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NBPS Welcomes Juilliard Drama Curriculum Specialist Stephanie Cunningham

26 April 2022

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NBPS welcomes Curriculum Drama Specialist, Stephanie Cunningham. During her visit, Cunningham showed middle and high school students how to use their self-expression to harness the creative way of learning.

Stephanie is a New York City-based theatre director and arts educator. As an artist, she works to promote theatre as an accessible art form and tool for social change.

What do you look forward to when traveling to various schools? 

Teachers are my favorite people, so I always look forward to discussing big ideas in teaching and learning and what they are curious about when it comes to growing their practice. I have had the pleasure of knowing the folks and NBPS for just about five years now, so there is a comfort level in being able to come here and try new things to keep developing my own skill as a curriculum specialist.    

In what ways do you inspire students to pursue a career in theatre? 

I think one of the big things we as the Juilliard K–12 team are always thinking about, is how to open the doors of drama to students who might not be interested in acting. When we are creating lessons, we are thinking about the students who might be more interested in playwrighting as an artform, or design, or directing. The theatre is this magic place where it takes so many different types of artists to touch the hearts and minds of our audience.    

What is your take on how the Julliard School enhances our students’ learning/creative experience? 

I think a big takeaway of our approach is allowing students to be in the creative driver’s seat. It is vitally important to engage students in meaningful artistic experiences—ideally, their own experiences. Ownership of their learning helps students find their own artistic voice. Inviting students to think and work imaginatively can have lasting effects on all academic subjects. 

What do you consider the toughest part of directing? 

I think the toughest part is always that there is an ending. Which I know is cliché, but the heart of a director I think lies in rehearsal. We love rehearsal. Rehearsal is filled will every possibility, but part of the job is choosing and focusing, and then there is an endpoint where you have to let the audience in.  

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