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Current student, T.J. Black (’14) contributed the following recap of the inaugural Master of Arts in Applied Theater Lab Conference that was held in mid-March:

Masters in Applied Theater students at The CUNY School of Professional Studies

On March 17, 2012, students and alumni of the Master of Arts in Applied Theatre program gathered for the inaugural MAAT Lab Conference.  The MA in Applied Theatre was developed in 2008 in collaboration with the CUNY-Creative Arts Team as the first degree-granting program of its kind in the country.  It is committed to the goal of creating leading practitioners in the field, using theatre as a tool to address educational issues and affect social change.  The Lab Conference, organized by current students T.J. Black (’14), Olivia Harris (’14), Leah Page (’13) and Ben Weber (’13), was designed as a forum for current students and alumni to explore pressing topics in applied theatre, and to further cultivate an ever-growing community of applied theatre practitioners coming through the program.

Despite issues with scheduling—the conference was rescheduled due to Hurricane Sandy—nearly a third of all current students and alumni chose to participate.  The sessions were a mix of participatory workshops and plenary discussions, covering a range of topics including sex and gender in the classroom, fundraising, applied theatre work in prisons, and many more.  Several of the sessions were inspired and/or developed by class work done in the MA program.

Masters in Applied Theater students at The CUNY School of Professional Studies

During the closing reflection, the community expressed that the conference was a useful and effective exploration of current questions in the field of applied theatre. Attendees also found it to be an ideal opportunity to network with colleagues from different graduating classes.  There is an enthusiastic interest in continuing to develop the conference as a venue for collaboration, dialogue, and exploration of the major issues facing this emerging field, potentially opening to the wider community in the near future.

Presenters included current students Rachel Evans (’13), Olivia Harris (’14), Shamilia McBean (’13), Brisa Munoz (’13), and Ben Weber (’13), as well as alumni Ria Cooper (’10), Max Forman-Mullin (’12), Maggie Keenan-Bolger (’10), Jessica Levy (’12), Heather Nielsen (’12), Kevin Ray (’11), Julia Taylor (’12), Sherry Teitelbaum (’11), and Michael Wilson (’11).

For further information on the MAAT Lab Conference, please contact T.J. Black at

For more information on the MA in Applied Theatre, please visit