The following post was written by Kristel Brown, M.A. in Applied Theatre class of 2012:
My family and I recently relocated from New York City to Boulder, Colorado. After eight years in the city, three of which were spent immersed in CUNY’s SPS community as part of both the Disability Studies program and the M.A. in Applied Theatre, it has been a significant, and at times challenging, transition. CUNY’s M.A. in Applied Theatre community is like a cozy home, full of individuals creating sustainable social change through art. These artists are changing their sphere of the world through collaboration and engagement in their diverse communities. Needless to say, it was an incredibly difficult community to say goodbye to.
The beautiful piece of this puzzle is that I’ve discovered that the CUNY community extends across the country. I have encountered fellow Applied Theatre artists throughout both the performing arts and academic worlds in the Denver-Metro area, connected to CUNY’s Applied Theatre program. Through those connections, new work is developing and growing; I am building a new community.
Currently, I am teaching theatre and interactive storytelling with babies and toddlers through Parlando School for the Arts, a community based-after-school arts academy that serves the Boulder area. These classes combine storytelling, music, puppetry, and mime to gently introduce babies and toddlers to the world of theatre and performing arts. Parlando has just received funding for the development of an Early Childhood Theatre and Arts program for children living with developmental disabilities; a program for which I have been asked to create curriculum. Additionally, this summer I will facilitate summer camps with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, through which high school students will devise original musicals and plays.
I am still finding my way, and despite somewhat shaky ground, I have felt the support of the CUNY community from afar. Through the CUNY network, I have found opportunities in this new place, that I would not have found otherwise. The skills I acquired while in the M.A. Applied Theatre program are unique and new to this area. Furthermore, my connection to this diverse web of New York-based artists and practitioners has served as an asset to the work I am building in my new home. Conferences, workshops, and a myriad of resources are a simple plane-ride away. I am grateful for the opportunity to bring pieces of New York City to the Rocky Mountain West, and ecstatic to see where this new path leads.
The Master’s Degree in Applied Theatre, the first program of its kind in the United States, is a sequential, ensemble-based program for students interested in the use of theatre to address social and educational issues in a wide range of settings. The program stresses the unity of theory and practice, and is linked to the professional applied theatre work of the renowned CUNY Creative Arts Team.