For more than six decades, the Fulbright Program has served as the U.S. government’s premiere international exchange program intended to foster mutual understanding and cultural communication between the people of the United States and the people of over 155 foreign countries. One of the most prestigious of scholarships offered by the national government, the Fulbright award has facilitated the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills among the world’s many institutions of higher education. Each year, a select number of exceptional scholars are chosen as the recipients of this award. Robyn Quick, professor in TU’s Department of Theatre Arts, is among the most recent honorees.
Quick’s areas of expertise include intercultural theatre, new Russian drama, the role of women in theatre, and dramaturgy in higher education. Her Fulbright award will allow her to integrate these interests into a teaching curriculum focused upon dramaturgy, which she will apply to a group of Russian theatre students enrolled at the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow. Over the past few decades, largely within Canada and the United States, the role of the dramaturg has expanded considerably along with the increasing importance of contemporary playwriting. The dramaturg functions to contextualize the world of a play; establish connections among the text and the participants within a production; offer opportunities for playwrights; generate projects and programs; and encourage discussion about theatrical projects within their communities. Quick intends to utilize her upcoming opportunity to share some aspects of the dramaturg’s process with the Russian theatrical artists with whom she will be working.
Of special interest are the circumstances in which Robyn Quick received her award from the Fulbright Scholar Program. From 2009-2010, Towson University’s Department of Theatre Arts hosted a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence from Russia named Yury Urnov. Urnov’s objective was the introduction of American audiences to the social and political experiences of emerging young playwrights in post-Soviet Russia. Robyn Quick initiated and coordinated this endeavor, known as the New Russia Drama Project, the result of a collaboration between the Center for International Theatre Development and Towson’s Department of the Theatre Arts. In light of this venture’s success, the Fulbright Scholar Program contacted Quick and invited her to propose a project idea for possible funding. She decided upon teaching American theatrical projects to students in Moscow, a proposal that was ultimately selected for funding via a Fulbright award. To be sought out for such an opportunity is atypical, and a tremendous honor.
Usually, instead of being offered such an opportunity, one must seek out funding for a proposed project. Quick is no stranger to the process of searching and applying for funding. Having been met with both acceptance and declination for past proposals, she has advice to offer anyone considering or preparing a project proposal. “Utilizing all available resources is crucial,” she says. “There are services available on campus, many of which are provided by the Office of Sponsored Programs & Research, that will assist scholars in figuring out how to best articulate their funding requests. The OSPR staff has had considerable experience in assisting researchers in proposal preparation and can offer guidance on all aspects of the application process.”
When it comes to applying for monetary support, Quick advises faculty members to carefully identify all components of a project that interest different funding sources. An individual component may appeal to a specific funding source based on that organization’s research specialization. It is therefore possible to seek multiple sources of funding for individual components of a proposal.
It is especially important not to be discouraged by declination, she says. “Look at each rejection as a learning opportunity by carefully reviewing all recommendations made and integrating the advice received into subsequent submissions. Depending on the guidelines of the institutions from which funding is being sought, applicants may wish to consider submitting their proposals early. In some cases, early submission will allow for feedback that may be incorporated into proposals before the final deadline. To maximize the chances for success, be sure to take advantage of as many opportunities for guidance and peer review as possible.”
Quick intends to write at least one article about her upcoming experiences in Russia. Her time overseas will allow her to further explore and develop her dramaturgic interests through conversation with Russia’s theatrical specialists. This acquired knowledge she will be able to apply locally so as to further enrich the university’s program for the theatre arts.
Perhaps now more than ever, facilitating communication and cooperation between different societies and nations is of undeniable importance. The arts can serve as common ground on which cultural relationships are founded and nurtured. Quick’s Fulbright award will enable both her and the campus community at large to lay the foundation for future efforts at collaboration and artistic exchange across international borders.
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