For forty seven years I have been a music and theater education specialist, teaching students from pre-school through university in Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, California, and Athens, Greece. During the fifteen years in Greece, I taught music and theater at the American Community Schools, and I was the artistic director of the Athen’s Children’s Theater. After our move to Omaha in 1990, I served as The Omaha Theater Company’s Director of Education until my “retirement” in 1997.
For the last several years I have been conducting theater workshops for “Very Special Arts”, now “WhyArts?”. The participants have been children in day care centers, hospitals, respite care facilities, family shelters, and child learning centers. There have been workshops for adults in adult day care centers, senior centers, and in facilities for adults with disabilities. In addition, I have worked with staff members who work in child and adult day care centers, respite care facilities, and learning centers. I have also conducted workshops for nurses who work in hospitals or hospices.
The activities in these workshops have been varied: making and performing with puppets; creative dramatics; play-making; improvisation; and music for story-telling. Creating theater is a total experience that utilizes the emotions, the body, the senses, the voice, and the imagination. In using these “actor tools”, one can develop greater awareness of the self and the world around. Thus, I believe, theater (and the other arts) can be used as a very powerful tool to create an experience that can encourage, enrich and uplift the participants. I have seen this happen in the “WhyArts?” workshops over the past years, and I believe that the arts can play a very important role in the lives of children or adults who face challenges in their lives.
My favorite workshops? I guess it would be the workshop I am involved with at the moment. Whether the organization is Campfire and the residency is a family shelter, or Munroe-Meyer working with disabled adults, or OPS programs for children, or the Children’s Respite Care Center, or Vodec or New Cassel, I am always challenged and I am always uplifted by the participants in my “WhyArts?” workshops.