MAAT Class of 2021 Virtual Yearbook

Applied Theatre
Graduating Class of 2021

Zeynep Akca CUNY SPS MAAT
Zeynep Akca
Aikaterini Alexaki CUNY SPS MAAT
Aikaterini Alexaki
Matthew Anton CUNY SPS MAAT
Matthew Anton
Amanda Fredrickson CUNY SPS MAAT
Amanda Fredrickson
Yonit Friedman CUNY SPS MAAT
Yonit Friedman
Meghan Grover CUNY SPS MAAT
Meghan Grover
Jenny Hipscher CUNY SPS MAAT
Jenny Hipscher
Alexis Jemal CUNY SPS MAAT
Alexis Jemal
Courtney McClellan CUNY SPS MAAT
Courtney McClellan
Brennan O’Rourke CUNY SPS MAAT
Brennan O’Rourke
Julia Schonberg CUNY SPS MAAT
Julia Schonberg
Victoria Tucci CUNY SPS MAAT
Victoria Tucci
Caitlin Wees CUNY SPS MAAT
Caitlin Wees
Emily Wetzel CUNY SPS MAAT
Emily Wetzel

We rise to celebrate you!

In the risk and moment of our distorted day
You are centerstage in a strange new play

Living history.

Amidst the upheavals of the COVID-19 crisis and the nationwide outrage at the ongoing vicious killings and blatant racist aggression, you have persevered. Living in these terrible circumstances, aware of the contradictions, and no doubt struggling with many conflicting impulses, you have nonetheless completed your journey through our demanding program of study. This is a remarkable achievement to be marked, noted, and celebrated. The more so because the varied work you all do—and will do—is so connected to the demands of the times in which we live. We need activism and art; we need creativity and community; we need education; we need vision, hope, and love. We need you.

You are the eyes that can see a brighter future
The imaginations that can build a richer world
The hands that can shape a greener earth
The hearts that can show a deeper love
And the tongues that will speak truth to power.

Thank you for coming to us, for trusting us, for staying. Thank you for rising to the challenges, and for contributing so much to our applied theatre community. You will always be a part of it.

We wish you courage, joy, and success on your continuing journey.

Heartfelt congratulations from us all!

The staff, faculty, and fellow students of the CUNY School of Professional Studies, M.A. in Applied Theatre.

 

Zeynep Akca CUNY SPS MAAT

Zeynep Akca

Where are you located in the world?

In Flatbush, Brooklyn

What is a moment that you’ll never forget while you were in the program?

Sitting on a rooftop in Brooklyn, mid-pandemic, with my thesis group Jenny and Courtney. As the sun set, we had a moment of looking at each other with looks that seemed to say "are we doing this thing?"

What did you explore in your thesis?

I explored facilitating as an insider and an outsider through our project within an interfaith community.

What’s next for you?

Immediately, I will be directing a few things as theatre returns this summer while I apply for some teaching and education programming jobs. Later, I’m hoping to do a PhD in Performance Studies, exploring performance and ritual in Asia Minor and Mesopotamia.


Aikaterini Alexaki CUNY SPS MAAT

Aikaterini Alexaki

Where are you located in the world?

Queens, NY, and Athens, Greece

What brought you to the Applied Theatre Program? 

I believe in and wanted to explore further the transformative and rehabilitative power of theatre in the personal lives of people and in the collective psyches of communities.  

What is a moment that you’ll never forget while you were in the program?

I believe there were many. Helen’s class on Theater Building and our amazing performances made from scratch, Chris’ forum theater and the responsibility I felt when I suggested a different reaction for the main character in Brennan’s piece, The Bras piece we made with Judy Boals and Alexis Jemal. It will take a day and more to count them.  

What did you explore in your thesis?

During the coronavirus outbreak I had to move from NY to Greece so my thesis project developed without a team.  My intention was to work with educators in primary education and explore the ways theatre can inform the learning process and develop a more experiential approach. My thesis paper is still in progress.

What’s next for you?

Continuing the work we developed with my collaborator Marilena Triantafyllidou in Artika Theatre Company where we work on theatre performances for early ages 0-6 years old. Artika School is another area of our group where we explore the power of theatre as a language that promotes education and healthy communities. Finally, I would love to continue working as a theatre educator with children and adults believing that theatre is the only complex art form that promotes democratic dialogue in society and is a profound path for recognizing thyself.


Matthew Anton CUNY SPS MAAT

Matthew Anton

Where are you located in the world?

I'm New York City born and bred but consider myself a global citizen.

What is a moment that you’ll never forget while you were in the program?

I was part of a team that created an immersive process drama for teenage members of the CAT Youth Theatre that involved them choosing whether they wanted to become the first colonists on a newly discovered planet. It was an opportunity for them to create a whole new society as they saw fit. We had originally told them that there were no other complex life forms on this "New Earth," but then we suddenly "discovered" that actually, maybe that wasn't the case after all, and maybe there was some type of life form that we were not familiar with yet. One of the teenage participants, aware of the negative consequences of colonization on indigenous peoples here at home, yelled out, "We're not going to Christopher Columbus this bitch!"

What did you explore in your thesis?

My thesis project partner and I conducted 30 sessions, both in-person and remotely, with pre-K students to explore ideas around agency and empowerment and whether children as young as four years old could begin becoming stronger self-advocates for their own growth and development.

What’s next for you?

I'm currently working towards a teaching certification from City College and am planning to work in the New York City public school system. I will strive to put this quote by Daisaku Ikeda into practice: "A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind."


Amanda Fredrickson CUNY SPS MAAT

Amanda Fredrickson

Where are you located in the world?

New York, NY

What is a moment that you’ll never forget while you were in the program?

Too many! I'll always remember early COVID dance parties on Zoom, intrapersonally teaching our cohort how to make a PB&J, but most of all, I'll never forget the ways my cohort has both challenged and held space for me through these last three years. I'm truly grateful for all who have been part of my learning journey. (Why do these answers always sound cheesier than what I actually mean?).

What did you explore in your thesis?

I worked with a caucus of a teacher’s union and looked at how narratives play into our visions of change in educational organizing.

What’s next for you?

I'll be continuing work on the Defrost Project with Amelia Hefferon, Meghan Grover, and Sarah Meister. We're heading back to Milan, MN, this summer with a grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council for a place-based project in August! I'm also looking forward to starting a drama program at the middle school where I teach next year and potentially implementing some more process drama and role work in organizing spaces with my thesis group.


Yonit Friedman CUNY SPS MAAT

Yonit Friedman

Where are you located in the world?

Brooklyn, NY

What is a moment that you’ll never forget while you were in the program?

Accidentally calling Meghan and Matthew fascists during one of Chris Vine's process dramas (we talked after, we're cool, promise!) and pretending to be flies in Co-Intentional Director - what a wild grad school experience!

What did you explore in your thesis?

We worked with a leftist educator’s caucus within a teachers' union, exploring how applied theatre can support relationship building, which can, in turn, support the work of activism. I came to this program to figure out how to bring creative tools to the world of activism and organizing, so this was exciting and rewarding!

What’s next for you?

Right now, I work in digital communications for a climate nonprofit, which lets me think about narrative in a different way. I've also been thinking about starting to facilitate workshops for activists and other change-makers to use applied theatre tools to work on storytelling skills. And, of course, I'm ready to reconnect with friends and family after fifteen months of social distancing!


Meghan Grover CUNY SPS MAAT

Meghan Grover

Where are you located in the world?

Brooklyn, NY. I’m also doing applied theater work in my hometown Chagrin Falls, OH, and in Minnesota (where I went to college).

What is a moment that you’ll never forget while you were in the program?

Oogly Boogly.

What did you explore in your thesis?

Critical consciousness raising and white supremacy in suburban conventional theatre training programs.

What’s next for you?

Living in Brooklyn with my cats, adventure partner Joe, and future dog. Using the arts to co-create spaces where people can thrive with freedom and humanity. Prepping for my B’Mitzvah with Lab/Shul. Acting, reflecting, repeating.


Jenny Hipscher CUNY SPS MAAT

Jenny Hipscher

Where are you located in the world?

Flatbush, Brooklyn, NY, unceded Lenape land

What is a moment that you’ll never forget while you were in the program?

I'll never forget when my first semester cohort mates transformed the conference room into an interactive museum for their presentation on Popular Education and the Freedom School Movement. There was a giant stretch of brown paper covering the length of the floor that represented a tree. The presentation had engaged so many different senses and by the end of the presentation, some of us were rolling around on the floor, crinkling and crunching across the brown paper tree.

What did you explore in your thesis?

My thesis explored the use of applied theatre to facilitate critical dialogue about identity and privilege in interfaith community. Through the process of implementing and writing, I reflected on applied theatre's potential to hold and navigate the complex dynamics of intersectionality.

What’s next for you?

This summer, I'm reuniting with my fellow rascal collaborators at Agile Rascal Bicycle Touring Theatre to ride our bikes up to an off-the-grid residency in Vermont to camp out for a month and devise our next play (to be toured summer 2022). After that, I plan to return to Brooklyn to take some time to rest, reevaluate, and rebuild after an intensive two years! I'm excited to continue working as a massage therapist at Third Root Community Health Center, reconnect to community, and to take some time to integrate and envision what's next.


Alexis Jemal CUNY SPS MAAT

Alexis Jemal

Where are you located in the world?

New Jersey

What is a moment that you’ll never forget while you were in the program?

Any time I had the opportunity to devise and work with my classmates.

What did you explore in your thesis?

Theatre in Critical Social Work Education as a tool to explore each prong of the Critical Transformative Potential Development Model.

What’s next for you?

Advancing the integration of social work practice and applied theatre and furthering applied theatre in social work education, continuing education, and professional development.


Courtney McClellan CUNY SPS MAAT

Courtney McClellan

Where are you located in the world?

Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

What is a moment that you’ll never forget while you were in the program?

While implementing a process drama with Tabatha Lopez and Brennan O'Rourke, a Black male-identifying Youth Theatre Member, who while in role said the collective decision being made impacted him and his survival differently. Afterward, in reflection with the group, another Black male youth theatre member said he learned a lot and wished school was more like the programs that the Youth Theatre receives. I'll never forget that moment, because I learned more from them in those two hours than I could possibly have imagined.

What did you explore in your thesis?

What is the role of Applied Theatre in building the empathy necessary for collective, multi-cultural, anti-racist leadership?

What’s next for you?

I will continue learning and adding to the field through my collaboration with the Creative Arts Team and other partners and organizations in the work, namely in the fields of Education and DE&I.


Brennan O’Rourke CUNY SPS MAAT

Brennan O’Rourke

Where are you located in the world?

Queens, NY

What is a moment that you’ll never forget while you were in the program?

Davey or Marge Merge. They both happened during the same process drama in IDC with Chris. We had some good laughs and learned how to take responsibility for small mistakes as facilitators! We still talk about both of these moments often!

What did you explore in your thesis?

I put the gaze on myself as a facilitator. I was curious to understand the circumstances under which I showed up most fully as myself - a white Trans person. I explored song and community, mental health, and what a humanizing process for facilitators might be.

What’s next for you?

Continue working at my two jobs for the moment. Potentially a podcast for Trans and Queer applied theatre practitioners. Dreaming up a new play and a bed and breakfast with fellowships for Trans artists. More to come of collaborations with several folks who I'm graduating with. Many dreams, possibilities, and imaginations on the horizon. Now trying to figure out how to make them realities.


Julia Schonberg CUNY SPS MAAT

Julia Schonberg

Where are you located in the world?

Tarrytown, NY

What is a moment that you’ll never forget while you were in the program?

There are so many! What's sticking with me are many "firsts." The first time I experienced a process drama, the first time I heard the name "Paolo Freire," discussed the meaning of "co-intentionality," and the first time I met many of my cohort members. I'll also never forget the "last" time I was in the physical MAAT space on 31st street, at a meeting when we were discussing a move to remote learning at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Little did we know how much the world would change after that day. Oh, and of course, the "Davey" moment.

What did you explore in your thesis?

My thesis partners and I facilitated a ten-session project with a group of high school juniors in which we explored critically engaged devising. My individual research topic explored the impact of applied theatre on critical consciousness development in young people, specifically within a suburban, conventional theatre training program.

What’s next for you?

This summer, I'm finishing up a verbatim theatre project that I've been working on for the past four years and I'm looking forward to hanging out in my veggie garden and lots of bike rides. Not sure yet what else is on the horizon but looking forward to finding out!


Victoria Tucci CUNY SPS MAAT

Victoria Tucci

Where are you located in the world?

I'm in Astoria, Queens

What is a moment that you’ll never forget while you were in the program?

Anytime our cohort got the giggles, which always seemed to be in one of Chris's classes, holds a special place in my heart. Thank you Chris for rolling with us when we broke down in laughter - oogally boogally ❤

What did you explore in your thesis?

Our thesis project explored how relationships-building, in organizing spaces, might support an organization, activate, and sustain its members. My thesis explored how Applied Theatre might support members of a sub-group in a union interrogate their attitudes and perceptions of themselves as agents of change. And how their self-reflections might impact their level of engagement within the union.

What’s next for you?

In the immediate future, I'm dipping my toes back into the tech space and will be working on a Trust and Safety team at Etsy for the next six months. In terms of Applied Theatre, I hope to work with Queer Folks and allies in religious spaces.


Caitlin Wees CUNY SPS MAAT

Caitlin Wees

Where are you located in the world?

New York

What is a moment that you’ll never forget while you were in the program?

I am keeping so many hilarious, powerful, wonderful memories from this program. Chris as a gentle giant, the Davey moment, "oogly boogly." Creating an entire thesis project with my wonderful team without ever getting to physically share space with each other. Implementing our first process dramas with the youth theatre. Even if our cohort wasn't able to be together for our final year, showing one another solidarity and support throughout. More than anything I will never forget my brilliant cohort and all they taught me!

What did you explore in your thesis?

Our thesis project worked with educator/organizers in a small social justice caucus of the teacher’s union. We used role-play and personal narratives to build relationships, and explore what keeps people showing up to organize for better working conditions. I personally also took a critical eye to how my identity - specifically my whiteness - influences the ways in which I show up and how it impacts my facilitation.

What’s next for you?

At this point - who knows?! For now, I will continue working my restaurant job while seeking out applied theatre and/or educational opportunities. I will also be continuing to organize my workplace to advocate for better working and pay conditions in the restaurant industry. I'm also looking forward to continuing to create dramas and theatre-in-education pieces with collaborators from my cohort!


Emily Wetzel CUNY SPS MAAT

Emily Wetzel

Where are you located in the world?

Carlisle, PA

What is a moment that you’ll never forget while you were in the program?

I'll never forget the grace and kindness with which our Theories II class held and supported each other during the first few months of the pandemic in Spring 2020. There was deep love in that space each week.

What did you explore in your thesis?

My thesis examined how applied theatre methods and techniques might be utilized in a virtual high school classroom. I discussed the challenges and assets of devising original theatre and teaching a high school course on a virtual learning platform and the effects of working remotely.

What’s next for you?

I'm currently working in the Access and Disability Services office at Dickinson College! I'm excited to get involved in the small-town life of Central Pennsylvania and connect with the community theatres, advocacy work, and political organizations that are already active and alive here. Beyond that, I'm hoping to continue my studies into doctorate work at some point in the future.


See the MAAT Class of 2020 Virtual Yearbook

Master of Arts in Applied Theatre

Follow Us

Follow our Facebook page!Follow our Tumblr page!