In March of 2014 Paul was awarded a $12,000 grant from the Spark Fund for Early Learning at the Sprout Fund to create First Take: Mobile Media Classroom. Centered around 25 iPad Minis and supporting technologies, First Take is an art education resource that offers low-cost, high-quality media art making for students of all ages. Offered through Pittsburgh area arts organizations, the program is a collaborative effort between Paul and Dreams of Hope, which acts as fiscal sponsor. First Take brings 21st Century skills and media literacy to students through the creation of short animations, videos, sounds, and images. Each arts-integrated residency partners with a school or area arts organization and exposes participants to new ways of thinking about technology and media creation. First Take invites participants take creative control of our media-saturated world.
First Take has engaged in projects with Dreams of Hope, Gateway to the Arts, The Mattress Factory, and Pittsburgh Filmmakers. The programming has been exciting and impactful. First take allowed a group of fourth graders at Benjamin Franklin Elementary school to animate their career ambitions. Young people at the East Liberty Branch of the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh created stop-motion drawings and interviews about their neighborhood. At Kelly Strayhorn’s East Liberty Celebrates MLK event, First Take invited folks of all ages to create animations inspired by the artwork of Keith Haring.
Through this programming First Take hopes to ask some large questions. Who gets to create the media that we consume? Who has access to what information and why? Many populations have no access at all. What privileges, technologies and realities impact our access to the constant flow of media-based information that seems to animate our world? The answers to these questions are as complex as the technologies they interrogate. What does seem to be true, is that media-based communications using digital video, photo, and audio are a vital part of contemporary culture. From workplace communications to public and political discourse, participation in these media is becoming more and more synonymous with participation in our Society.
Clear, formal learning about the creation of these media is rare below the postsecondary level. It is rarer still among primary educational institutions. It seems that we are still striving to decide what the primary “grammar” of these new media tools is. The First Take: Mobile Media Classroom offers a unique answer to these unknowns, grounded in art making experiences. Media-based art making a powerful way for folks to first engage with media technology.
PRYSE Academy – Animations (middle school/high school)
Foundations of Digital Filmmaking (middle school)
Adventures in Green Screen (grade school)
WT after 3 at Winchester Thurston Lower School – Video Quests (grade school)
The following are short animations made as part of the Pittsburgh Refugee Youth Summer Enrichment Academy (PRYSE). PRYSE is a three week summer camp for refugee youth between the ages of 12 and 16, organized by student volunteers from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. The purpose of the camp is to encourage confidence, academic success, creative expression, and college/career preparedness.
Paul worked as a teaching artist for City Theater’s Young Playwrights Festival. Traveling more than 1900 miles during the winter of 2013-2014, Paul lead workshops and help one-on-one coaching sessions for more than 70 students at West Greene High school in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania; Brooke High School in Wellsburg, West Virginia; and Moon Township High school in Moon Area High School in Moon, Pennsylvania.
Students went on to submit their short plays to the festival at City Theatre, where they will have a chance to have a full professional production of their play in the fall of 2014.
Collaborating with fellow playwright Luke Niebler, Paul wrote The Elements of Style, an absurdist exploration of Aristotelean cosmology and physics. Created through a writing process that was inspired by exquisite corpse games and the constrained writing of Oulipo, this play ties five independently written scenes together with the help of supernatural beings and razor wit.
Under the ingenious direction of Emily Swora, The Elements of Style is set to premiere at the Pittsburgh Pulse office on May 11th, 2014.