CUNY SPS Alumna Earns Theatre Award

Sindy Castro

An alumna from the MA in Applied Theatre program at the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) has received accolades from the American Alliance for Theatre & Education (AATE). This July, Sindy Castro (MAAT ’19) is the recipient of the AATE 2020 Distinguished Thesis Award - Honorable Mention for her project thesis titled ¡BE PREBEARED! TEATRO EN EDUCACIÓN – THEATRE IN EDUCATION: A Multilingual Project for Early Learners.

“It comes as no surprise that Sindy’s work is being recognized by professionals in the field,” said Chris Vine, academic director of the MA in Applied Theatre (MAAT) program. “She is an extremely talented artist and scholar, with a passionate commitment to using her theatre skills in the cause of cultural inclusion and social justice. Sindy is able to work effectively with a wide range of populations of all ages but it is typical of her that, in the case of her final project thesis, she chose to focus on children in the often overlooked early learning classroom. In concert with her fellow-students and project partners, Maddie Calandrillo and Lynn Glener, she researched and crafted a compelling action-research drama residency to explore multilingual instruction. Her subsequent written thesis theorized, analyzed, and beautifully documented her innovative work. Like Sindy herself, the entire undertaking was serious fun!”       

Graduating students in the MAAT program are required to complete a project thesis, in which they envision, implement, and evaluate original applied theatre projects with a variety of participants and communities. The project thesis consists of 2 parts, an original practical project with a substantial accompanying written thesis. Castro, working with her advisor Professor Gale Jackson, developed her thesis to focus on multilingual theatre in education. This work was inspired by her belief in the importance of creating multilingual and multicultural spaces that embrace and include the home languages and cultures of learners. 

Castro, a Nicaraguan-born actress, educator, and theatre artist, worked as a teaching artist for seven years in Chicago before attending the MAAT program. Currently, she is a teaching artist with Arts Connection, New York City Children's Theater, and the People's Theatre Project in NYC, and is co-founder of Jugando N Play, a multilingual theatre for young audiences.

The American Alliance for Theatre & Education is a non-profit that serves and inspires a growing collective of theatre artists, educators, and scholars committed to transforming young people and communities through the theatre arts. Each year, the AATE hosts an annual ceremony to recognize the work of their members in the field. Open to members of AATE, the Distinguished Dissertation and Thesis awards honor research that focuses on questions pertinent to informal drama in education or to more formal theatre produced for, by, or with young people. 

This year, the AATE will host its annual award ceremony during its 2020 National Conference, which is being offered online from July 24 through August 2, 2020. On the opening day of the conference, Castro presented her work remotely, followed by a lively Q&A session. A number of other CUNY SPS MAAT students attended, including two who were inspired by Castro’s work to implement their own thesis project on second language learning with an adult immigrant population.

In addition to the AATE honor, Castro was also the recipient of a CAT-MA Apprenticeship Award for Diversity in Applied Theatre 2017-19. This award, which provides opportunities for minority students who may otherwise struggle to cover the cost of graduate education, provides recipients a stipend, a tuition award, and a placement with the CUNY Creative Arts Team (CAT), an internationally recognized theatre-in-education program that collaborates closely with MAAT. 

Launched in 2008, the MA in Applied Theatre degree program at CUNY SPS explores the ways theatre and drama may be used to help educate, build community, and inspire social change, and offers coursework, projects, and mentoring to help students bring the discipline to professions like education, criminal justice, health care, and community organizing. 

As part of the program’s celebration of their most recent graduates, the MA in Applied Theatre program is hosting three nights of project thesis presentations from the Class of 2020, beginning on August 13. RSVP to attend.

About the Master of Arts in Applied Theatre

The MA in Applied Theatre degree program, the first program of its kind in the United States, uses theatre as a medium for education, community development, and the pursuit of social justice. The goal of the program is to educate scholar practitioners to become future leaders in the field of applied theatre. Applied Theatre involves the use of theatre and drama in a wide variety of nontraditional contexts and venues, such as in teaching, the justice system, health care, the political arena, community development, museums, and social service agencies.

About the CUNY School of Professional Studies

For over 15 years, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) has been leading online education in New York. Offering the most online Bachelor’s and Master’s degree options at the City University of New York, CUNY SPS meets the needs of adults who are looking to finish a bachelor’s degree, progress from an associate’s degree, earn a master’s degree or certificate in a specialized field, and advance in the workplace or change careers.

The School’s growth has been remarkable, with twenty-three degrees launched since 2006. Enrollment has risen by more than 30% in the last four years to over 3,700 students in the credit-bearing programs and thousands more who are enrolled in non-degree and grant-funded workplace learning programs. In addition, the School has an active Alumni network and has established the CUNY SPS Foundation, which offers multiple scholarship opportunities to current students.

CUNY SPS has been ranked in the nation’s top 5% by U.S. News & World Report for the past six years, most recently in its list of the 2020 Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs, making CUNY SPS the highest nationally listed program in New York State and New York City.

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