Teachers spent time learning about Jacob Lawrence and practicing playwriting in the galleries where The Migration Series is on view.
On July 7 and 8, teachers from schools in Washington, DC, and Prince George’s County spent two days at the Phillips working together to discuss and practice strategies for arts integration. The experience not only incorporated lesson planning, but it brought the group together to form a teacher cohort community. With a focus on Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series, the focal point of an exhibition this fall, the cohort used playwriting to navigate Lawrence’s work. From playing theater games to writing their own monologues, the cohort practiced ways to bring stories to life for their students with the help of playwright Jacqueline Lawton.
Left: Former Phillips’s Curator Beth Turner video conferenced with the cohort to provide behind-the-scenes information about Jacob Lawrence and The Migration Series. Right: Teachers use artworks and photographs to tell stories.
The two-day institute also familiarized teachers with Prism.K12, the museum’s teaching tool to create arts integration for any subject. As they brainstormed ideas of how to incorporate Prism.K12 arts integration strategies and playwriting in their classrooms, they also used social media as a way to share their thoughts with one another and the greater educator community. Teachers are already sharing classroom tips and will document classroom process; follow along in Twitter and Pinterest with #PrismK12 and #MigrationExperience for more!
Teachers explored theater games to build community and boost creativity!
Laura Hoffman, Manager of K–12 Digital and Educator Initiatives ran a “Social Media Bootcamp” for teachers.
I have never gotten to play the same part twice, until this reading. I actually avoided the opportunity after I played Mandy in Studio Theatre’s 2012 production of this show, rejecting an audition invitation for the same part in a production that was to happen just a few months after Studio’s production closed. I had a good reason: were I fortunate enough to be cast, I didn’t believe I’d be able to enter the new process with an open mind as to the new possibilities that come with a different team, director, cast, and crew. I didn’t feel that enough time had passed for me to let one production go and therefore be able to freely commit myself to the next.
A few years have passed since then. Over the years I have been able to differentiate what I believe is true about the character, no matter what the setting, from the production itself, and it’s that character knowledge that I’m so looking forward to re-examining in this reading at The Phillips Collection.
Mandy is simple, but not stupid, in spite of what others may initially think. She speaks her mind, but never with negative intent; there is always a positive reason behind her words and actions, even if she doesn’t think through how those words and actions may be received by others. She is unencumbered by sarcasm, ulterior motives or pretense and is instead fiercely earnest in her belief in the power of love,compassion, and happiness. She is fair, and loyal, and funny, and impressively emotionally intelligent.
With this knowledge, I’m excited to get going on this reading for two main reasons:
Mandy is a rare type of person in today’s world. As an actor, it’s a joy to play someone who is so positive and open and to follow that emotional journey, particularly when the character stands in such stark contrast to the others in the play. Experiencing the effect that Mandy has on the other characters, as well as how they mold her over time, is a really fun journey to take.
Having never repeated a role before, I can’t wait to see how the Mandy I know evolves with this group of characters that my Mandy hasn’t met yet. How will she change now that she’s presented with new personalities, moments, and motivations that the other actors and the director provide? And what effect will my own growth as a person over the last 3+ years have on her? What will that teach me about myself?
There’s a lot to look forward to; I can’t wait to get started!