Category Archives: Theater Studies

New Orleans theater ensemble NEW NOISE brings physical theater workshop to Emory

This is the Place Where Your Body Belongs: Performing Home

A workshop led by Joanna Russo and Phil Cramer of NEW NOISE, a critically acclaimed New Orleans theater ensemble currently in residence at Serenbe. Introduction by Malina Rodriguez, Theater Emory’s Technical Theater Coordinator and Co-Founder of The Lucky Penny.


Theater Emory recently teamed up with The Lucky Penny to present a physical theater workshop to the local community. This is the Place Where Your Body Belongs: Performing Home
with NEW NOISE of New Orleans, explored some of the methods that NEW NOISE uses in devising original multi-disciplinary work. Through the medium of performance, participants asked themselves and each other one of the questions at the heart of NEW NOISE’s show Oxblood: Is there a place where your body belongs?

NEW NOISE’s Oxblood is currently being developed and presented in the Atlanta metro area as part of a 2016 Project Residency with AIR Serenbe. See it in performance July 22-24, 2016 at 6pm, at Deer Hollow at Serenbe.

We asked for feedback from two of the workshop participants who are rising seniors at Emory. Here’s how they described their experience: 



I wasn’t too sure what to expect, I wasn’t completely sure what I signed up for, and I definitely wasn’t sure how physical my body could get, but come Saturday July 15th, I was set to take part in a two-hour physical theater workshop led by the innovative NEW NOISE of Louisiana.

I was pretty nervous as I rushed in chomping my last couple bites of lunch. The workshop began with a physical warmup reminiscent of Gaga dancing, then swiftly transitioned in to a non-stop workshop that would have moments introducing completely in-body theatrical techniques, then moments that were a physical fruition of subconscious writing on deep thought questions such as “Where is home?” and “Where does your body belong?”

Throughout the workshop, a heart of collaboration between the various disciplines of performance art was extremely clear. Being a true and blue liberal arts student who loves blurring the lines in which we confine the different medias of art, this was my jam and butter! The room was filled with artists with various backgrounds from dance to theater and spoken word artist to those who speak solely with their bodies. We would work in teams combining these backgrounds to improvised skits that blended into improvised movements that blended into improvised writing, allowing me to see the variety of natural performance from the artists in the room. As a student with a background in stage acting, I soaked in all the various media and artist’s techniques that pushed my ideas of what theatrical performance could be.

The two hours went by in a blur, I honestly left wishing we had a full day to play! Alas, I will have to suffice by further supporting the NEW NOISE troupe in their performance of Oxblood at Serenbe this weekend, July 22nd-24th! I am extremely thankful for being able to take part in their workshop and would love to see more!

Dalyla McGee
Class of 2017
Anthropology and Human Biology Major
Theater Studies Minor


IMG_2291The NEW NOISE Workshop was, at first, simultaneously very new and familiar territory to me. As a dancer, I often do not use my voice as a vehicle of expression in performance. My instinct is my body. So, naturally, I was slightly anxious about an experimental theater workshop.  With Joanna’s encouraging and clear direction, that anxiety melted away as the layers of physical mediums in art began to overlap. The intrinsic similarities between art forms opened up an endless universe of loosened possibilities; no right, no wrong, just speak with your body, speak with your voice.  Prompts for creative writing exercises like “describe home to you” or “where does your body belong?” lent themselves to deep-seeded realities brought to light in a myriad of qualities: playful, dark, poignant, tense, sexy, cheerful, surprising or hilarious movement phrases, to name a few. These movement phrases, supported by a vocalization and embodiment of the words written, emphasized that the mover, the speaker, and the creator are one and the same to me. It was a very powerful experience that I am very thankful to have had! Not to mention the fresh opportunity to embody an exhausted book, a creeping chicken, and a devouring automatic vacuum cleaner…

Clara Schulstad Guyton
Class of 2017
Dance and Movement Studies Major
English Major



My Atlanta Fringe Festival Experience

Charis Wiltshire, Travis Draper, and Wala Hassan perform in the opening of Ember

The 2016 Atlanta Fringe Festival returned June 9 – 12 in various venues in and around Atlanta’s Inman Park neighborhood. During this year’s festival, a group of Theater at Emory students and alums (members of Corpulent Porpoise Productions) mounted Ember, a new play by playwriting major Max McCreary. Below, members of the production recount their experience taking part in Atlanta’s annual festival of edgy, new work.

The 2016 Atlanta Fringe Festival was my first Fringe festival as a performer.  Working with a group of students all studying at Theater Emory, we enjoyed an easy rehearsal chemistry, since we all spoke the same language and knew the same shorthand.  This certainly streamlined our brief rehearsal process, since we only met about eight times.  Going into the piece, none of us knew much about Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) nor could we ask our playwright for frequent clarifications on the script, as he was occupied elsewhere.  Therefore, with Adam Friedman at the helm, we were given liberty to explore our own blocking and pacing, to determine dramatically how symptoms of DID might manifest.  I believe a major take-away from our production, certainly something to enrich the playwright’s future drafts, was our discovery of how ineffectual immobility can be in a drama of language.  After weeks of deliberation, our director made the call to mobilize the alternate identities, opening up a fruitful discussion about cognitive movement as well as providing a wealth of acting opportunities.  Rehearsal and development was both satisfying and very entertaining, but the major draw of Fringe Festival for the artists has to be the unlimited, free access to all other fringe shows during the festival.  While I hope our work will help the playwright better his play and provide the director with future insights, I gathered my pearls out in the audience. – Travis Draper, Class of 2015


The Atlanta Fringe Festival was a wonderful opportunity in a community venue that provided a great atmosphere for the performances. Our rehearsal process was concentrated on realizing the script written by our student author; giving him a reading with staging to further his work. Because of this, we communicated closely with Max McCreary about what experiments in rehearsal would be the most helpful as he continued to develop this work. Though our venue lacked AC, our performances were smooth to run with good audiences as well. Fringe is certainly a piece of work, but the commitment to make something unique, new, and worthwhile makes the festival a really fun workspace. – Ginny Loeffler, Class of 2017


Working on the Atlanta Fringe Festival was an experience I’ll always be grateful for. I had a stellar time with my ensemble trying to put on a fellow student’s play. We started with just regular rehearsals and as the date got closer we began to do previews with the festival. These were great because I got to see some of what the other companies were working on and I got to meet a lot of cool talented people. I even ran into an old friend of mine! We got artist passes so I was able to see some of the other shows which were all really good. It was a really great professional experience that I think all students should do and can do with ease and I would highly recommend and do again! – Wala Hassan, Class of 2017


Being able to participate in the Atlanta Fringe Festival was a really cool experience. Before Fringe I never tapped into the vast extent of artistic opportunities happening in Atlanta and the festival really helped open my eyes to that.  It was awesome being welcomed into a community of artists who are encouraging, supportive, and love what they’re doing. We got to see a few of the extremely talented performers for free, which was awesome and much appreciated. Also, being able to work with such good friends throughout the whole process, from playwright to director to actors, really made the experience as dope as it could possibly be. – Charis Wiltshire, Class of 2018


This year has been one of firsts for me, and it is only fitting that my first year at Emory is punctuated with my experience at Atlanta Fringe. My imagination, for a long time, has been excited by scenes of people blocking freshly-written scripts in plainclothes, in rehearsal halls long after the sun has set, creating, with force and determination, artful theater, bringing it, so to speak, from thin air. Theater-making, in my mind, is synonymous with tension and release, roughness and vigor and vitality, and these words come to mind as I reflect on the experience I had helping bring Ember to the Fringe stage. I feel immensely honored to have been trusted with Ember, and I’m thankful to have been brought into the project. My familiarity with my cast mates, the director, and the writer brought a palpable chemistry to the project. I trusted all of them, and that was ultimately empowering. To work with a script that was energetically new and unvarnished in places, finding the inspirations and forces my friend had written, and watching my cast mates extract it all before my eyes was a compelling thing to behold.

The festival itself was a whole other experience, an exhilarating one. The works I watched ranged from rowdy and comedic to deeply written drama, and they all impressed me by their sense of inspiration, each piece had something ingeniously unique about it that imbued the festival with an air of electric novelty. Watching fresh and new pieces, knowing I was with a company and cast that had new work of their own to offer, brought to life an experience I had only been able to imagine. It drove home an idea that art doesn’t just happen in a vacuum, that we find ourselves as a community of theatre-makers, not insular productions. Everything about the experience was real and untethered, and deeply unforgettable. – Josh Oberlander, Class of 2019


The Atlanta Fringe Festival was my first experience directing a professional production, which brought a whole load of lessons with it.  The process was much more streamlined than a production, and rehearsals were a bit sparser, as we were working around everyone’s working schedule.  However, this was balanced out by the fact that we were all used to working with each other from previous productions and classes.  Another lesson learned was how much can be left open and up to interpretation when developing new work.  This is both good and bad, as it provides unique opportunities to shape an audience’s interpretation of the work, while also posing unique challenges as how to best portray the writer’s intents.

The festival itself was an incredible experience.  From kickoff to closing, it was filled with an infectious energy from performers and organizers alike.  The festival’s organizers did an excellent job of providing the artists with opportunities to promote their work through a night of previews, as well as individualized previews throughout the weekend.  In addition, all of the artists were put together in a room, giving us the chance to connect with each other and learn about all the shows that were going on.  I think that may have ultimately been what was the most valuable part of the experience – meeting and connecting with so many exciting artists in the Atlanta area.  – Adam Friedman, Class of 2018


Q & A with “As You Like It” student artist, Jennifer Lenchner


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Jennifer’s sketches

Q: How did you get involved with Theater Emory’s two productions of “As You Like It”?

A: After exhausting the normal art classes Emory has to offer and a semester of independent study with Professor Kerry Moore, I asked to do another independent study. Both art professors had very busy schedules so I went to my co-major advisor Leslie Taylor and asked to do an independent study with her. She then offered the opportunity for me to do sculptures for Theater Emory’s Spring production!

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Close-up of one of Jennifer’s completed tumbleweeds

Q: So what are you doing for the production?

A: I’m the Artist in Residence and am creating two different series of sculptures. One series is focused on being a part of the environment as tumbleweeds made of animal parts. The other series is composed of 5 individual pieces of animal parts that are put together vertically on the side of a wall.  The tumbleweed pieces are made specifically to be utilized on stage whereas the latter series is made to be minimally used on stage besides being put up by the actors to become part of the environment/scene. 

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Detail of an animal part

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you faced creating a piece of art for the theater?

A: Truthfully, I’ve found that making art for theater has been less challenging in some ways. Creating art for theater offers a lot of support, there are multiple minds to pick about the direction I am going in with a piece. Since I am making pieces for a play, I get more specific comments instead of the general nod of approval from my art professors. Related to my previous comment, I started off creating pieces with a specific vision and purpose which made for an overall quicker process. Given what I just said, the biggest challenge I believe is creating art that is “big” enough for theater. I have made a wire sculpture piece that I adore, but from a long distance, the piece gets lost and hard to see for some of the audience. 

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Sculptures in progress

Q: Do you hope to continue working in theater in the future?

A: I have been surrounded by creative, fun, and supportive staff at the Mary Gray Munroe theater that have made artistic collaboration an absolute pleasure and supported my artistic creativity in making these sculptures. With that, I am definitely interested in working on the art side of theater again. 

Photo journal: Wala Hassan in England

Theater Studies student, Wala Hassan, shares her experience as a study abroad student at the London Academy of Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) through photos.

One of my first days at LAMDA was spent getting to explore Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London. It was absolutely amazing! I had never seen a castle before and I got to see two of the most famous ones all in one week! I was a little over-excited (which is pretty clear in this picture). Hampton Court had the most beautiful gardens AND the most convoluted floor plan. I still don’t know if I saw even half of the whole grounds that day, but I did thoroughly enjoy myself. Hampton Court also has a maze that my friends and I made it through!
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With LAMDA, I got to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon for 3 days! It was a lovely trip, Stratford is such a beautiful place. On the trip, we saw two shows at the Royal Shakespeare Company: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Doctor Faustus. Both shows were amazing. My entire group was completely blown away by Doctor Faustus in particular; I could have seen it five hundred more times. We also had the opportunity to take a masterclass exploring A Midsummer Night’s Dream!
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I think this looks like I’m sitting in front of a painting, but it’s actually the beautiful river Avon. I could have stared at it all day. While visiting Stratford, LAMDA arranged for us to explore Shakespeare’s birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s cottage. It was really cool to be in the same place that Shakespeare was born, almost surreal. What made it even more surreal was that I saw his grave the same day. It was really cool to get to pay my respects to the bard in breathtaking Stratford-Upon-Avon.
This is the Tower Bridge…almost. I tried to take a panorama photo with a view of the beautiful bridge, the Shard, and the Gherkin; turns out, panoramas can’t be taken with your phone sideways. I didn’t see this gem until I got home and had such a laugh that I decided to share it with my friends on Facebook. Someone shared it to Reddit and the next thing I knew, it went viral. One of my friends messaged me letting me know that TimeOut London shared my picture on their page.  It was pretty exciting since TimeOut is very famous, even if nobody knows I took the picture. It’s nice to have some anonymous fame for my Inception style tower bridge photo. Tagline: Failed Study Abroad Picture.
I got to take to coolest boat ride to Greenwich and see the Prime Meridian line! I have to say, I really thought there was going to be some mega-crazy time warp from standing in two timezones at once, but alas there was none. On this hill, there were some very cool museums, a beautiful view, and a piece of a meteorite labeled “the oldest thing you will ever touch.” Of course I took advantage of that opportunity.
Southbank is one of the most beautiful places and walks in London in my opinion. It’s a short walk from the London Eye, Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the like. It’s also home to the National Theatre. I was lucky enough to see two shows at the National, one with Emory abroad and one with LAMDA. With LAMDA, I saw As You Like It which was pretty exciting, and I can’t wait to see the productions at Theater Emory when I get back!
One Wednesday afternoon, my professor at LAMDA decided to send us on a scavenger hunt to an undisclosed place. My group ended up in Spitalfields in East London. The architecture there is truly one-of-a-kind. It’s the only place I’ve seen where there are building erected pre-1500s juxtaposed with the Shard and Gherkin buildings that look like they were built in the future. We explored every little bit (or at least tried to). It was an amazing Wednesday afternoon. I later returned with my Emory abroad group and found stuff I had missed the first time, including the Denis Severs house, which was the COOLEST thing ever. 10 out of 10. Would recommend.
I entered a ticket lottery to see Red Velvet and didn’t win, but I did score discounted tickets! I was so fortunate to get a chance to see the show at the famous Garrick Theatre and also to meet the cast, including Adrian Lester (pictured), afterwards. The whole experience was definitely worth standing outside for over an hour! The show was so amazing and really powerful. I first learned about the show in my History of Drama and Theater II class so I was VERY excited to learn that Kenneth Branagh was remounting a production and that Olivier-winning Adrian Lester was reprising the role of Aldridge. I even got to see it from the third row! So I basically fan-girled that whole day (and I still am fan-girling).
Unfortunately, the outdoor Globe Theatre is closed during the winter. But that didn’t stop me and my friend Mona from taking a tour inside. It was absolutely beautiful and most definitely one of the best places in London. I got to touch the stage and the dried-on fake blood (haha). Even though the outdoor Globe is closed, the Sam Wannamaker Theatre was open and, fortunately, LAMDA took us to see Cymbeline there! It was a very intimate theatrical experience. I even got to experience what it was like to be a groundling (even though we weren’t technically on the ground). It was so magical to see the Globe, which is almost an exact replica, because my lover for Shakespeare is what brought me to LAMDA in the first place.






Emory University Announces 2016-2018 Fellow in Playwriting

March 10, 2016

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Holder (right) with theater faculty member Brent Glenn in rehearsal during Brave New Works 2016

Emory University’s Department of Theater Studies and Creative Writing Program announce the 2016-2018 Fellow in Playwriting, Jiréh Breon Holder.

One of only a few of its kind, the Emory Playwriting Fellowship provides an emerging playwright the opportunity to explore creative pursuits while engaging passionate Emory students and the Atlanta theater community at large.

Holder comes to Atlanta as an exciting new voice in American theater. “As a young artist gaining recognition in American theater, he is a terrific role model for our students,” explains artistic director of Theater Emory, Janice Akers. “When he speaks about his chosen path in life, his exuberance is palpable.”

Lisa Paulsen, director of The Playwriting Center of Theater Emory says, “Jiréh’s work is at once captivating and provocative.   We are delighted to offer him an artistic and academic home at Emory for the next two years, affording him the opportunity to renew his connections to Atlanta and create his newest work within our community.

Read full announcement here.

Looking Back on Brave New Works

Kate Howard (18C) shares her thoughts on her experience serving as the Communications Assistant for Brave New Works 2016

This semester I was fortunate enough to complete my Theater Practicum class a bit differently than what my peers might consider the typical route for the course, and I am so grateful that I did. Theater Practicum (otherwise known as THEA 200R) is a required course for all Theater Studies majors and minors.

It was fascinating to witness collaboration in the rehearsal room.

According to the class description students are to “undertake a substantial technical theater responsibility in a Theater Emory production”.  My substantial responsibility was to serve as the Communications Assistant for this year’s Brave New Works program under the guidance and instruction of my two wonderful mentors, Emma Yarborough, the Programming Coordinator/ Company Manager of Theater Emory , and Lisa Paulsen, the Director of the Playwriting Center of Theater Emory! As the Communications Assistant, my responsibilities included photographing and sitting in on the rehearsals and performances of many of the Brave New Works, hospitality set-up and support for visiting artists, working towards updating the Playwriting Center/Brave New Works representation on the website, and documenting workshops and readings through blog posts among various other small projects. Through these responsibilities I gained new experiences learning  how to work a DSLR camera to take pictures in rehearsal, navigating the back end of a website to add content, as well as  understanding what goes into setting up an event so that it will run smoothly( from making sure everyone has a place to park there car to ordering and setting up the food for the after celebration).

This was by far my favorite photograph. It was wonderful to observe Shannon Eubanks direct!

In addition to the work that took place outside of the rehearsal room, I especially enjoyed all the time I spent inside the rehearsal and performance spaces. It was fascinating to see the collaboration between the directors, playwrights, and actors as the rehearsals got off the ground and everyone got really absorbed and involved in the process. I watched one director get everyone up on their feet and worked through the script using a lot of movement.

This is my good friend Zana at King James Rehearsal.

Another director was excited to talk through with the cast about their characters and used a lot of verbal idea processing to navigate the new work. As I went into another rehearsal, I watched a playwright add music to her piece and give it to the actors to listen to and use as they took on their characters. Hearing the questions that all of the artists asked, watching them think through the material, adding new lines to the script, or simply watching the piece progress as the cast worked through the new work was an experience I will never forget.Seeing my friends, my teachers, and professionals whom I have collaborated with in the past or brand new faces work together was a true joy and I am extremely proud to have so many wonderful role models! Though I may not have taken the typical Theater Practicum route, I would not change it one bit.


Kate Howard


Thoughts from Max McCreary, Assistant Director of “The Younger”

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Cast and crew of The Younger

During the past week I was fortunate enough to get to watch the true transformation of a play. I observed the metamorphosis of Anne Hugh’s play The Younger, in its world premier staged reading. Serving as assistant to director Jeremy Cohen gave me the opportunity to sit behind the table, instead of the music stand, as he and dramaturg Edith Freni helped to further trim and shape the play in development. Although my duties were not always called upon, I was allowed to act as an observer on the whole process and that provides a plethora of learning opportunities on its own. For any aspiring theater artist, watching other, established artists is key to developing your own vision as an artist. Even if I did not always agree with a decision that was made by Jeremy, or by an actor, it was still significant that I was able to see the process of making that decision, to analyze why I would or would not have done the same thing, and to hear how such a choice might come to fruition.

However, I believe that the most astonishing and miraculous thing about this show and the process of bringing it to the Schwartz Theater Lab was the incredible amount of work that Anne achieved over the course of four days. Anne came into the rehearsals with an open mind and impressed us all with her poise. She truly demonstrated grace under pressure as she mercilessly “killed her darlings” and pared a 112-page script down to 85. New text came floating in and out of binders right up until the opening of the house, which signified Anne’s next step on her journey of highly refined storytelling.

The way that we tell stories and the reasons that we are telling them are amazingly important to the creation of a new piece of theater. Jeremy and Edith went all in to provide a truly unique opportunity for Anne to listen, watch, and create… and in my opinion that’s what developing new work is all about.

~Max McCreary