Teacher considered for Tony award

Isabel Vayser, Staff Writer

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When she heard she was being considered for a Tony award, Julie Ann Robinson, theatre director at Glenbrook North, was shocked and thrilled. Robinson is a candidate for the Excellence in Theatre Education category, which is an award she had known about but had not considered herself eligible for in the near future.

“You get so ‘tunnel vision’ about every project you’re working on that it’s hard to step back and see the growth and the experiences of the students over the years,” said Robinson. “This is really an opportunity for everybody to feel good about the program that they’ve been part of.”

Pam Wigley, assistant dean for communications in the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University, said in a phone interview that eligible candidates must teach K-12 theatre arts in the United States. To win the award, a nomination team comprised of students or colleagues must submit three letters of recommendation, paperwork and a video that conveys the essence of the teacher.

The nomination team was led by Chad Davidson, instructional supervisor of fine arts, who had tried to keep Robinson’s submission a secret at first, but decided to tell her once he needed help putting it together.

According to Wigley, the award was created in 2014 to promote arts education and will be presented to the winner at the Tony Awards ceremony, which is scheduled for June 10, 2018. The award is presented in partnership with Carnegie Mellon, the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League.

“What [the judges are] really looking for is how these teachers have worked to positively affect their students’ lives.

“It’s, ‘Why is this candidate so compelling?’” said Wigley. “‘How has he or she gone above and beyond?’”

Senior Maddy Chemers said she has interacted with Robinson as both a teacher and a director. Chemers has been in several of Robinson’s drama classes, but first worked with her as a director during the 2017 fall play.

“I happen to have drama 2-3B, and I wake up on B days, and I’m so excited to actually come to school because I can’t wait to be in [Robinson’s] class,” Chemers said.

Robinson said she views her nomination as a statement about the talent and opportunities in the GBN community.

“Excellence in theatre education does not come just from going through the motions,” said Robinson. “It’s not just putting on some little high school plays. You have to insist upon a disciplined excellent process day in and day out. It’s revision. It’s just like English class. It’s looking at the piece over and over again and nitpicking those tiny little specific moments so you get the desired effect.”

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Teacher considered for Tony award