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Sindy Castro and Morgan Booker
MA in Applied Theater
Interview and photos by Michael Wilson, Fall 2017.
Sindy Castro and Morgan Booker ('19) are the apprenticeship recipients in the fall 2017 cohort of the MA in Applied Theatre. Sindy grew up and went to college in Florida and worked as a teaching artist for seven years in Chicago. Morgan is an Oaklander educated in LA and a teaching artist with years of experience devising with youth. Sindy apprentices with the Literacy through Drama Program and Morgan apprentices with the CASA (Cultural After-School Adventures) programs. We caught up this past November.
The Graduate Apprenticeship for Diversity in Applied Theatre provides recipients a stipend, a tuition award, and a placement with the CUNY Creative Arts Team.
You both loved your teaching work in Chicago and Oakland. Why did you come to New York to study?
SINDY: I’ve taught for other programs and helped to oversee other programs, but I wanted to figure out what it is I’m interested in doing and how to do it. I’ve been exposed to things like forum theater and Boalian concepts, and I’ve been exposed to devising, but I don’t have a lot of foundation for how to do it—to be able to create my own programming.
MORGAN: And I left Oakland because I wanted to learn how to do what I do, because I feel like I was making it up. I didn’t even know this was a thing until I looked it up online. And I was like, I don’t want to go to London and do this, I want to go to New York.
If you could wave a magic wand, what dream project would you be doing in five years?
M: Oh man, I just want a lot of things. One of them is to create a one-woman show based upon stories and ideas that we have against black communities and mental illness. Number two would be, I love it here, and I’d just like to continue to work on stuff happening at CASA, because I think it’s really beautiful work, and I think it’s what I want to do: be in the classroom and also work on curriculum. That’s a dream.
S: In an ideal future, I’d like to be in a position where I could travel to work with different communities. You [Morgan] talked about curriculum–I’m really geeked about arts integration, because I did that for three years in Chicago. Especially learning through process dramas and making historical connections. I feel like I would eventually run my own program. If I could find a home within an organization that’s rooted somewhere, like Adventure Stage Chicago is rooted in the Northwestern Settlement House, that would be really fun.
Classes started at the end of August, and now it’s the tail end of November. How have these first three months gone?
S: A lot of my family and close friends were like, “why do you want to go back to school?” Because I’d gotten to a point in my career in Chicago where it’s like, “do you have to go back to school?” Being here, I’m like, oh I understand, this was the right choice. I feel like I’m getting vocabulary and background for a lot of things that I may have heard of or been exposed to. And I love Co-Intentional Director. It’s my favorite class. Artistically, it was the most juicy part of the whole semester, but also I learned a lot by having to direct my actors in a co-intentional way.
M: At first I thought nothing was working, because with CASA, I thought I was going crazy…teaching, getting on trains, going deep into the Bronx twice a week, then coming back, working here on curriculum, then being like, when am I gonna finish a paper…but everything was turned in on time, you know? I did it.
My favorite moment was in theories, in my group project. Our topic was learning theories based on Lisa Delpit, Jonathan Kozol, and bell hooks. I never thought I’d have fun researching, but also, I’m gonna be shady, and I don’t care, it was the first time we were looking at s*!% from a real perspective of people of color, of women, black women, talking about educating. I was like, oh my gosh, I understand. It has really affected the way I teach now.
Overall, I connect with the work I do at CASA the most. I find my train rides to the Bronx to be like, oh my gosh, yes. This is why I’m here.