Mariah Joyce

Chief Copy Editor

Assistant Professor of Theater and Dance Jimmy A. Noriega has recently been named the recipient of the Association for Theater in Higher Education’s (ATHE) Prize for Innovative Teaching. The award was presented at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) in early January.

Noriega has worked to provide unconventional learning opportunities for his students both inside and outside of the classroom. In addition to trips he has taken with his students to Mexico City and Lima, Peru, Noriega said he makes a point “to use [his] connections with Latin American and Latina/o theatre artists to bring guests to campus to work directly or via Skype with [his] students.”

During the summer of 2012, Noriega traveled to Peru for five weeks with six of his students. While there, students were able to observe how theatre professionals conduct research outside of the classroom. Noriega commented, “I wanted our experience in Peru to be as academically rigorous and structured as I could to demonstrate to the students how work in the classroom and outside could be unified to create the best learning experience for all.” The group took a hands-on approach, he explained,  “conducting … workshops and laboratory exercises in parks, streets, and parking lots. We also set one important goal for ourselves: to devise and perform our own theatre piece, based on our experiences and lessons.”

This original piece, Encuentro: Peru!!, was produced and directed by Noriega, and ultimately performed at four venues in Peru, including the Metropolitan Museum of Lima — one of the largest museums in the capital. The play was so successful that the group was then invited to perform it at the UNESCO/International Theatre Institute World Festival of Theatre Schools, which was held in Romania from Sep. 2-11, 2012. Noriega and his students formed the official US delegation, and were one of 19 groups from around the world. Furthermore, Noriega was chosen as one of five professors to teach a master class for all festival participants. Noriega based the master class on The Physical Text course he teaches at Wooster, “as a way of showing my students the ways our own lessons can move beyond borders and work with other theatre artists around the world.”

Noriega’s most recent project (in collaboration with his students) is the play Women of Ciudad Juárez, which he will be directing at nine different universities this spring. In preparation for this production, he traveled to Mexico City with one of his IS students in order to interview artists who work as in small traveling theatre companies in Latin America.

Ultimately, Noriega said one of his main accomplishments has been “expanding my students’ understanding of the ways that theatre and performance can create positive social change in the world … For me, being in the theatre can’t just be about fame and ego — the people I work with in Latin America have used their art to make their communities better places, and often times this was a very risky and dangerous thing for them to do.”