This summer, 12 high school theater teachers had an opportunity to come to campus for the first Summer Intensive for Theatre Teachers (SITT) sponsored by the University’s College of the Arts.
For five days in August, the teachers, including those from Little Falls, Maplewood, Chatham and Staten Island, NY, participated in workshops and mentorship with professional theater practitioners. Headed by Susan Kerner, associate professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance, and Marie Sparks, director of Academic Services and Outreach, SIIT focused on directing Shakespeare and offered tailored professional development, directing experience and peer networking designed to enhance and sustain creative theatrical activity in New Jersey Schools.
With the support of a University Student Faculty Research Grant, eight Montclair State theatre majors were selected as a resident acting company and worked closely with the high school teachers in speech and movement classes taught by professional actors/teachers Julie Lawrence and Heather Benton.
The high school teachers used the skills they learned in their classes on Shakespearean performance as they directed the Montclair State actors in Shakespeare scenes. The scenes were performed around campus in balconies, around trees and sculptures, and on outdoor staircases. The group of twenty teachers and Montclair State students learned valuable lessons about acting and directing Shakespeare and formed close bonds as they worked together through the week.
“SITT was a highly successful program that will be developed further and has already contributed to MSU’s growing reputation as the state’s best resource for theatre teachers seeking professional development opportunities,” Sparks said. A five-minute documentary the summer intensive is in the production phase and is scheduled to be posted on the University’s Web site in December.
Pictured, BFA students Kodi Milde of Mahwah and Peter Kendall of Wayne perform a scene from Shakespeare's "The Tempest," directed by Darlene Rich, a theater teacher at JP Steven High School in Edison.