Ali and Alejandro’s tales from KCACTF!

Here at the ASTEP office, we get to hear the stories and inspiration that come out of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) as soon as our team members come home. This year, we thought we’d give you the opportunity to hear some of these thoughts, as well!

ASTEP’s Alejandro Rodriguez and Ali Dachis are thrilled to share a few of their experiences on the road with you!

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Alejandro Rodriguez’s thoughts from KCACTF Region 6:

Region 6 of this year’s Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival returned us to “the Other Side” of Louisiana, and to our fabulous hosts at Centenary College in Shreveport. It was great to see some familiar faces among the Centenary crew — the industrious Joe Signorelli, the riotous Victoria Chavis, the cool-headed Clint White and Centenary faculty member/resident wonder-woman Emily Huegatter. Last year, fired up by ASTEP’s mission and spurred on by our exchanges at the 2013 festival, Emily and her students chose to make their production of Moliere’s The Miser a fundraiser for ASTEP, and sent all their proceeds to us in New York. This year, I got to thank them in person. They were once again impeccable hosts.

ASTEP had another major assist in Region 6 from a young woman I met in Shreveport last year and who a few months later was volunteering with us at the Refugee Youth Summer Academy in Brooklyn, New York, as a KCACTF / ASTEP Scholarship Recipient: Ms. Molly Page. Molly spoke about her experiences in both of our workshops this year, and galvanized her peers with her stories. We can’t thank you enough, Molly. (Region 6 has been a blessing to ASTEP on many fronts — it’s also where we met Ms. Kelcie Miles, who volunteered with us in Homestead last summer and travelled to India shortly thereafter!)

Conversations were initiated with faculty members about exposing their students more directly to ASTEP’s work— with David Blakely from Rogers State University, Pablo Guerra-Monje from University of Arkansas Fort Smith, and David Lee Painter of the University of Idaho, among others— and we met several students excited about the prospect of volunteering in the very near future. Our Time to Make a Change workshop was on Friday afternoon and it got so charged that it actually ended in hugs for some and tears of inspiration for others. The Living Outside the Box workshop was on Saturday and it filled the room with 20+ students eager to talk about what it might mean to live fruitfully as an artist in America today. On top of this, I got to see my dear friends at the University of Oklahoma (Kelcie’s alma mater) in a riveting production of Miss Evers’ Boys by David Feldshuh, a play I hadn’t been familiar with before but that now I won’t forget easily. Throughout the week, we were treated to festivities and comforts of every sort, all with a distinctly Louisiana flavor to them. Ask anyone who knows her, they’ll you Region 6’s chair Joy Pace knows how to throw a party.

I’ve already received several follow-up emails from students I met in Louisiana. I can’t wait to carry forward these important conversations. In a region that, for us, has such beautiful roots, I can’t wait to see which new flowers will bloom.

 

Ali Dachis’s thoughts from KCACTF Regions 4 and 5:

My time at KCACTF could not have been more wonderful and inspiring! I did not know exactly what to expect being with college students, and I was fearful because I thought that those making their transition from teens to twenties would be full of judgment and doubt. Instead, I was met with open arms by everyone at Region 4 (Roanoke, Virginia) and Region 5 (Lincoln, Nebraska). Faculty treated me like one of their own, but it was the students who really blew me away with their eagerness to learn and think about the world as artists in new ways. I was thrilled to share my first workshop Living Outside the Box in Lincoln Nebraska with 22 students and teachers as we talked about how our skills can serve more than just a career. Some really interesting questions arrived: How can we make social change with the talents we have? How can we exist as artists as well as healthy human beings? How can we give back to the world with our art? I left inspired by the exchange of so much positive energy. In Region 4 this particular workshop was smaller, but just as powerful. The students brought their honesty and hearts to the workshop and we explored what it means to be more than just one thing, or what it is to live outside ‘the box.’

The Time to make a Change workshop really delved into what it is to experience change and how we feel before and after a major change in our lives.  In both Regions 4 and 5 I was happily surprised by how openly everyone shared. Both vulnerability and respect were present in a room full of strangers. How lovely, how rare! From there we were able to make plans for how we wanted to change our personal communities for the better. Not only did everyone come up with amazing ideas; I was inspired by the compassion and drive within each and every person in the room. We all left with an eagerness to build a stronger community where we live.

In the midst of all of this, I was able to see some awesome work as a judge for the Irene Ryan competitions, and a respondent for several shows and invited scenes. I also was lucky enough to find some time to take a Pilates workshop, a Yoga workshop, a D’ell Arte workshop, and a Broadway Cares workshop (also full of amazing ideas for change). All in all this exhausting, packed, lovely week left me excited and inspired for the future.

ASTEP and Kennedy Center Fellows announced!

ASTEP Fellow Victor Colon and ASTEP Volunteer Artist Nick Dalton



ASTEP and the Kennedy Center are thrilled to announce the 2013 ASTEP Fellow scholarship recipients:

Victor Colon from University of Puerto Rico
National Scholar – will volunteer at ASTEP’s program in Quito, Ecuador

Kelcie Miles from Oklahoma University
Regional Scholar – will volunteer at ASTEP’s program in South Florida

Molly Page from Louisiana Tech University
Regional Scholar – will volunteer at ASTEP’s program in NYC

Maria Arvanitakis from Kansas State University
Regional Scholar – will volunteer at ASTEP’s program in south Florida

JJ Krehbiel from BridgeWater College
Regional Scholar – will volunteer at ASTEP’s program in India


ASTEP Fellows will receive a stipend to cover their travel costs and meals when they volunteer with ASTEP. They were selected based on their exemplary leadership and dedication to using the arts to empower communities, and ASTEP is excited to have them join our community of artists. Special thanks to Gregg Henry, Artistic Director at Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, for his continued commitment to supporting and collaborating with ASTEP.

To learn more about ASTEP and our volunteer opportunities, visit our homepage today!






Second year partnering with The Kennedy Center!

ASTEP is thrilled to partner for a second year with the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF), a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide, to enhance the quality of college theater in the United States. ASTEP will be leading two workshops, “Artist as Citizen” and “Devising with ASTEP”, and joining a prestigious panel of judges for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship. (Check out our 2012 experience!)

Artist as Citizen

Do you believe in the power of Art to transform communities? This interactive workshop will focus on how we can delve beyond our technical training to harness our collective power and begin to build a space where everyone’s stories can be heard. Together, we will explore how we can use our craft as a means of ensuring the strength of our communities, our culture, and the future of the American theater. Come and reclaim ownership of your own artistic fulfillment.

Devising with ASTEP

ASTEP artists live at the intersection of the Arts and Global Justice. In this workshop, we’ll be building original pieces of Devised Theater using ASTEP’s unique process-oriented approach. Drawing from your own personal experiences and ideas, a few inspiring prompts, and techniques for devising that an ASTEP facilitator will guide you through, participants will create pieces around a common theme.

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We’re mid-way through the festival! Sharing updates from each of the eight regions visited so far are returning ASTEP team members:


Abby Gerdts, ASTEP’s Director of International Programs

* Saginaw Valley State University – Region 3 highlights

* American River College – Region 7 highlights

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Mauricio Salgado, ASTEP’s Director of Domestic Programs

* University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Region 5 highlights

* Cape Cod Community College – Region 1 highlights

* Los Angeles Theater Center – Region 8 highlights

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Nick Dalton, ASTEP Volunteer

* Towson University – Region 2 highlights

* Darton College – Region 4 highlights

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Alejandro Rodriguez, an ASTEP Volunteer Artist

* Centenary College of Louisiana – Region 6 highlights

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Kennedy Center scholarship recipients reflect on their ASTEP experience

This year, The Kennedy Center and ASTEP awarded two (2) scholarships at the Kennedy Center American College Theater National Festival for students to participate, fully-funded, in one of ASTEP’s programs in the U.S. and around the world. This year’s recipients were playwright Louisa Hill and actor, Michael Pfeiffer. Check out their updates: 

 

Louisa is currently volunteering in our program in Quito, Ecuador through partner organization, Project CREO, where we provide in-school and after-school art programs for at-risk youth living in the Central Historic District of Quito.

“Greetings from Quito! I’m writing to extend an enormous thank you…for the grant to work with Artists Striving to End Poverty. I arrived in Quito several weeks ago to work with CREO Arte, an organization that seeks to inspire and empower kids through artistic expression. I’ve been honored to be a witness to the important work CREO Arte is doing and to make global connections with so many others who see the importance of art education. I hope that this is the start of many other collaborations with them and with ASTEP.

Thank you for recognizing the important work that ASTEP is doing and for offering me the chance to join them. I’m immensely grateful for this opportunity.”

 


Michael
volunteered this summer in our Art-in-Action summer camp in south Florida, through partner organization, enFAMILIA, where we provide a six-week arts summer camp for immigrant and migrant youth.

“Volunteering with ASTEP and Art-in-Action this summer truly was life changing for me. ASTEP prepares you to ‘learn as much as you have to give,’ and I feel as though I learned a lot more than what I gave to the youth we worked with. … Many of the kids I worked with had amazing and troubling journeys, and Art-in-Action gave them a chance to dance, sing, act, and paint out their stories. It became a way of expressing and bonding in a very safe and nurturing environment. You as the volunteer artist become a vehicle for all of the youth to play, discover, and grow through the arts.

I would recommend any passionate artist, no matter what your discipline, take the time to experience what ASTEP has to offer. It sincerely is one of the most challenging and gratifying experiences of a lifetime.”

 

 

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Who we are: a video snapshot!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAPvdumfOrQ&feature=youtu.be

A huge thank you to Yazmany Arboleda, an ASTEP volunteer and multimedia artist extraordinaire, for creating this colorful and enthusiastic video highlighting our programs over the years. For some of you, this will be a trip down memory lane since some of the images captured here are from the very beginning of ASTEP! Enjoy!!












Discussing the artist’s role as citizen with the Justice and the Arts Initiative at Santa Clara University

By: Mauricio Salgado, Director of Domestic Programs

From April 16-April 21 2012, I had the honor of being an artist in residence with the Justice and the Arts Initiative (JAI) at Santa Clara University. For the fifth year, JAI Co-directors and SCU Dance faculty members, Kristin Kusanovich and Carolyn Silberman (pictured left), invited me to connect with their community, which seeks to create an intellectual frame of reference for examining and fostering artistic processes that are critically bound to issues of social justice, and to support practices and methods of developing artist-activists at SCU. As usual, the experience was uniquely invigorating! Aside from the workshops I presented, I witnessed performances affirming the power of art and many one on one conversations considering the artist’s role as a citizen.

On my first morning there, I witnessed SCU’s production of “What Strangers May Know,” a play commemorating the 32 victims of the shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007. The outdoor event involved  76 members of the SCU community ( students, staff, alums and faculty members), focusing on 32 separate one act plays memorializing each of the victims. Aside from immersing myself in the 32 stories, I also found myself reflecting on the culture of mourning; a thought that I continued to explore while visiting class reflections and in personal conversations with students and faculty. From the beginning, I found myself enlivened by a community that is processing profound social issues.

The next day, I led the first of two workshops exploring the empathic process and its use in community development. About 40 students participated in the workshops, where we also discussed ASTEP’s practice of using Arts Education to develop empathy in students. Most importantly, the workshops provided a space for students to consider what it means to pursue justice for the oppressed and impoverished, and how artist activists should prepare for that pursuit.

While at SCU, I also attended the 2012 Bannan Fellow Lecture by Dr. Maeve Heaney. Entitled, “Beauty and Beast; the role of the arts in Jesuit higher education,” the performance landed the importance of the arts in higher education in order to broaden intellectual capacity. I specify that the event was more of a performance than a lecture, because it included scenes, music, dance pieces, and painting. As Maeve demonstrated, singing about beauty lands the point more effectively than speaking about it – and if so, it is equally more effective at relating social injustice.

As happens each time I visit SCU, I left inspired to deepen my own understanding and pursuit of Justice and eager to relate the stories that moved me. I left ready to take the next step in helping artists strive to end poverty.

 

ASTEP and The Kennedy Center. Promoting college theater nationwide.


ASTEP has been working with the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival 2012 (KCACTF), a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide, to enhance the quality of college theater in the United States.

From January-February 2012, ASTEP’s four representatives–Nick Dalton, Abby Gerdts, Alejandro Rodriguez, and Mauricio Salgado–have been presenting and running master classes at each of the eight KCACTF regional schools and at the National Festival in April 2012:

To get updates and video of their experiences, check out the links below.


Started in 1969 by Roger L. Stevens, the Kennedy Center’s founding chairman, the Kennedy Center American College Theater (KCACTF) is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide which has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States. The KCACTF has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theater departments and student artists showcase their work and receive outside assessment by KCACTF respondents.

 

The goals of the KCACTF are to:

  • Encourage, recognize, and celebrate the finest and most diverse work produced in university and college theater programs.
  • Provide opportunities for participants to develop their theater skills and insight; achieve professionalism.
  • Improve the quality of college and university theater in America.
  • Encourage colleges and universities to give distinguished productions of new plays, especially those written by students; the classics, revitalized or newly conceived; and experimental works.

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Abby Gerdts, ASTEP’s Director of International Programs, sharing updates from the KCACTF Region 3 at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaignand KCACTF Region 7 at Colorado State University

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Mauricio Salgado, ASTEP’s Director of Domestic Programs, sharing updates from the KCACTF Region 2 at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and KCACTF Region 1 at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts

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Alejandro Rodriguez, an ASTEP Volunteer Artist, sharing updates from the KCACTF Region 8 at Weber State University in Utah and KCACTF Region 6 at University of Oklahoma School of Drama.

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Passion for theater at KCACTF Region 5. Nick Dalton reports.

Below, an excerpt (click here for Nick’s full update):

“One of the most inspiring people I met was “Lolly” Laura Foy, who attended both ASTEP workshops and introduced me to a dozen of her students and co-workers. She was the Region’s 2010 Irene Ryan Finalist, and is now a professor at Winona State University. She went to Grad School at the age of 48, after having fallen in love with a Street Artist in the Renaissance Circuit in her 20?s and literally “Ran away with the Circus.” Now with 2 kids, and the un-censored artistic passion of a child, she inspires her students to think out of the box and that there is no one way to live your life or hone your craft and give back. Needless to say, the student she coached was one of this year’s Irene Ryan Finalists going to DC!

And these were just a few of the many powwows that happened during the 3 days, because our goal seems to be something alot of Collegiate communities need desperately. But, that necessarily can’t be developed in house because even Professors have to focus on writing papers and research as a means of keeping their jobs by attaining tenure– so even their passion and story gets lost in the fight for survival getting limited to safe commercial art in programs also supported primarily by ticket sales instead of University Funds. So, the poverty of free thought is occurring in all aspects of the collegiate community not just the students. If all this can be discovered in 3 days in Iowa, I a cannot wait to see what Region 4 brings!”

— Nick Dalton, ASTEP Volunteer

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Video contribution from KCACTF 5 student

Vicky Stafford, Iowa State University

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Nick with JESSE SHERMAN and DEON HAIDER

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Nick with Rich Sommer (actor, MAD MEN), Amanda Duffy (actress, wig mistress to Broadway shows) and John Plumpis (actor, BARRYMORE)

Mauricio Salgado interviewed at Region II festival.

Just last week, Mauricio led two workshops at the KCACTF Region II Festival at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and engaged with students from around the mid-Atlantic region. A reporter from The Indiana Gazette, Bill Zimmerman, attended these workshops and highlighted ASTEP’s focus on the transforming power of the arts:

On Thursday, attention turned from the stage to the community, when Mauricio Salgado of Artists Striving To End Poverty offered two workshops centered on making the world a better place. In the first session, “The Artist as Citizen,” 15 students and educators took part in a lively discussion in Cogswell Hall about the role of the artist in the community.

“This is a dialogue that we need to be having,” he said. “I have a perspective, and I’d like to hear the rest of yours.”

The Juilliard-trained actor opened by reciting an inspirational piece created by an ASTEP volunteer working with disadvantaged youths in Florida, where the organization does much of its work. It included rap lyrics, humor, a little profanity and the line: “No one on this planet can tell you what you’re worth.” The group was impressed. (Read the complete article here!)