Posted on: March 6, 2019
How does a choreographer use mathematics to create a compelling piece of theatre? This fall students at James Madison High School answered that question through workshops with Teaching Artist and Broadway actor Geoffrey Goldberg.
Every year over 150 NYC classrooms are visited by Roundabout Theatre Company Teaching Artists. The goals are to enhance teacher practice and deepen student learning. In one recent residency students explored math in a new way and brought to life some of their work with numbers and grids. They learned about theatrical staging and creating choreography as it relates to putting together a show.
“We created a grid in the middle of the classroom that we used to represent upstage, downstage, stage left and right, as well as the quadrants on a grid. We didn't need a ton of space for it and giving a physicality to their equations had a great impact.”— Geoffrey Goldberg
Using theatre to teach core curriculum subjects is a hallmark of Roundabout’s education philosophy; and transforming classrooms into theatres and our theatres into classrooms is what makes the experience memorable and effective. In this classroom each student created equations that represented their artistic choices (equations for lines and shapes that represented formations for bodies on stage). The group focused on Roundabout's production of Apologia and explored relationships between individuals. They then worked together to answer how a choreographer uses proximity and staging to express the relationships.
Some students were nervous to present their work, to “dance” and be active during class. However, low risk activities scaffolded throughout the workshops create a “safe” and “brave” space. After testing their equations and practicing their dance steps, the young artist-mathematicians were ready for their final presentations. The performance included unique formations and impressive routines.
A lesson plan comes to life when it is theatricalized in the classroom, and when students and teachers bridge the gap between artistry and curriculum, because theatre skills are life skills.
"The professional mentorship of Roundabout's Teaching Artists and experience of attending Broadway productions will continue to elevate the artistic and academic skills of our students."— Principal Jodie Cohen
For more information on Roundabout's education programs please click here.
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
School Partnerships are supported by the Gray Foundation