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Much Ado About Theater Education: Joy Lamberton, Ed.M.'04

Joy LambertonIt was, at most, a half-minute passage in a light scene from Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, but for Joy Lamberton, Ed.M.'04  and for Iris Smith-d'Agincourt, the seventh-grade actor she was directing  it was as crucial as any more notable passage in the play.

"Iris was one of the clowns and she had to give her entrance onto the stage as much comic effect as possible," recalls Lamberton. "We discovered that she could do that by entering through an unexpected door and making a funny, self-conscious face, as if realizing she'd made a mistake. It didn't work the first night, and I think that really worried her, but she adjusted and got huge laughs the next two nights."

To hear about Lamberton's myriad activities as a teaching artist, corporate trainer, actor, mother, and alumni activist, you suspect that she somehow finds the time to pay that kind of attention to the details of every given project.

When she isn't directing a play as a contracted teaching artist at the Fayerweather Street School in Cambridge, Mass. under the auspices of the Playhouse Education nonprofit that she founded and owns, she might be doing any number of things. She might be helping Fayerweather students master spoken monologues related to a lesson on the civil rights movement. (She coached Iris on the composition and delivery of a monologue from the point of view of Jackie Robinson about to play his first racial barrier-breaking baseball game, for example.) She might be planning and directing four-week summer-camp projects in StageCraft and Playing Shakespeare for the Belmont Day School, also under the auspices of Playhouse Education.

She might be traveling to other metropolitan regions to train camp counselors ("not to lose patience and shake the kids!") as a project manager for True to Life; developing new education programs for the Boston-area Orfeo Group theater company; working on the steering committee of NECAP (the New England Consortium of Artist-educator Professionals) to plan both an annual conference and her own contribution to it; or doing voiceovers for commercials. ("And someday soon," she says on being reminded of her comic/romantic role in the Eliot Norton Award-winning 2005 production of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia at the Public Theatre's outdoor stage on the Charles River in Boston, she might be "getting back to stage acting as well.")

As if that weren't enough to keep the mother of an energetic toddler busy already, Lamberton is also doing what she can to "continue the conversation" she's been stimulating among many of the Ed School's Arts in Education (AIE) Program's graduates about the sometimes undervalued work of the arts educator and the need to incorporate the arts in education.

In the fall of 2007, Lamberton and fellow AIE graduate Andrea Sachdeva, Ed.M.'07, cofounded the CtC group (Continuing the Conversation) as a forum for the professional-development conferences and networking activities of those alumni. It started out small, with informal gatherings on the HGSE campus, grew to include similar gatherings of like-minded artist-educators in other metropolitan regions, gathered considerable steam in a large, weekend-long conference of in the fall of 2009, and now seems to have generated the kind of momentum that could take it  and its participants  in unexpected directions.