By Tova Halpern, Artistic Director and Founder, Fresh Theatre Arts, LLC
Let me know if this sounds familiar: You are a theatre kid! Everyone knows you as the theatre kid. You star in your school’s plays, you take dance at the local community center, you audition and perform in summer stock each summer, you work at theatre camps, the Tonys are a holiday in your home, and Ben Platt is your idol! Plus, you purchase every broadway soundtrack the minute it comes out… and I mean the minute… it comes out.
Next thing you know, you’re a senior in high school and it’s time to apply for college. No Big Deal! You know exactly what you want to do because you’ve been preparing for this your whole life! You apply, audition, and get into a top-rated college where you will pursue your BA in Theatre Arts. WOW! You did it! You made it!
You approach your college experience the same way you approached all your other theatrical experiences. You join the musical theatre club, you take classes in stage management, props, Acting 101, and you start to realize that a career in the arts that might have seemed so crystal clear before now has endless possibilities. What can I do with a BA in Theatre Arts?
After graduating with my BA in Theatre Arts from a top university in New Jersey, I really had no idea what I was supposed to do with my degree. A friend suggested I continue my education by going to graduate school. Fortunately, I was accepted into NYU’s Masters in Educational Theatre program in colleges and communities. It was here that I first heard the word “teaching artist.” (Honestly, when my professor first mentioned the title, my instinct was to say, “Wait, that’s not a camp counselor?” BUT someone else in the class said it before me).
Teaching Artists are working professional artists who acquire training in education and synthesize pedagogy and artistry to, “provide a tangible link between the creative process and arts-based learning” (Berklee College of Music). This growing profession provides value to both the professional artist and K-12 schools, community institutions, and higher education. “Sometimes the goal is a practical technique-based education, while other times it’s exposing students to new ways to express themselves emotionally and think creatively,” (Berklee College of Music).
Mind blown. I always thought I would be restricted to the title of actor or director or musician or clown, for that matter. Learning about teaching artistry opened up incredible opportunities for me to grow as an educator and an artist without locking into the way I thought I needed to be. Now my journey could begin. I felt like I could take my performance education and my management skills and fuse them together in a way that could really impact people.
Through my continuing educational program, I interned for various institutions. I made connections to libraries, community centers, schools and hospitals, honing in on my craft and growing with the institutions that hired me. These experiences are what led me to create an educational theatre company called Fresh Theatre Arts.
Fresh Theatre Arts is an educational theatre company whose mission is to introduce, educate, and encourage youth to participate in performing arts programming while strengthening their creativity, self-esteem, and social skills. Our goal is to provide professional instruction in the areas of technical theatre, acting, dance, and voice. Fresh Theatre Arts is currently serving communities in New Jersey. For more information on Fresh Theatre Arts, please visit: www.freshtheatrearts.com or email Tova@Freshtheatrearts.com