Jeri Pitcher – Creative theater residencies
Jeri Pitcher – Collaborative Theater Creation
An award-winning playwright and an experienced actor and director, Jeri Pitcher currently teaches in the Adjunct Theater Faculty at the University of Maine at Augusta. She is also on the Maine Arts Commission’s Teaching Artist roster and since moving to Maine in 1987 has completed over 100 theater residencies in K-12 schools throughout the state. Most of the residencies have been arranged through collaboration with community arts organizations such as the Maine Alliance for Arts Education, the former Foothills Arts in Farmington, and Mahoosic Arts in Bethel. as well as through The Theater at Monmouth, where Jeri worked as an actor, director, playwright, and eventually Associate Artistic Director for 13 years.
The theater residencies that Jeri conducts involve close collaboration with the classroom teacher and center on devising original theater in the classroom.
Currently, most of Jeri’s residencies are focused on middle and high school classrooms. Much of the work is centered on social issues, such as: aspirations, healthy/unhealthy relationships, social pressures, making choices, harassment, or isolation in school. The work becomes a way to open up dialogue about specific topics and create an environment for reflection and greater understanding.
Jeri used improvisational exercises based on the work of Viola Spolin and her work as theater director of the Chicago WPA Recreational Projects, as well as the work of Augusto Boal and his “Theater of the Oppressed.” Both directors sought to break down the barriers between audience and performer and to create organic and spontaneous theater that is relevant, engaging, and authentic. Jeri uses sequential improvisational exercises, brainstorming activities, and critical discussion in the workshops. She and the class create as a group, on their feet, pushing the desks aside. Each exercise has a specific objective, from creating focus, to team building, to creating original story material. Creating original theater pieces as a group allows us to connect with others and bond through common experience. The work is shared at the end of the residency and the participants are asked to articulate the process and reflect on the work. The audience is encouraged to ask questions and give feedback on the theater piece.
As an Adjunct Theater Professor at The University of Maine at Augusta Jeri has also written theater curriculum and developed courses in Acting and Performance Studies. These courses include methods of arts assessment that include assessment of proficiency in skills and techniques taught, personal articulation of creative process, and group and individual reflection on impact of the work.
Jeri can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can visit Jeri’s website at www.jeripitcher.vpweb.com.
Libby Marcus teaches drama, puppetry and mask-making to all ages, from ‘K’ to ‘MBA.’ She loves to design and implement student centered learning experiences that guide children, young adults, and adults to understand and realize their own creative potential through the theater arts. Libby also enjoys using theater to make relevant interdisciplinary connections and to promote cultural awareness. Under her guidance, students develop practical artistic and critical thinking skills and build confidence in their own creative abilities in a supportive environment. Plus, they have a ton of fun.
Libby has thirty years experience teaching theater arts, mask-making, and puppetry in comprehensive courses, workshops, and short and long-term residences in a range of settings for students of varied learning styles, levels, and backgrounds. She has taught professional development workshops for educators, has been a program supervisor for student teachers seeking certification in theater arts, and is on the Teaching Artists roster of the Maine Arts Commission. Libby has also built successful educational partnerships with museums seeking active engagement with students through drama.
Libby brings creative drama, mask-making and puppetry into the elementary classroom using both discipline-based and interdisciplinary approaches. In the discipline-based approach, students learn the value of creative expression for its own sake while developing group work skills, inter- and intra-personal knowledge, physical and spatial awareness, and verbal confidence. The interdisciplinary approach emphasizes relevant content areas by using source material such as historical events, geography, nature, science, folk tales, poetry, and even math. Either way, the learning is fun and the fun is educational.
High School and Middle School
In her work with middle and high school students Libby can turn self-conscious students into energized collaborators, creating and presenting imaginative theater pieces to their classmates and teachers. Libby created the Theater Arts program at The Boston Latin School, where she taught eighth graders for nine years and oversaw the after school drama program for grades 8-12. She has taught mask making in extra curricular classes for teens in Portland and Boston, creative drama to 6th graders in Woolwich, puppet making to at-risk teens at the Saco Transitional High School through Very Special Arts and shadow puppetry to 7th graders at King Middle School in Portland.
Libby works collegially with other teachers to share practical knowledge in a way that serves them best.
Musical Storyteller Jennifer Armstrong creates programs, workshops and picture books that encourage the creative artist in each of us. Bagpipe, fiddle and banjo enliven her shows. www.jenniferarmstrong.com
Beverly Mann is an actor, mask theater performer, movement theater artist and mask maker with extensive performance and teaching experience spanning two decades. As an educator, Beverly teaches workshops and residencies in mask making, mask theater techniques and theater improvisation.
From Beverly: “Are you interested in expanding your range of character? The mask is a lively and fun form of theatre that capitalizes on the mask’s power to transform the actor physically and vocally. With my existing full silent masks and half-masks, students will explore the physical and vocal aspect of a character, but with the added element of the mask. You will experience a sense of freedom, playfulness and expression that will surprise and invigorate you.”
For more, visit www.beverlyimann.com