By Jamie Haft and Arnaldo López

The Scholars' Circle is collaborating with Roadside Theater and Pregones Theater on the Appalachian-Puerto Rican musical Betsy!. The Circle is: integrating this musical play and related materials into their pedagogy, classroom experience, and spring 2015 syllabi; bringing students to a live Betsy! performance in Manhattan’s theater district; participating in live and online conversations with the artists; and generating supplemental study and interpretive materials.

A Fresh Perspective on Documentation, Communications, and Archiving

The Circle is developing priorities for documenting, communicating, and archiving the learning from the Roadside-Pregones ongoing 21-year intercultural artistic collaboration. Goals of this artist-scholar partnership include:

  • Develop high-quality multimedia to communicate the complexity of intercultural collaboration and play development. Make plain and accessible the values, vision, and practice that inform it.
  • Develop content with scholars, not just for scholars.
  • Create and share in-process materials that make the creative decisions transparent.
  • Advance cross-sector communication to expand the audience (for example, reaching beyond the silo of community-based theater).
  • Foster public dialogue around significant topics in Betsy!: bringing more reality to this country’s story about itself, including our complicated DNA; the under-reported role of indentured immigrants; and the permeable borders between rural and urban culture.

Activities and Timeline

  • ONGOING DIALOGUE: The Circle is discussing contextual narrative and audiovisual materials drawn from prior moments in the development of Betsy!, including Jonathan Bradshaw’s findings from interviews about ways to create content relevant for scholars; photos and music; and a two-part Betsy! essay by anthropologist Maribel Álvarez. Circle scholars are swapping ideas and sample syllabi for teaching students about Betsy!.
  • EVENTS AND MEETINGS: On Thursday, February 12th, Pregones and Roadside will host a conversation, Let's Talk, in Manhattan, where Circle scholars will interact with the artists. In April, an in-person meeting of the group is being planned.
  • CONTENT CREATION AND SCHOLARSHIP: The group is developing a March Blog Series for HowlRound/Café Onda. Scholars Circle members are looking for opportunities to colaborate with Roadside and Pregones to publish scholarship about the companies.
  • PERFORMANCES: Scholars Circle members are bringing students to the show. Click here for the performance schedule.

National Collaborators

Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life is collaborating with Roadside, Pregones, and the Scholars Circle to share the project's learning nationally. A consortium of 100 colleges from across the country, Imagining America advances publicly engaged scholarship that draws on arts, humanities, and design. 

Get Involved

Join the Betsy! Facebook Event page for regular updates. Contact Co-Chairs Arnaldo López at Pregones/PRTT ([email protected] / 718-585-1202) and Jamie Haft at Roadside and Imagining America ([email protected] / 315-345-3931) for more information.

Cite This

Jamie Haft and Arnaldo López. “BETSY! Scholars' Circle .” https://roadside.org. May 26, 2015. https://roadside.org/asset/betsy-scholars-circle.

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