Interactive Festival Showcases Imaginative Educational Theatre Projects

Performance at CUNY SPS MAAT Theatre in Education Festival 2023

Students in the MA in Applied Theatre (MAAT) program at the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) presented a series of dramatic productions exploring social issues during the 2023 Theatre-in-Education (TIE) Festival.

Held on May 20 and 21 at the CUNY SPS Manhattan campus, this annual MAAT festival celebrates theatre-in-education (TIE), a theatre form with an explicit educational purpose, with projects led by performers who are traditionally called “actor-teachers.”

Each year, teams of students from the MAAT course Teaching Through Theatre: The Theory and Practice of TIE perform their original pieces, devised to both entertain and educate elementary, middle school, high school, and college/adult students, to a wider audience.

Chris Vine, academic director of the CUNY SPS MAAT program, reflected upon the 2023 TIE Festival’s high energy and success. “Over the two days, there were about 120 people that came through!” he noted. “There was enthusiasm about the work and outside interest for potential employment opportunities.”

Descriptions of the five productions performed by MAAT students during the 2023 TIE Festival are featured below.

Legacy Project: The Quest to Preserve What Defines Us

Devised and presented by Kari Berggren Olk, Susanna Stahlmann, and Claire Fleitz

In a not-so-distant future, the United States is taken over by a galactic force that seeks to bring order and rationale to humankind. Focused on survival, a group of young artists wrestle with the value of art and what we might preserve. Designed for high school students, this piece uses drama to ask the participants what art they believe should stand the test of time—and to what lengths they will go to preserve it.


A Play About Censorsh**

Devised and presented by Sabrina Alamo, Jeanna Philips, and Kristian Sorensen

Are gay penguins “appropriate” for a first-grade classroom? What, and who, gets to be a part of the history of the United States? This interactive theatre in education (TIE) project, specifically devised for high school students, investigates how censorship shows up in the American education system, and the effect it has on the emotional and intellectual lives of its students and educators. Where is it happening? Why is it happening? Who gets to draw the line and why? Where would you draw the line?

All the Stars in the SKAI

Devised and Presented by Eve Kummer-Landau, Amanda Trajano, Hanna Ventura

This participatory TIE piece, designed for 2nd grade elementary school students, explores the themes of feeling different, belonging, and establishing allyship amongst one another in the world. We are investigating how we learn to accept differences, stand up for others, and fight hate without spreading more hate. The projected goal is to encourage ownership of asset-based thinking and ownership of differences amongst the group. Students will have the opportunity to meet and engage with Skai, a character based on the book All the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea by Kai Cheng Thom. Skai is picked on because they are different. The children are asked to respond, and a range of drama conventions will be used to help explore how to deal with a bully.

What’s Love Got to Do With It? An Exploration of Nontraditional Love

Devised and presented by Amo Oritz, Hannah Stephens, Lilia Cohen, Roisin Goebelbecker, and Santos Collado

Designed for college students studying forbidden love and its multiple effects on society and on individuals, this interactive TIE piece examines what happens when personal values, societal norms, familial expectations, and human nature all collide, forcing one family to the brink of collapse. Single mom Tina finds love and fulfillment in a polyamorous relationship, but her parents fear that the way she loves will have lifelong consequences for her young son, Jesse. Members of Tina’s family will have to decide: which household is the one best suited to raise a child?

Bailando in a New Place

Devised and presented by Audrey Akins, Marlee Koenigsberg, Ana Rubio and Roberto E. Ventura

This participatory TIE project, devised for middle school students, investigates what it means to fit in and be left out. CC is a college student starting a new life in a new place with a multiplicity of challenges. Through different conventions, middle school students will have the opportunity to examine, question, and share their personal opinions around a variety of topics including fashion, language, disability, and cultural differences.


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

As New York's leading online school since 2006, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) offers the most online bachelor's and master's degree options at the City University of New York, and serves as the University's first undergraduate all-transfer college. With 26 degrees and numerous other non-degree and grant-funded workplace learning programs, CUNY SPS meets the needs of adults who wish 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. Consistently ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report for its online offerings, CUNY SPS has emerged as a nationwide leader in online education. The School's renowned and affordable online programs ensure that busy working adults may fulfill their educational goals on their own time and schedule.

Press Contact
Andrea Fagon
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer