by Lisa Mills Walters, Published March 16, 2012
Graduate student Amanda Grazioli is the winner of the 2012 Communication, Media, and Theatre Arts Award for Achievement in Arts, having earned this recognition based on her outstanding contributions to her department.
Grazioli grew up in Massachusetts and earned her undergraduate degree in Theatre Arts at Boston College. After moving to Michigan about five years ago, she worked as an apprentice at the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea and then as a fundraiser at University of Michigan. Wanting to work more with actual theatre, she quit her job and enrolled in EMU's Applied Theatre for the Young program. She chose EMU because she knew people who had studied here and it was the only university that offered this particular master's program. She received her master's degree in December and currently lives in Ann Arbor.
Grazioli indicated that she had worked with many very good instructors, citing Professor Jessica "Decky" Alexander as her advisor and someone who taught her improvisation and community-based "devised" theatre, Grazioli's area of interest.
She also cited Dr. Anita Rich as someone with whom she has studied and who directs the Six Figures Playback Company, of which Grazioli is a part. This interactive theatre celebrates stories; in fact, it's often called "theatre of neighbors, not strangers." With this group, Rich and Grazioli have collaborated on several projects, including recent work with students at West Middle School in Ypsilanti. Also with Professor Rich, Grazioli leads theatre workshops at the Woodland Center Correctional Facility.
All of faculty in the Theatre for the Young program have been incredibly supportive of her, Grazioli said, citing Professors Patricia Zimmer and Chris Tanner, in addition to Alexander and Rich. They have offered great mentorship, giving her what she called "an amazing toolkit" and providing feedback.
Grazioli was unaware of the award until she learned she had won it, so she was "really surprised and honored," mentioning the many other students in the program who do "really amazing work." She said it was nice to know that her mentors valued her work, and that "those you respect, respect you."
Grazioli plans to work at the University of Michigan with a colleague as assistant director with their Educational Theatre Company. Here she will continue to learn, test her skills, and work with college students. She indicates that she is really passionate about issue-based theatre and theatre for social change. Whether she works with university- or community-based theatre in the future makes no difference to her; her goal is simply to "make art that makes a difference."
At the Graduate Research Fair on March 26, Grazioli will give an oral presentation entitled "Moving Forward by Playing Back: Using Drama to Unpack the Experience of Joblessness" in the Student Center auditorium at around 4 p.m. She is the third presenter in one of the 3:30 p.m. sessions.