arts education at the
gertrude stein repertory theatre

The Global Classroom

GSRT works extensively at the university level, experimenting with new techniques and platforms for professional training and academic education in the arts. These projects have included international videoconferencing, 3D interactive spaces, multimedia databases, and Internet-based student portfolios. Together we have been working to create a new platform for distance learning that can be used to connect teachers in a rich, multimedia environment for live interaction.

We have collaborated with a number of major colleges and university systems, including:
  • Yale University
  • St. Petersburg Academy for the Theatre Arts, St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Binghamton University
  • Cornell University
  • University of Iowa
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute
  • University of Georgia
  • University of California, Santa Cruz
  • California State University, Sacramento

Virtual Textbooks

a virtual textbook by TGSRT

The performing arts are notoriously difficult to communicate using conventional media. For example, wow can the experience of witnessing the premiere of a famous production, or the experience of a performer, be documented accurately in a textbook? In order to capture the rich history, we have developed several different types of online texts, which we refer to as Virtual Textbooks. These unique distance learning environments use advanced telecommunications technology to connect performers, students and scholars to rare archival holdings at museums and private collections around the world. Virtual textbooks are designed to enhance traditional learning techniques by using multimedia tools such as 3D models of historical theaters, audio, and video, with interactive exercises and grade tracking facilities. The textbooks are accessible over the Internet, and are intended for use in class and for private study.

Graduate Texts: Russian and Soviet Theatre Arts and Culture in the Great Utopia

This Virtual Textbook concentrates on Russia from roughly 1890 to 1940, a period marked by the end of the Romanov Dynasty. Russian Theatre Arts and Culture in the Great Utopia is a study of how forces of rebellion and repression shaped an emergent art form.

Undergraduate Texts: Introduction to Western Drama (Versions 1 and 2)

Plays, as literature, are unique in the fact that they are not complete works until produced onstage and experienced by an audience.

The playwright's vision, as articulated in the script, passes through the imaginations of many collaborators, who, like detectives, mine the words for clues: bits of coding; associations; meanings; and motivations. Using these clues, the collaborative team breathes life into the script; the finished product ultimately exists for only a short time on stage.

Embodying this philosophy, the Virtual Textbook contains online tools designed to give students "hands on" experience in theatrical collaboration. Interactive exercises include Music Exercises, 3-D Lighting Design, and Set Design Exercises. From play analysis to directing, GSRT's Virtual Textbook attempts to open a window into the heart of theatrical collaboration.

Virtual Textbook Features

Chapter Design
Virtual Textbooks are designed to make use of the multimedia features that allow teachers to customize their classes. For instance, lecturers have the option of using introductory chapters written by Russian historians and figures in the performing arts, or using templates to post their own writings. Additionally, because the textbook exists on the Internet, information within chapters can be linked to customized glossaries or multimedia materials in any of the textbook archives.

Each chapter contains an archive. Archives provide on-line access to rare theater artifacts, documents, photographs, film and audio clips from some of the world's foremost theatre museums and collections.

Three-Dimensional Models
Throughout the history of drama, plays have been written with specific theater architectures in mind, or to take advantage of stage machinery of the age. We believe students should have access to the most vivid representations of those theaters possible. The Virtual Textbook allows students can "navigate" through 3D models of the great performance spaces of theater history--examining the architecture, the relationship of the stage to the audience, the machinery, the backstage area, and the orchestra.

Historical models are built using rare materials from theatre archives, museums, and private collections. The materials in these holdings provide the documentation for building 3D models of theatre buildings and detailed sets of groundbreaking productions that have had a profound effect on the development of Western theater.

The types of materials to which students have access include:
  • Original blue prints
  • Models built by the designers for the original productions
  • Original production photographs
  • Two-dimensional design renderings of costumes and sets
  • Images of actual costumes and set pieces
  • Blocking and design notes in original promptbooks
Interactive Global Timelines
Timelines are another component of the Virtual Textbook. Virtual Timelines are designed to allow students to monitor major cultural, social and political developments throughout the history of the world. They contain links to detailed materials about acting styles, theater models, articles, essays, glossaries, and web sites to give them a broad perspective on the evolution of culture within a specific geography and its relationship to the rest of the world. For example, students looking at the 17th century would discover that at the same time that Commedia Dell'arte was evolving in the West, Russia imported dancing bears as a popular form of theatrical entertainment at the Court Theater, while India had evolved the Natya Shatra, one of the most complex and layered treatises on performance in existence until today.