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Seattle: The Prologue

July 26, 2017

 

I've been in Seattle now for half the summer, and it's gone incredibly fast. If you had told me last summer that I would be working at one of the top youth theatre companies in the country, I would have been dubious, but, here I am.

 

A Teaching Artist at Seattle Children's Theatre.

 

And not only that, I am a teaching artist for a partner program between one of the top Children's Theatres and one of the top Science Museums in the country... Amazing organizations with incredible missions making an impact on their community, locally and nationally. 

 

I've discovered many wonderful amazing and inspiring, people, places, and ideas. All of which I intend to share with you over the next few blog posts. 

 

But for now, I'll begin with a little background. A Prologue.

 

Theatre is a huge part of my life, more specifically, youth and family theatre. Over the past 17 years I have observed, explored, taken risks, tried new things, and learned by experience while founding and running Dare to Dream Theatre. 

 

I've had successes. I've made mistakes. 

 

But that is life. Take a chance. Do the best you can with the resources you have available to you. And learn from your mistakes. 

 

I admit to my shortcomings and mistakes, and more importantly, I learn from them. 

 

Near the end of of my second year at Wisconsin Lutheran College, my college adviser and theater professor asked me "What do you want to do this summer?" I was hoping to stay on campus and just generally help out in the Fine Arts Building like I had the summer before.

 

So I thought about it... but it didn't take long. I knew what I would do.

 

Theatre had made an impact on me and I wanted to see if it would do the same for other kids. Professor Nelson directed me to look into a summer teaching position at First Stage Theatre Academy in Milwaukee but she also challenged me to really think about how I would want to explore that interest further.

 

So I sent an e-mail to the principal at St Croix Lutheran High School in West St Paul (where I graduated in 1999) asking if there might be a possibility that I could offer a camp or workshop for middle school kids there in the summer. I didn't expect a reply, but within 3 weeks I was meeting with him and pitching the idea. 

 

It was the whirlwind that catapulted my career interests. 

 

I spent part of that summer as a Summer Staff Teaching Artist at First Stage, and also offered a week long class back home in Minnesota. 

 

And I discovered my passion. As my roommate said while I was deliberating what to call the program "Why don't you just call it Dare to Dream, because isn't that what you are doing?"

 

So I did. 

 

I dove right in. That fall I began to develop "The Actor in You Series" with the help of a couple other theater and education students. We offered Saturday workshops in the Black Box Theatre at WLC, and the series became very popular and continued through the rest of my time at WLC.

 

During this time I also developed a theatre camp class "Imagination On Stage" and "In the Spotlight" as part of the WLC Summer College for Kids which also continued beyond my graduation in 2003. 

 

I had found my mission. 

 

But I didn't take the route most people do. I didn't do the internships or apprenticeships. I didn't apply to as many theater companies as I could. I was too busy with Dare to Dream. I developed programming based on trial and error. 

 

I learned by fire.

 

Experience may be the best teacher, but she is certainly not the easiest one!

 

(Honestly, this is not the path I would suggest for young artists. Although I learned alot, I learned it the hard way. As I learned, I made mistakes. I made choices that caused frustration and challenges for myself and the people around me. Had I spent a couple years working at an established company before focusing so much on running my own, I could have avoided much heartache and challenge for all involved. )

 

I attended attended as many National Festivals and Conventions such at One Theater World, the Junior Theater Festival, the National Performing Arts Festival, and other regional theater conferences that helped build my network and allowed me opportunities to take workshops that explored current topics in the industry. But I still felt that I needed more. 

 

And that brings me to Seattle. 

 

Well, not directly to Seattle. While teaching a 3 week summer drama class at WLC in 2011, Professor Nelson brought up the topic of Grad School. So, I looked into it...and started applying to the 7 schools in the country that had MFA programs in Theater for Youth. 

 

However, that path is extremely competitive. At each grad school interview I attended, there were over 35 candidates interviewing for no more than 2 spots that became available every 3 years. I was among the top 4 candidates at my top choice school for two acceptance cycles. 

 

Being so close so often is discouraging. So, I was completely thrilled when on a whim - prompted by a visit to my sister living in Seattle Washington last December - I applied for and was hired into a unique position at Seattle Children's Theatre 2017 Discoveries Day Camps. It was actually a partner program between Seattle Children's Theater and the Pacific Science Center. 

 

What could be better than a COMBINED Science and Theatre Program? I will never claim to be a scientist, but these two disciplines could not fit together any better! (More on this in a later blog post)

 

And THAT brings me to where I am. 

 

I look forward to sharing the things I have discovered, the people and ideas that are inspiring me, and the adventures of my Seattle Summer.

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