We use the methods of theater artists like Augusto Boal and Viola Spolin in classes and workshops. Our theater techniques promote connection, acceptance, spontaneity, growth, mindfulness and resiliency. Our classes and workshops create joy and connection through the language of theater and improvisation. We use theater as a tool to help communities.
Stephen Cross holds a Master of Fine Arts in Physical Theater and Ensemble Creation, and is a full time faculty member in the Department of Drama at Syracuse University. He is the founding Artistic Director of the Irondale Ensemble Project Canada, Association based in Halifax, Nova Scotia – one of Canada’s pre-eminent community arts engagement organizations.
Andrea Leigh-Smith has worked as a professional dancer, choreographer, and teacher for more than 30 years in the U.S. and Canada. Broadway credits include Jerome Robbins Broadway and SMILE. She also has numerous credits with national tours, Radio City Music Hall, and major regional theaters in both the U.S. and Canada. Andrea is co-founder and resident choreographer for The Irondale Ensemble Project Canada and has created over 40 choreographic works, inclusive of contemporary concert, jazz, and musical theater repertoire. Andrea is a professor in the Department of Drama’s musical theater program at Syracuse University and a Stott certified Pilates instructor.
Kathleen Baum is an actor and theatre teacher who has worked as performer, coach, and teacher at a wide range of venues across the US and internationally. She holds an MFA in Physical Theatre and is on the faculty of the Syracuse University Drama Department.
The Building Company
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2012 – Chairs. Solo physical play wherein an amorphous blob comes into contact with the formal rigidity of two chairs and evolves into a human, and then a god.
2013 - Anime. A short piece wherein two characters evoking anime qualities attempt to find a safe place to sleep.
2014 – Walls of Palestine and Belfast. A co-production with the Irondale Ensemble Project Canada based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Two works in the style of Spalding Grey’s Swimming to Cambodia. One drawn from personal experience with the Israeli Barrier Wall, and one drawn from personal experience with the Peace Walls of Belfast. Presented at the Glass Tank performance space, Syracuse, and at Bard College, Annandale - on – Hudson:
“This is a very moving piece. I really saw and felt the trajectory of learning that happened for your student: random research assignment to visceral connection. And Caley, you are such a fine writer. I hope you continue writing. You have a fine eye for detail to go with a wide observational skill: it's a wonderful balance. Thanks greatly for bringing this to Bard. It shows the ripple effect of student effort in a beautiful way.” P.Marienthal, Bard College.
2014 – Frackenstein. A co-production with Move First Theater of Central New York. Two clowns search for a drink of clean water after fracking has poisoned the once plentiful resource. Presented at the 2014 Syracuse Fringe.
2016-Walls-Transition Position. A physical theater work exploring the stress fractures that result from holding an unsustainable position, or from forcing a rapid transition. Based on the observations of a young woman during her visit to the West Bank in June, 2013.
Upstate Medical Hospital.
Ongoing monthly workshops with Medical Residents throughout their training. Through theater exercises, participants build talking and listening skills, confidence and empathy.
Bi-monthly educational performance with residents working at the Syracuse VA Hospital. Residents learn about veteran culture, and doctor burnout through a 45-minute original work called Military Monday Radio Hour.
Worked with neighborhood children and youth in Northside of Syracuse. We use theater as a means to developing team working skills, interpersonal skills, critical thinking, confidence and self-expression. This also provides a mentoring opportunity for Syracuse University Drama Students.
Helped the neighborhood children and youth rehearse and perform a dance for Hopeprint’s 2017 Cultural Gala.
LaCasita Cultural Center.
Facilitated several weekend workshops in popular theater techniques that effectively transferred foundational philosophies of the work of arts practice in community development. Participants were made up of members of the LaCasita Latin community, teachers, and adult educators:
“The full-day workshops will engage people in the practice and theory of theater as a catalyst for social reform and community development,” Cross says. “The work is energizing, analytical, and creative. No theater background is needed for people to participate.” Cross says one of the goals of the workshop is to empower community organizers to incorporate theatre processes into their programs. “This kind of theatre is about cultural democracy,” he says. “I am confident people working in any kind of program—education, health, employment, literacy, children, youth, seniors, recreation—will discover how theater can support their daily work.”- College of Visual and Performing Arts News Release.
2013 Imagining America Conference, Syracuse.
Designed and performed a parodic clown piece called Scholars with Borders that argued in favor of increased university partnering with the Syracuse community -
“Dear Stephen, Reaching out to tell you that your work at the IA conference continues to resonate and reverberate. The to-do list from our last conference-planning call gave me the happy task of trying to engage you in some work with us in advance of and during the next conference, next Oct 8-11 in Atlanta.”-K.Bott, Associate Director, Imagining America.
Hutchings Psychiatric Center.
Presented several improvisational shows to residents and staff of the Hutchings Inpatients Program.
Syracuse City Schools.
Visited Nottingham and Fowler high schools as guest lecturer as part of Partnership for Better Education program.
Nottingham High School Jewish Youth Association.
Workshop and improvisational performance for Jewish Youth.
Workers' Center of CNY.
Ongoing work with members of the Syracuse Latin using Agitprop Theatre, Forum Theatre and Story Theatre.
Fabius-Pompey Middle School High School.
Support curriculum for students grade 8-12 using Viola Spolin games and Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed.
Building Company Theater is a theatrical "construction site" rooted in collaborative play. As an ensemble of artists, we empower communities in Central New York to take action towards liberation and well-being through original works of theater and educational outreach.