Friday, December 10, 2010

Interview with Sharon Williams, Engaged Theatre's Teaching Artist

Robin Lynn Smith, the Artistic Director at Freehold, created an extraordinary program in 2003. The Engaged Theatre program tours theatrical performances and workshops to culturally under-served populations. Additionally, Freehold and its teaching artists facilitate an annual residency at three separate Washington Corrections facilities, in which we enable the participants to write, direct, rehearse, and perform their own show in a five-month period. Residencies guide participants through the creation of an original performance based on an exploration of the archetypal hero’s journey. Participants invite their peers, friends and family to watch their performance at the culmination of the residency.

What inspired you to be part of the Engaged Theatre's WCCW Residency Program?

The first inspiration was the opportunity to work with Robin Lynn Smith, again. We worked together years ago and I love her spirit. She’s passionate, genuine, humble, and a wonderful artist, who loves to teach and I admire her for that.

In addition to working with a great artist, I accepted the challenge to be a part of this residency, because I believe that no matter what, everyone has a voice. The one thing no one can take away from you is your voice no matter what your circumstances are. Over the past couple of years the work I’ve created for the Mahogany Project has been to give a voice to the voiceless. I created projects that spoke to the downward spiral of the state of African American men and that addressed the effects of homelessness in our community. Being a part of the WCCW residency was the perfect opportunity to continue doing the type of work that will hopefully allow at least one person a chance to see the power they have in using their voice to tell a story. Working on the WCCW residency is an opportunity for me to continue trying to be more than just an artist who entertainers but hopefully be an artist that can help inspire people to share stories that will in turn help society as a whole become a better place. One voice at a time...

I understand this is your first year volunteering as part of WCCW's residency program. What are you most looking forward to as you head into your first rehearsal this Sunday?

We’ve been trying to prepare ourselves for this moment for the past couple of months, and I’m eager to see how our discussions and prep-work will translate in working with the women. The process of creating a new piece of work can be so unpredictable; therefore, I know no matter how much we thought we prepared, the truth is, it’s going to take on a life of its own and that’s the beautiful part about being on this journey. This Sunday, I’m looking forward to meeting the women and beginning a journey that I know will change my life forever.

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