David Neumann

Undergraduate Discipline

Theatre

Graduate Program

MFA Theatre Program

As artistic director of Advanced Beginner Group, Neumann’s original work has been presented in New York at PS 122, New York Live Arts, The Kitchen, Central Park Summerstage (in collaboration with John Giorno), Symphony Space (in collaboration with Laurie Anderson), Abrons Arts Center, The Chocolate Factory, and The Whitney. Advanced Beginner Group has also performed at the Walker Art Center, Jacob’s Pillow, MASS MoCA, American Dance Institute, and Carolina Performing Arts, among others. Neumann has been a featured dancer in the works of Adrienne Truscott, Susan Marshall, Jane Comfort, Big Dance Theater, Doug Varone, Doug Elkins Dance Company, and in two duets with Mikhail Baryshnikov. His choreography in the theatre includes The Antipodes at Signature Theatre, Futurity with Soho Rep and Ars Nova, An Octoroon at Soho Rep, Underground Railroad Game at Ars Nova, and directing Geoff Sobelle in The Object Lesson at BAM Fischer and New York Theatre Workshop. Neumann was choreographer on Hagoromo with Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto, Home at BAM Harvey, and Sibyl Kempson’s Let Us Now Praise Susan Sontag at Abrons Arts Center. His film work includes collaborations with Hal Hartley, I Am Legend with Will Smith, Marriage Story with Adam Driver and Scarlett Johanssen, and White Noise directed by Noah Baumbach. Neumann is the recipient of three New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Awards (including Best Production in 2015 for I Understand Everything Better). The third installment of the Distances... trilogy, in collaboration with theatre artists Marcella Murray and Tei Blow, will be presented in New York in 2024. Neumann has also been nominated for Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Circle Critics awards for his choreography on Hadestown. He is also the recipient of a 2019 Chita Rivera Award for Outstanding Choreography of a Broadway Musical for Hadestown. Most recently, Neumann was choreographer on Swept Away, with music by the Avett Brothers at Berkeley Rep. SLC, 2007–

Undergraduate Courses 2022-2023

Theatre

Choreographic Strategies and Theatre

Open, Component—Year

This course will explore methods of creating original theatre through a choreographic lens as a way of assembling the various building blocks from which theatre is made (sound, image, movement, language, design, etc.), as well as through the influence and manipulation of time. The semester will begin with structured prompts and assignments largely completed in class, eventually moving into self-generated collaborative projects with some work to be completed outside of class. One of the main focuses of this course is the attempt to articulate through open discussions, one’s creative process and choices therein. Through analysis of said exercises, students will come to more clearly know one another’s work and methods. Students will be asked to create movement sequences, collaborative projects, and other studies as a way of encountering the use of assembly, juxtaposition, unison, framing, interruption, deconstruction, and other time-based art practices. Readings will include manifestos and selections from an array of artists, essays and excerpts of various theatre practices from around the world, as well as watching examples on video. As students will be working within various levels of physicality, wearing loose, comfortable clothing is encouraged. No dance or movement experience is necessary; one only needs curiosity and a willingness to jump in to find value in this course.

Faculty

First-Year Studies: Rigorous Action/Happy Accidents—A Laboratory for Theatre Artists

FYS—Year

This course is a hands-on testing ground for students who might have a wide range of interests in the theatre. Centered on collaborative methods for creation and performance, Rigorous Action/Happy Moments is geared toward enabling students to find their own artistic voice, creating their own solo and collaborative theatre works, while exploring various artists, influences, and approaches ranging from the New York avant-garde of the 1970s to artists working now. We will cover a wide array of multidisciplinary artists who create performance, investigating both their philosophies and their methodology. Class work will be a combination of readings/discussions and creative exercises where students try their ideas together in space. Additionally, an emphasis on the choreographic perspective will explore various methods, including: assembly, repetition, observation, deconstruction, and care of the moment-to-moment experience. Curiosity, bravery, and a willingness to make mistakes are all encouraged, as these are crucial attributes to any creative process. The course will culminate in a short solo theatre work conceived, created, and performed by each student. Rigorous Action/Happy Accidents meets once a week for two hours and will alternate individual conferences with small-group meetings/conferences to include screenings, field trips, and performances. Students will also enroll in two other theatre components of their choice to complete their Theatre Third. Students are required to attend scheduled Theatre Meetings and Think Tanks and complete a set amount of technical support hours with student productions in the theatre program.

Faculty

Graduate Courses 2022-2023

MFA Theatre

Choreographic Strategies and Theatre

Component—Year

Through the creative reuse of mass media, this course is designed to introduce students to a performance strategy that synthesizes an experimental performance practice from existing material. By stripping found media materials from their original context and arranging them in new ways, participants will explore the methods and politics of appropriation in performance work. By then extending these techniques into embodied practices, students will experiment with various methods of extracting movement, text, and intention from these source materials. Biweekly workshops on text, sound, and video manipulation in a collaborative format will alternate with experiments in performance composition and lectures on the historical use of appropriation in a variety of art forms. Participants should have an interest in both performance and performance technology, though experience in either is not a prerequisite. The course culminates in a rehearsal and performance period.

Faculty

Previous Courses

Theatre

Directing, Devising, and Performance

Open, Component—Year

Through the creative reuse of mass media, this course is designed to introduce students to a performance strategy that synthesizes an experimental performance practice from existing material. By stripping found media materials from their original context and arranging them in new ways, participants will explore the methods and politics of appropriation in performance work. By then extending those techniques into embodied practices, students will experiment with various methods of extracting movement, text, and intention from those source materials. Biweekly workshops on text, sound, and video manipulation in a collaborative format will alternate with experiments in performance composition and lectures on the historical use of appropriation in a variety of art forms. Participants should have an interest in both performance and performance technology, though experience in either is not a prerequisite. The course culminates in a rehearsal and performance period.

Faculty

Directing, Devising, and Performance: Devising With Media

Open, Component—Year

Through the creative reuse of mass media, this course is designed to introduce students to a performance strategy based on sampling ​existing text, video, and sound. By stripping found media materials from their original context and arranging them in new ways, participants will explore the methods and politics of appropriation in performance work. By then extending those techniques into embodied practices, students will experiment with various methods of extracting movement, text, and intention from those source materials. Biweekly workshops on text, sound, and video manipulation in a collaborative format will alternate with experiments in performance composition and lectures on the historical use of appropriation in a variety of art forms. Participants should have an interest in both performance and performance technology, though experience in either is not a prerequisite. Each semester of the course culminates in a major performance project.

Faculty

Movement for Performance

Open, Component—Fall

This class will explore the full instrument of the performer; namely, the human body. A daily warmup will open the body to larger movement ranges while introducing students to a better functioning alignment, efficient muscle and energy use, full breathing, clear weight transfer, and increased awareness while traveling through space. A combination of improvisation, contact improvisation, set phrases, and in-class assignments creating short, movement-based pieces will be used to explore a larger range of articulation that the body reveals regardless of the words spoken on stage. In all aspects, the goals of this class are to enable students to be courageous with their physical selves, more articulate with their bodies, and more personally expressive in performance. No movement background is required—just a healthy mix of curiosity and courage. In addition to occasional reading handouts, there will be opportunities to attend rehearsals and performances of professional theatre and dance in New York City. Please wear loose, comfortable clothing.

Faculty

MFA Theatre

Contemporary Collaborative Performance

Component—Year

This course will provide a critical and supportive forum for the development of new works of original performance, focusing primarily on where current dance and theatre combinations find inspiration. In the first semester, students will explore contemporary theatre-building techniques and methodologies from Dada to Judson Church and beyond. The majority of time will be devoted to lab work, where students will create their own short performance pieces through a multidisciplinary approach. Students will be asked to devise original theatre pieces that utilize methods such as solo forms, viewpoints, chance operations, and creations from nontheatrical sources. In addition to the laboratory aspect of the class, a number of plays, essays, and artists* manifestos will be discussed. In the second semester, students will collaborate on a single evening-length work, utilizing theatrical and nontheatrical sources in an attempt to speak to our cultural moment. Please note: The second semester will require additional developmental/rehearsal time outside of class. In addition to classwork, there will be several opportunities to visit rehearsals and performances of professional theatre and dance in New York City. Open only to first-year graduate students and required for all first-year Theatre graduate students. This class meets once a week for two hours.

Faculty

Contemporary Collaborative Performance: Grad Projects I

Component—Year

This course will provide a critical and supportive forum for the development of new works of original performance, focusing primarily on where current dance and theatre combinations find inspiration. In the first semester, students will explore contemporary theatre-building techniques and methodologies from Dada to Judson Church and beyond. The majority of time will be devoted to lab work, where students will create their own short performance pieces through a multidisciplinary approach. Students will be asked to devise original theatre pieces that utilize methods such as solo forms, viewpoints, chance operations, and creations from nontheatrical sources. In addition to the laboratory aspect of the class, a number of plays, essays, and artists’ manifestos will be discussed. In the second semester, students will collaborate on a single evening-length work, utilizing theatrical and nontheatrical sources in an attempt to speak to our cultural moment. Please note: The second semester will require additional developmental/rehearsal time outside of class. In addition to class work, there will be several opportunities to visit rehearsals and performances of professional theatre and dance in New York City.

Faculty

Grad Lab

Component—Year

Taught by a rotating series of Sarah Lawrence faculty and guest artists, this course focuses on developing the skills needed for a wide variety of techniques for the creation and development of new work in theatre. Ensemble acting, movement, design and fabrication, playwriting, devised work, and music performance are all explored. The class is a forum for workshops, master classes, and open rehearsals, with a focus on the development of critical skills. In addition, students in Grad Lab are expected to generate a new piece of theatre to be performed each month for the Sarah Lawrence community. These performances may include graduate and undergraduate students alike.

Faculty

Graduate Lab

Component—Year

Taught by a rotating series of Sarah Lawrence faculty and guest artists, this course focuses on developing the skills needed for a wide variety of techniques for the creation and development of new work in theatre. Ensemble acting, movement, design and fabrication, playwriting, devised work, and music performance are all explored. The class is a forum for workshops, master classes, and open rehearsals, with a focus on the development of critical skills. In addition, students in Grad Lab are expected to generate a new piece of theatre to be performed each month for the Sarah Lawrence community. These performances may include graduate and undergraduate students alike.

Faculty

New Genres: I EXPECT YOU TO DIE—Algorithms and Performance

Component—Fall

I EXPECT YOU TO DIE is a special collaboration between New Media Lab and Theatre. The course will explore the algorithm as an expression of mind, a type of consciousness, a method by which we unpack and reorganize research and source material, as well as utilize as a set of rules that the performance can follow. In this inaugural version, Ferraiolo and Neumann will have students mine various James Bond films with lines of inquiry into the cultural, sociopolitical, artistic/aesthetic, and philosophical structures found there. Blending code, video mapping, and performance, students will then write a series of algorithms that “remix” the scripts, visuals, gestures, and narrative elements of three classic Bond films to create an entirely new stage version of the Bond villains and their eternal struggle against 007. The class will meet once a week for the first eight weeks, then add four evenings and one daytime weekend for three more weeks as it shifts into a rehearsal process, culminating in two performances.

Faculty