Storytelling and Service

When the pandemic forced faculty members to pause in-person teaching midway through the spring semester, Gwendolyn Schwinke was determined not to let COVID-19 put a damper on creativity. But she was faced with a real challenge — how to give her acting students a meaningful outlet to practice their skills.

Schwinke is a David G. Frey Fellow in the department of dramatic art and one of two resident vocal coaches for PlayMakers Repertory Company. She was also the vocal coach for PlayMakers’ spring production of Julius Caesar, which had to shut down shortly after opening night. Many of the students in her first-year MFA class in voice and speech were also involved in that production.

“I wanted to pick a project that would serve my students’ need for career development as emerging theater artists and also fulfill a need for the community,” said Schwinke, who just completed her first year of teaching in the Professional Actor Training Program at UNC. “I love to listen to stories and podcasts, and it occurred to me that if I were stuck in a hospital, that would be something I’d want to do. I’m also always interested in finding ways to make theater available to a broader audience.”

The result is the SoundCloud album, Ram’s Tales: Folk Tales from Around the World, performed by the six actors in her class. The project was produced for UNC Children’s Hospital but is available to anyone.


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