Jocelyn Greene Q+A
Jocelyn Greene founded Child’s Play NY in 2007 and is passionate about bringing theater programming to young people. Learn more about where she comes from and what she loves to do on weekends.
How did you get your start?
My parents are both actors and instilled in me a love of theater and playing from the womb! I was born in Brooklyn and I have such fond memories of my early years here. When I was four I spent a year traveling with them around the country when they toured a play and then at five we moved to LA! I used to accompany my dad to auditions, and while we were in traffic on the 405 he taught me Shakespeare soliloquies. As I was learning to read, I would run lines with my mom to help her memorize for whatever play she was in! They continue to work in TV and theater and I’m really lucky to have been on the receiving end of all that love-for-career and artistry.
What were some highlights from your training?
I have a degree in English from Wesleyan University in English and a Masters in Acting from NYU. I trained as a teacher working with companies that brought Shakespeare to underserved kids in LA and NY. I was lucky enough to train under some real masters – both as an actor and as a teacher.
What are some of your favorite things to do when you aren’t teaching?
I love listening to my husband, (he’s actor Glenn Fleshler) read Harry Potter aloud to our son!
I really enjoy traveling upstate on long weekends and in the summer. My favorite towns are Phoenicia and Ancramdale. Farm stands, walking around in creeks and catching fireflies is kinda my ultimate bliss.
I also love a good yoga class, lunch dates in the city with girlfriends, and my new bookclub! Time for self-care and doing activities outside of being a parent and teacher is always challenging to find, but so ideal!
How did you get interested in teaching?
I guess it started with my crazy respect for the teachers in my own life. I’ve been lucky enough to be directed and taught by amazing people. Also, while I was in middle school, my dad started his own acting classes. I could see first-hand how much gratification he got out of transmitting his knowledge and passion onto his students.
The summers between my college years at Wesleyan, I got a grant to work with Shakespeare Festival LA. I worked with these brilliant inner-city kids on their own adaptations of Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet alongside social workers, playwrights and other actors. Through really intense sessions we created original pieces based on their life experiences and wove in the Shakespeare text too.
I did other work at Oddfellows Playhouse in Connecticut and Epic Theater in New York. While getting my MFA in Acting at NYU, I also helped the students at Harvey Milk High School develop their own solo shows. So all while I was training myself as an actor, I was also training myself as a teacher – and in these very high-stakes circumstances. I learned from serious masters about play and text development and took it all very seriously!
What was the most unique acting class you ever took?
When I was 20, I lived in Spain for a year and studied contemporary theater for a year with a Madrid-based company. It was such a phenomenal way into the language and the culture – I also made lifelong friends from this experience.
What was your first job?
Aside from babysitting and selling dried fruit at the mall as a teenager? I was hired, right out of grad school, to be in The Public Theater: Shakespeare in the Park production of As You Like It. That was great. And then I was in their next play, Ruby Sunrise so I got my Equity card by working at The Public which felt stupendous because I so respect that theater and Joe Papp’s founding mission.
What are you reading right now?
I like to keep a balance of some kind of great escapist novel and then something more in the child development sphere that can inspire me for my blog – Child’s Play in Action! I’m also always reading something to Nathaniel and lately as he’s getting older those books have gotten so good too!
Here’s what’s on my nightstand:
Circe by Madeline Miller
The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud by Meghan Cox Gurdon
Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke (that’s the one I’m reading to Nathaniel!)
Viewpoints by Anne Bogart
What’s your favorite game to play at home?
Nathaniel and I have been really into the improv game “What Are You Doing?” lately! We play it even walking places, and in the downtime moments. Other favorites are also Hands Through and Silly Chins!
What’s a fun date?
I love the good old-fashioned dinner and a show! At any given moment, we have friends in a play on Broadway or off, so having a meal, seeing the performance and then hanging for a drink to rehash and reconnect is a neat night out. I also really enjoy the multi-tiered Brooklyn date, drinks, a meal and a movie at BAM or Alamo. But you know, I’m also obsessed with Wegmans and so even a day-date to go grocery shopping can be super fun too!
What’s your favorite thing about Child’s Play NY right now?
After 10 years, I just feel so lucky that I get to go to work and do something that I love. Each day has so many facets to it and for that I’m grateful! In the mornings I’m often working with Emily (Child’s Play NY’s awesome Operations Manager) on new ways to get the word out about a program we are developing, like our Shakespeare residency or a show for the pre-k set. Sometimes I’m chatting with a parent about an upcoming birthday party, or traveling to a new school we are partnering with. I also love supporting the stupendous teachers I hire. From reading their lesson plans to visiting their classes to having special professional development days, I love knowing the program is getting even better in their talented hands. Three days a week, I get to direct and connect to the roots of the company in the first place. I really get fueled up working with our students on great literature – watching them make these great stories come to life.