Central alumna Cathy Englade (MA Applied Theatre, 2012), along with Dr Selina Busby (MA Applied Theatre Course Leader), current students Qita Iseley and Rachel Hunter (both BA Drama, Applied Theatre & Education, 2015) and a New York based production team, are developing the second phases of The Crossing Bridges Project in partnership with Central and Covenant House International, an NGO that shelters and aides more than 55,000 homeless and trafficked youth annually throughout six countries.
The New York based project, designed and led by Cathy, kicked off in spring 2015, when Covenant House youth attended master classes facilitated by some of the theatre industry’s most accomplished artists including Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winners and nominees. After four weeks of learning the fundamentals in writing, directing and acting for stage, the young people and guest artists collaboratively devised and then performed to a full house at the Crossing Bridges Play Festival on 22nd March in The Helen Mills Theatre.
Building on the success of this project, Covenant House and Central are now working in partnership to create another two projects in this academic year. Phase two sees a further 15 young people and 28 Broadway Professionals working together for four weeks in the autumn of 2015. This work will culminate in a public performance on 15th November. Free tickets for the event are available via Eventbrite.
The masterclasses start on the 20th and 21st October with two acting sessions.
The first of these will be led by the actor, singer and theatrical producer Brandon Victor Dixon. Brandon was nominated for a Tony award for playing Harpo in the Colour Purple, for a Grammy for playing Berry Gordy in Motown The Musical, and was recently seen on stage at The Garrick Theatre London playing Haywood Petterson in the award winningThe Scottsboro Boys.
The second acting class will be led by the actor Rachel Brosnahan. Rachel is best known for her roles in the filmsThe Unborn and Beautiful Creatures, for playing Rachel Posner in House of Cards, for which she was nominated for an Emmy, and for her role as Abby Isaccs in Manhattan.
Other Broadway artists taking part in the project include:
David Henry Hwang - Playwright & Librettist. David is a Tony Winner, 3 Time Obie Winner and 2 Time Pulitzer Prize Nominee. His plays include M. Butterfly, Aida, Tarzan, and Chinglish. David’s work is the subject of a book by Esther Kim Lee in The Bloomsbury Critical Companions series The Theatre of David Henry Hwang due to be published in December 2015.
Danya Taymor - Director in Residence at The Flea Theatre, whose credits include My Daughter Keeps Our Hammer (NY Times Pick), Romeo & Juliet, The Honest Whore.
Todd Pettiford - Actor whose credits include Rent,The Lion King, Smokey Joe's Cafe, and Riverdance on Broadway.
Jeff Calhoun - Director and choreographer of Newsie, which received 8 Tony Awards nominations including Best Musical and Best Director of a musical for Calhoun.
Brain Carson - Performer and puppet wrangler with credits that include John Tartaglia’s ImaginOcean and Wildlife Theatre.
What first phase project participants said...
"In a Funny way when you’re pretending to be someone else, that’s when you can be most yourself"
"I learned how to be more free"
"Sometimes with dancing, you can just say more than with words"
"Thank you for making my heart come alive"
"My goal is to give the youth the practical tools to "cross the bridge" into a new space, laying aside the mantle of being homeless, broken, abused and abandoned. On a stage, in a script, they can choose a new narrative and tell the world who they are behind the homelessness”