The Center for Documentary Studies is among the cosponsors for a Duke Performances artist residency at Duke University hosting The Civilians, the nation’s foremost investigative theater company. The New York-based theater company will return to Duke for a residency from January 19-29, 2017, conducting research and interviews for a new play about charter schools written by playwright Ethan Lipton and directed by Steve Cosson. The previous residency in Fall 2016 featured artist talks and classroom conversations with Steve Cosson, the theater group’s creative director, as well as performances of The Undertaking, a creatively staged investigation of death written by Cosson.
In addition to classroom conversations and workshops with CDS, MFA|EDA, and other Duke students, the 2017 residency will enable The Civilians to take on a unique documentary theater project, focusing on the impact of charter schools in North Carolina as a way to explore the privatization of US public education. The company will interview students, educators, parents, and administrators at both charter schools and public schools, as well as education policy experts, activists, and organizers. A culminating workshop reading, to be held on Duke’s campus, will offer a dramatized first look at some of the research gathered, and a glimpse of what the project will eventually become. This is a rare opportunity to engage with theater-makers as they construct a piece from the ground up — all while grappling with one of the biggest issues of our time.
Ethan Lipton writes, “I’m thrilled to be working with the Civilians on a theater piece that explores charters and the privatization of US public education. I’m especially excited to be doing this at Duke, and that we won’t just be bringing research to North Carolina — we’re actually doing the research there, making a piece with North Carolinian DNA that we will develop at a North Carolinian institution. I’m passionate about education and can’t wait to see what we learn. I’m also excited to share with Duke and its audience our creative processes—I say ours because I have my process, and Steve Cosson and the Civilians have theirs, and this is the first time we’re working together. We’re going to be building this thing from the ground up, and it should be a fascinating opportunity for all of us.”
This residency is made possible by Duke Performances, with support from the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts and the Council for the Arts Visiting Artists Program, as well as the Department of Theater Studies and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.