This week meet Tara Taylor. Tara is a longtime theatre educator and works at the school district level in Virginia to advocate for the performing arts.
What’s a show that inspires you? (explain away!)
I know it might be popular answer right now but Hadestown. It was such a creative and powerful piece of work with some mesmerizing technical moments. I also love that it was conceived, created, and developed by two fierce and inspiring women!
What’s one of your happiest moments in theatre?
One of my happiest moments in theatre was when I saw Big River on Broadway, which was produced by Deaf West. In Act Two, there was the big reprise of Waiting for the Light to Shine. As the music swelled and it came time for the climactic last chorus, everything went silent and the entire ensemble completed the remainder of the song in American Sign Language. The performers were passionate and the movement of their hands was audible. It was such a powerful and accessible moment. I remember the stranger sitting next to me grabbed my arm in that moment and whispered, 'Oh my God...'—it was pretty darn magical.
What’s the biggest ‘fail’ or goof you’ve seen on stage? (do tell the story)
I saw a preview performance of IF/Then at the National Theatre in Washington, DC starring Idina Menzel. They had a turn table, and each time it rotated a quarter or half turn, you would get a different setting. The music started, the turn table rotated, and it got stuck. The lighting spot came up on a vacant set, and Idina started singing her number upstage where she was seated (waiting to rotate). Production stopped the show as they worked to correct the problem while Idina came to the front of the stage and chatted and joked with the audience for about 10 minutes. When it was ready to go, she jumped back into place and resumed the show, completely in character. I’m so glad I got to see that 'goof'!
Why do you love theatre?
There are so many reasons but I think one of the biggest reasons I love theatre is because of stories and connection. Theatre is an artform that allows us to understand various perspectives, personal journeys, and contexts through storytelling. It brings together a complete group of people as an audience to have a shared emotional experience (connection) without ever having to say a word to each other. Lastly, it is a way to change an opinion, belief system, or mind by an empathetic experience rather than having someone wave their finger or try to convince you...I knew I just couldn’t give one reason.
Theatre is for...
In my role as Theatre and Dance Educational Specialist for Fairfax County Public Schools, I support and advocate for theatre to be available for all students in their K-12 education. As I have had opportunities to visit and research theatre education programs across the United States and abroad, I've found that many districts and/or schools don’t have theatre courses, teachers, or offerings. I believe that every student should have the opportunity to take a theatre class and/or be a part of a performing ensemble or production team. In a world that has become more connected but increasingly disconnected, theatre provides essential skills and experiences that our kids need. Theatre education and experiences can change a kid’s life, give them a reason to come to school—it did for me. I would like to support all kids having that same opportunity in their K-12 public education.
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