A Room of One’s Own

Good thing I have good walking shoes.  And an Unlimited metro card. Run around time has begun.

Started the new Pace class yesterday.  They are an awesome group.  I introduced Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process (thanks to Unlocking the Classroom for putting my eyes on it) as I’ve been not 100% pleased with how feedback sessions go in creative situations. I wanted to practice on work that wasn’t theirs.  I asked them to choose a play we were all familiar with.  Perhaps it’s a sad state of theater that we couldn’t find a common play.  I went to film.  Someone suggested Star Wars, but not everyone had seen that either.  Somehow we ended up with a certain film about a man who overcomes his disabilities, class and a single-parent up-bringing to become an influential–albeit, haphazardly so–figure in history.  Yes.  That movie.    But that’s not important.  What’s important is that we practiced the process, with them taking turns as the writer and responder while I facilitated and they got quite good with it in a short period of time–giving and receiving feedback in a meaningful way.  And it really made a difference that the artist drives the conversation with their own questions about their work.  We will see how the semester goes, but I am quite hopeful and so glad to have found this new way of workshopping plays right off the press.

Started at Teachers and Writers yesterday.  I am meant to assist with their programs this year and to work on my own writing.  I am so excited. When I was taken to my new office, I almost started to cry.  A lovely little room, filled with light.  A red wall, two other walls of glass and the third wall with a window, from which you can see the Hudson.  A little red hand-painted public school chair that was apparently found on the street.  I have never had a room of my own in which to write.  It does make all the difference.

I am familiarizing myself with their programs and am astounded at how far reaching they are and what a lovely history they have, being founded by many, but Herbert Kohl and Muriel Rukheyser, who are two personal heroes.  Much to do.  Much to learn.  Much to look forward to.

Found Objects and Harold and Kumar

The folks over at Significant Objects are bringing a whole new meaning to the words, “found objects.”

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The curators find a bunch of objects (for under $2) at garage sales, thrift stores, on the street, etc., then commission a writer to invent a story about the object–giving it a history, a life, a past, a “significance.”

Then, the objects are sold on e-bay. 

I like it.  I’ve sort of always loved found things.  Re-appropriated, re-made, re-contextualized.

In other news, Harold and Kumar are both respectively, well, in the news. 

John Cho is featured in Asian Pacific Arts and talks about how he used to be an English teacher during the day and act in plays at East West Players at night.  Kal Penn quit his sweet gig on House to work as Associate Director in the Office of Public Liason for Obama’s administration.

It seems to be our imperitive as Asian Americans to be overachievers.
Or to die trying.

Me, I’m more of an underdog than an overachiever.  But my nose, oh yeah, it’s to the grindstone.

Shaking Up Shakespeare at the Public and Children of Invention

The lovely Cindy Cheung stars in Children of Invention, a new film by Tze Chun that is the centerpiece for the upcoming Asian American International Film Festival in NY.  The official summary: Two young children living outside Boston are left to fend for themselves when their mother gets embroiled in a pyramid scheme and disappears.  I saw this in it’s premiere at BAM and it moved me and broke my heart.  I think that this is the story of so many immigrant families who come to the US to make a life and end up scrabbling to get by.  It’s told with specificity and restraint and I really think it’s an astonishing first feature film.

Check out the trailer here:

In other news, just spent an intense week training with the inspiring  Michael Wiggins to get ready for some programs at the Public Theater this summer.  My head is spinning.  I learned some new games.  We built an exciting sequence for Shakespeare Lab, Jr., a free Shakespeare exploration program for middle and high school students.  And I’m psyched for Summer Shakeup, next Friday, July 10th at the Delacorte in Central Park.  750 young people!

And the 4th of July is upon us.

Happy Independence Day.

Uniforms

I grew up wearing them.  Green jumper in grade school.  Herringbone skirt and a blue blazer in high school.  I really kind of hated it at the time, because it’s hard to feel like an individual.  But it might explain my penchant for blazers and structured clothing now.

Sheena Mathieken is wearing the same dress for a whole year.

It’s an exercise in sustainable fashion and she is donating the proceeds to the Akanksha Project, a non-profit in Mumbai that uses volunteer college students to help educate children who live in the slums.

Look.

And there’s an interview with her on Flavorpill here.

What is the role of the teaching artist?

Just sat in on a web symposium at the Seattle Art Museum, sponsored by the Dana Foundation and facilitated by Russell Granet.  There were 600 people listening in from across the country!

Topics included: What is the role of the teaching artist in public education?  How can schools maximize a partnership with an outside artist?  What is the artist role in the classroom, in the art room, in the school?  How can artists help build a culture in a school where creativity, innovation, and imagination are at the core of teaching and learning?

These were the panelists:

•    Lisa Fitzhugh, Founder, Former Executive Director, Arts Corps.
•    Sarah Johnson, Director, Weill Music Institute, Carnegie Hall.
•    Nick Rabkin, Researcher, Teaching Artist Research Project, University of Chicago
•    Naho Shioya. Teaching Artist.

They are going to archive the webcast on the Association of Teaching Artist’s website.  Look for it.

It is helpful to be given the opportunity to reflective about our practice and to constantly think about how we can do things better individually and systemically.   And as most of our work is done for the school year and we’re winding into summer, dreaming about next year and what’s to come.  Thanks, Dana Foundation.