Introducing our Education Director – Joy Jones

As we gear up for the beginning of our 2010 season at the Bushwick Starr, we’d like to introduce you to some of our friends who will be working with us on our new Big Green Theater environmental education program.

This month, we’d like you to meet our Education Director, Joy Jones.

Joy is an actress, an Arts in Education Consultant, and Master Teaching Artist. She has experience in using theater and language arts to engage primary school, secondary school and adult students in performance and composition.

Hi, Joy. So, what does an Education Director do?

The first thing I’ll be doing with Big Green Theater is acting as liaison between the executive director and the teaching artists, and translating their needs to [Artistic Co-Directors] Sue Kessler and Noel Allain.

Next, I’ll be researching supplemental materials that the teaching artists may need. I’ll be finding New York scientists and environmental activists for the program, particularly in Bushwick, and reaching out to them. I’ll also source actual program materials, such as arts and craft supplies for costumes and sets, which will happen through Materials for the Arts – http://www.mfta.org.

So really, I’ll be managing the big picture, and acting as a sounding board for the teaching artists.

What are some of your ideas about green theater?

I think people should walk away from theater thinking “I know what that is, I know how to do that, and – that has meaning in my life”. It’s meaningful to recognize particular parts of the theatrical process or story, so when young people participate in making theatre, and they have a sense of ownership because it’s their work, they have a sense of connection to the community, and to the world at large.

I’m interested in reuse, in recycling, and of being conscious of the environment. I’m a city kid; I grew up in Washington, DC. You can become distant from the natural world: the turn of seasons, wildlife, or – you can think water comes out of a tap, or that food comes wrapped in plastic. Having a theater program that pairs thinking about the larger world with theater is a great match.

It can be difficult to be a city kid and contact nature; I sometimes remind people of the guy in Harlem some years ago who had a tiger in his apartment; he was found out because he had been scratched. It’s easy to dismiss that guy as a weirdo, but one way to think of him is as a naturalist, being attracted to natural phenomena.  You can see that he was interested in nature, but living in a small apartment, how could he bring himself into immediate contact with the natural world? Well, he got a tiger cub, and raised it in his apartment – and whatever you want to say about that choice, there was some impulse there to interact. A yearning to connect with the natural world.

In addition to advising The Bushwick Starr, Joy has trained teaching artists at PlayMakers Repertory Company (NC) and Smokin’ Word Hip Hop Theatre Company (NY).  Joy has taught in North Carolina, Washington DC and New York, with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, The Washington Shakespeare Company, Theatre for a New Audience, American Globe Theatre and The Shakespeare Society. Earlier this year she received a grant for Shakespeare Metes the Beat, a training workshop for educators on how to use pair hip hop and Shakespeare’s verse to teach composition and performance.  Joy has an MFA in Acting from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (2010) and Certificates in Arts in Education, Curriculum Development and Playwriting.

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