It has been a long time coming! I’m happy to share that we now have a final video representing the first generation of Be the Street, which culminated in performances at Third Way Cafe on May 6, 2018. This was a gratifying process from which we all learned so much, and I’m so excited to see the second generation of Be the Street come together under Moriah’s leadership!!
We are very excited to announce that Moriah Flagler is joining Be the Street as Artistic Director for 2018-2020. Here, she answers a few questions about herself and her background. Please welcome Moriah to our team!!
Q: Could you talk a little bit about your background and how you became interested in devising?
A: I think it all started when I went to a new high school where I didn’t know anyone. I was sitting in homeroom and heard an announcement on the loudspeaker that there would be a meeting for an improvisation club at lunch. I didn’t really know what improv was, but thought it would be a good solution to eating lunch alone. Fast forwarding through high school, I eventually became the vice president of the group and a member of a local Tucson improv troupe. I didn’t know it then, but improvisation and devising are closely linked. In improv, I learned how to really listen to my collaborators and how to build on what they offered me and the project. I learned how to support my teammates and how to trust that they had my back. I learned how to be flexible and respond in the moment as goals or tactics shifted. Most of all, I learned how important authenticity is onstage and off. Devising with a group is very much about collaboration… to make something together that exists because of the folks in the room. The process and the product would not exist without them. To me, this is a work of presence and generosity.
Much of my current devising work focuses on engaging across difference. Before beginning graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, I lived in Quepos, Costa Rica for two years. There, I taught English, started an improv troupe with teens at the local theatre, and partnered with applied theatre facilitators doing work in youth development. My experience living and working closely with members of the community in Quepos, deeply instilled my belief that people of different cultures and backgrounds hold a wealth of knowledge and skills that an outsider may not recognize unless they are willing and ready to make the familiar strange and really listen. In my devising work, I strive to create a space in which participants both recognize and share their community cultural wealth (skills and knowledges from their communities) with each other and their intended audiences.
Q: What are some projects that you worked on recently that really excited you?
A: The work I do as an applied theatre facilitator focuses on sharing and listening to personal stories, with the goal of centering voices that the dominant culture often does not value. My work in this area includes interview-based ethnographic theatre, interactive audio installations, and digital storytelling with young people.
During my time as a graduate student in UT Austin’s Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities program, I mentored and co-facilitated a devised ethnographic theatre piece, called Work, with director Matthew Hernandez and an undergraduate ensemble. Work was presented in the Cohen New Works Festival 2017. The ethnographic theatre piece combined audio interviews and devised movement with the hopes of creating connections between students and the custodial workers who care for the environments in which we learn and work.
In another project, Patchwork Stories, at the University of Exeter, UK, I collaboratively created an interactive installation with the goal of sharing the wisdom of those we live and walk amongst in times of challenge and change. As a member of the ensemble, I gathered and curated stories from the community members in the Exeter Drug Project and guided over 50 visitors through the installation.
To listen to my audio: https://tinyurl.com/jat4rmw, Select “Fix Your Gaze” #3.
I’m as much a classroom teacher as I am a theatre maker; because of this, my most recent project explored how I could use applied theatre in my work as a teacher of non-arts content, and specifically in a middle school Spanish for Spanish Speakers class. I wondered how using applied theatre practices in this specific context might offer a way for young people and their teachers to build authentic relationships that focused on students’ assets and elevated their lived experiences or community cultural wealth in the classroom. During my residency, the young people engaged in drama, oral storytelling, and writing activities around the themes of community, family, and what we learn from these communities that help us navigate life. All of this lead to them creating group digital stories in iMovie that they shared with invited friends and family.
Q: What ideas or practices are you most anxious to explore as you get to know Columbus communities and students at Ohio State?
A: I am so excited to connect with students and community members — to see what they’re excited about, to hear their stories, and to create with them. I’m very much looking forward to exploring how storytelling and activism can be linked in Columbus and what this can look like in terms of the work we do together.
Moriah Flagler is a teacher, theatre maker, and scholar. Her research focuses on community-based devising, applied improvisation, and digital storytelling. Her recent scholarship examines how devising digital stories with middle school aged Spanish speakers foregrounded their community cultural wealth in a schooling system that often strips Latinx youth of their languages and cultures through subtractive assimilation.
Moriah holds a Master of Fine Arts in Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities from The University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Education from The University of Arizona. She is excited to join the OSU Be the Street team as Artistic Director and to continue to explore the intersections of place, identity, connection, story, and social justice.
With many thanks to Celia Martinez-Saez for her assistance in captioning this video.
Scott Good profiled Be the Street in anticipation of our open rehearsal and workshops on May 5, and final performance May 6. See his article, “‘Be the Street’ project tells stories from the Hilltop,” in The Lantern.
The Departments of Theatre and Comparative Studies, within the College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University, seek a Postdoctoral Researcher to join our team.
We invite applications for a two-year Postdoctoral Fellowship in community-engaged devised performance. We are seeking an MFA or PhD whose research interests and substantive practical experience center on the making of new works in response to community challenges. The successful candidate will teach two courses in the Spring Semester of 2019 and two courses in 2019-20, semesters TBD. The semesters taught for the Department of Theatre will continue Be the Street, which is now in its second year of theatre workshops and devising about, with, and for community participants in a diverse yet economically distressed Columbus neighborhood. For more information on Be the Street, see https://u.osu.edu/bethestreet/). While so far our performances, devised with novice performers, have centered on the topic of migration, mobility, and place-making, in subsequent years the successful candidate will have the opportunity to select a different topic if they so desire.
The two courses taught for the Department of Comparative studies will introduce undergraduate students to socially engaged performance projects from around the world, whether in theater, protest, or other social performance.
Faculty mentors will guide the post-doc through completion of the course syllabi, supervise teaching, and support the fellow’s research and writing.
Candidates who can speak, read, and write Spanish language are particularly welcome. Experience in Applied Theatre is also strongly encouraged.
To apply, please submit a cover letter, a CV, a 10-15 page sample of scholarly writing, and the names of three references. After selecting our top candidates, we will request reference letters, a 1000-word independent research project proposal, and a sample syllabus outline. We will conduct skype interviews with 3 to 5 finalists.
This fellowship is part of The Ohio State University’s Humanities and Arts Discovery Theme.
The College of Arts and Sciences is the largest college and the academic heart of the university. The College hosts 81 majors. With 38 departments, 20+ world-class research centers, and more than 2,000 faculty and staff members, students have the unique opportunity to study with the best artists, scholars, and scientists in their field. The College values diversity and offers a supportive, open, and inclusive community.
Note: The official posting with the application due date (early May) and submission links will be coming soon, so please keep an eye out.
UPDATE: POSTING LINK https://www.jobsatosu.com/postings/85619