I approach theater from a community-based arts perspective gained during studies with Cornerstone Theater Company, Sojourn Theatre Ensemble, Dell’Arte International Theater Company, and Theater of the Oppressed in various settings. As an undergraduate student at Reed College, I designed the first theatre/anthropology major in the school’s history, including a thesis production based on interviews about the intersections between gender and mental health. These experiences left me with a commitment to ethical, honest portrayal of the complexities and contradictions present in all stories.
In the winter of 2009, I traveled to Indonesia with Dell’Arte International on a grant from Reed College, where I studied dance, shadow puppetry and the ways performance and community are intertwined in Balinese communities. The experience profoundly affected the ways I think about art and its importance in building resilient, cohesive communities. In Bali, I saw performance used and respected as a healing ritual for performers and artists as well as their audiences. That is a lesson I continue to carry with me.
As a director, I inhabit a grey area – rarely acting as a performer, but striving to create non-hierarchical ensembles whose work is honest, raw and collaborative. Working often with new performers, I use a combination of Theater of the Oppressed, Viewpoints and script analysis exercises to allow new performers to access and learn from the inner lives of their characters. This work is about the transformative process of learning from another’s stories as much as it is about the final production. I believe that basing our work in respectful, honest and complex portrayal of characters is the essential first step in creating performances that accurately portray the intricacies and struggles of human existence.