Wow. It was spectacular!

Maya Musical_1w_2

Featuring an original script and Broadway composed music, The Maya Musical has been a life-changing experience for the 100 low-income students involved. Maya, a partnership between ASTEP and Teach for India, tells the story of Princess Maya’s journey. Tasked to bring light back into her Kingdom, Maya and her friends use the values of courage, compassion and wisdom to lift 3 curses that have been cast on the world.

Like Maya, these children have discovered their brightest light. Thanks to an extensive team of dedicated ASTEP Volunteer Artists, Teach for India staff and scores of supporters, the show opened this month to thunderous applause.

“Maya gives me the power to live my life.
Maya is an inspiration that helps me to help others.
Maya is a song that encourages me to sing out my own voice.”
– Priyanka, 14 years old


The list of individuals who helped make this possible is inspiring!

From the ASTEP Team:

Allison Gibbons, Andrea DeLonis, Anna Jacobs, Asavari Thatte, August Eriksmoen, Ben Campbell, Callie Tepper, Charlie Sohne, Christopher Behmke, Cicily Daniels, Coty Cockrell, Danielle Mooney, David Goldsmith, Elle Sullivan, Enrico De Trizio, Francesca Betancourt, Garen McRoberts, George Abud, Georgia Stitt, James Sasser, Jane Pfitsch, Jay Mack, Jeremy King, Julianne Merrill, Kelcie Miles, Kendal Sparks, Lotte Crayton, Lynne Shankel, Maggie McNeill, Martyn Axe, Michael Sample, Michael Shawn Lewis, Natalie Silverlieb, Nick Dalton, Nieva Acoba, Paul Loesel, Rona Siddiqui, Russ Kaplan, Sam Davis, Sara Wordsworth, Shannon O’Bryan, Taylor Williams, Tim Rosser, Tony Fuemmeler, Trent Jeffords, Tricia Berry, and Wendy Wheeler

We will be forever grateful!

The Maya Project | Teach for India


Just one year ago, ASTEP and TFI joined forces to write and produce Maya The Musical, a project performed by low-income students from Pune, India. Teams of Volunteer Artists have spent countless hours composing music, choreographing the scenes, and rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing! The show is scheduled to open in November 2014 and then tour around the country, directly impacting all Teach For India’s 32,000 children, through the Maya Book, Curriculum ideas, Film and the 100 Artists Program!

Stay tuned for more updates as the countdown begins for opening night!

One special art project, led by ASTEP Volunteer Artist Asavari Thatte, selected 5 kids involved in Maya and had them analyze the concept of “story” or “narrative,” and contextualize it against the backdrop of their lived experiences or the narrative of Maya. The second part of the project was illustrating the stories they had written. Below are their final pieces:

Thank you to all of the Volunteer Artists who have helped make this new program such a success! Elle Sullivan, Garen McRoberts, Asavari Thatte, Wendy Wheeler, Allison Gibbons, Francesca Betancourt, Kelcie Miles, Andrea DeLonis, Danielle Mooney, Lotte Crayton and ASTEP Program Facilitator Nick Dalton

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.


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


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


Nick Dalton, ASTEP Volunteer

* Towson University – Region 2 highlights

* Darton College – Region 4 highlights


Alejandro Rodriguez, an ASTEP Volunteer Artist

* Centenary College of Louisiana – Region 6 highlights


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.


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


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



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.



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


Video contribution from KCACTF 5 student

Vicky Stafford, Iowa State University




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