Dance

MAT Students Take Original Ethnodrama to NYU Conference

The students have been working with Dr. Peter Duffy since October on the original work about issues in the teaching profession.

Six students from the University of South Carolina Master of Arts in Teaching program traveled to New York University on the weekend of April 21, 2017, to present at NYU's annual forum on theatre education. The NYU Forum on Ethnodrama was billed as a gathering of theatre artists, academic researchers, and artist-researchers, all coming together to “share ideas, vocabularies, and techniques for engaging audiences with the aesthetic presentation of data and data-based playmaking.”  Ethnodrama is the practice of creating a work of performance derived from research on a specific subject, often conducted in the form of interviews, observations, statistics and other data. 

During the conference, the MAT students presented a play they had been working on since September, 2016, based on dozens of interviews conducted with teachers who have left the profession for reasons other than retirement. The MAT students and Dr. Peter Duffy, the program's head, conducted interviews, coded the transcripts, and shaped the data into a piece of theatre that confronts issues of testing cultures in schools, the impacts teachers make on young people and communities, the lack of teacher autonomy, the lack of respect for those within the teaching profession, and issues of gender, class and racial bias in education. Currently titled Uncommon Voices, the play is still in its development stage.

Participating students at NYU were Jordan Beck, Shirley Bell, Brian Chapman, Dakota Demato, Claire Laurent, and Sheldon Paschal.

In October, 2016, those students, along with fellow MAT students Madeleine Smith, Mary Joy Williams, and Andrea Wurzburger, traveled to New York City to work with the Irondale Ensemble Project, one of the nation's longest continually running ensemble-based companies.  At Irondale, the group explored their initial research, and worked to develop theatrical and embodied representations of the material.

The students have been invited to bring the piece to the American Alliance for Theatre Education conference in New Orleans in early August, 2017. They also plan on performing the play in the fall at the University of South Carolina and providing workshops for teachers. Dr. Duffy plans to conduct 100 interviews with current and former teachers across the US to learn more about their experiences, how their jobs have impacted their lives, and what we can learn about how we prepare future teachers.