BROOKLYN COLLEGE
DEPARTMENT OF THEATER

 

Rose Burnett Bonczek
Professor, Program Head, BFA in Acting

Rose Burnett Bonczek (Brooklyn College)

rbonczek@brooklyn.cuny.edu
315 Whitehead Hall
718-951-5000 x2768

Full Bio


Gone In 60 Seconds (Brooklyn College)

Ensemble Theatre Making (Brooklyn College)

One Minute Plays (Brooklyn College)

 

MFA, Directing, Brooklyn College
BA, Directing, SUNY–New Paltz

Professor Bonczek was recently named a Full Professor of Theater, is program head of the BFA in Acting program, and has directed professionally and in educational theater for over 35 years.  She specializes in directing, improvisation, and theater pedagogy, and recently co-authored Ensemble Theatre Making: A Practical Guide (Routledge Press, UK) with colleague David Storck. Focusing on ensemble and the collaborative process as a foundation in her teaching and practice, she received the Clare Tow Distinguished Teacher Award in 2009-2010. Her students have gone on to perform in theater, film, and television (Boardwalk Empire, The Good Wife, Blue Bloods, Person of Interest, etc.), and are also working with theater companies and private organizations in the US and abroad as theater devisers, teaching artists, and drama therapists.

Professor Bonczek is Festival Director of Gi60 (Gone in 60 Seconds): The International One Minute Play Festival: Live US Edition (www.gi60.blogspot.com), an international collaboration between the UK and US presented in association with Screaming Media Productions, Leeds University, and York College of the UK. Gi60 is the world’s first international downloadable one minute play festival. Each year 100 original one minute plays are selected for production (50 in the US and 50 in the UK), using a core company of actors and directors that push the boundaries of performance onto multiple platforms. The live festival is filmed, edited to single play formats, and uploaded onto the Gi60 Channel on YouTube for viewing. Gi60 is dedicated to supporting and providing opportunities for playwrights from around the world. Since 2003, Professor Bonczek and artistic director Steve Ansell have gathered a global community of playwrights from culturally and socially diverse backgrounds, developed international collaborations, and have used digital technology to create wider access to theater for a worldwide audience. To date, Gi60 has produced over 1,000 original short plays written by playwrights from over twenty countries, and all 50 of the United States. Gi60 plays have been featured on BBC Big Screen throughout the UK, on US television (Tosh on Comedy Central), and featured on many web programs.

Other directing credits include the premiere of Lily Rose by Aurora Stewart de Peña for the Ghost Story Festival at the Viaduct Theatre in England, Sisters for Boomerang Theatre in NY, and Pygmalion Off Broadway (Zagat’s Best Revival); Regional credits include Two Faced with Lynn Adams at The Egg in Albany (later toured), fourteen productions for Synergy Ensemble Theatre of Long Island, and productions at Berkshire Theatre Festival, Baltimore Theatre Project, and River Arts Repertory in Woodstock, NY. At River Arts, Professor Bonczek was a resident director, and director of their New Works Series working with playwrights such as Len Jenkin, Constance Congdon, Mary Gallagher, and Janusz Glowacki.  College and university productions include The Rimers of Eldritch, Rough Magic, Take Me Out, Savage in Limbo, The Laramie Project, and The Crucible, as well as the annual BFA Actors Industry Showcase.

Professor Bonczek is a member of the League of Professional Theater Women and a board member of Barefoot Theatre Company, New York.


"My personal purpose and passion fiercely lies in the belief that ensemble principles strengthen my directing, teaching, programming and service. Ensemble is the bonded group identity that is created when a group of individuals come together and commit to serving a larger goal and its needs. There must be a willingness to sacrifice what the individual might want in their shining moment, in order to give the ensemble, and the goal, its shining moment. It requires a willingness to collaborate, to commit to the “yes, and…”** philosophy, to face personal fears, take risks, play as a team, and for each individual to make their unique contribution to the goal. The ensemble then becomes more than a sum of individuals: a new entity is created, and individual capabilities are heightened with the support of the ensemble. This serves the furthest potential of any and all endeavors.

My teaching, research, scholarship, creative and professional activities are all invested in this exploration of group behavior, and its limitless positive potential. Left alone and unattended, human dynamics could possibly result in strong bonds, or they could result in unhealthy competition and conflict.  I’ve found that consciously and strategically taking actions to apply ensemble principles to a group creates ideal conditions that strengthen any endeavor I may lead: whether directing professionally or on campus, teaching at Brooklyn College or abroad, or selecting incoming students for a new cohort class.

So why is this better? (A production will still happen without it, the class will still have students enrolled...) It’s better because we take greater creative risks when our focus is on the ensemble and the goal instead of our personal fears. We learn more, and risk the imagined consequences of our mistakes more, when we’re a part of a group’s collective investment in creating or learning. We realize more of our individual potential knowing that the ensemble "has our back," and will support us in our choices and contributions. So:
— if we experience less judgment and fear because of the support and structure of ensemble,
— if we discover more about our skills and our potential within the safe environment of ensemble,
— if our ability to take creative and intellectual risks (that will enhance learning and artistic growth) is strengthened because the imagined consequences of being "ostracized," ridiculed or shamed has been removed,
Then why wouldn’t you apply ensemble practice to everything you do? Exactly.

I’ve been a theater director for over 35 years, directing professionally in New York, regionally, in community theaters and in educational theater. In every production, I’ve specifically created ensemble in the cast, and in the creative teams. The bonds empower the actors, designers and crew to bring their best work forward because of the trusted support that surrounds them. Everyone’s creative work is elevated because of those bonds; it’s easier to take creative and personal risks when you know you have unconditional support from the ensemble and director. It makes for stronger storytelling, and a positive and supportive environment. For the majority of the plays I’ve been hired to direct, whether Berkshire Theatre Festival or The New School or Theater Project of Baltimore, it was because someone saw a production I’d directed and was specifically struck by the strong sense of ensemble they witnessed on the stage. They wanted me to bring that to their production, their school or their company.
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