One of the main goals for our Theatre Education Community is to help theatre students and professionals from all over connect and identify with each other in order to build resources and support the theatre education field. We plan to shine a spotlight on a different member every other week by conducting a simple interview.
Our newest Spotlight Member is Shira Schwartz, troupe director of Troupe 6815 at Basha High School in Chandler, AZ. If you’ve spent any time in the Community, you’ve undoubtedly noticed her thoughtful advice, accompanied by a serene, Mona Lisa-esque profile picture. Shira was also a valuable addition to the group who helped beta test the Community, preparing it for our public launch. I asked Shira to answer a few questions for us so we could learn a little more about her.
Image via la-allure-deactivated20120319
Ginny: Why do you believe theatre is important?
Shira: I believe theatre is important because it is a sounding board of what is important in society today. I am incredibly lucky that my administration allows me to “push” when choosing plays. My students have done pieces that deal with real-life issues which allow conversations to begin. A wonderful example of this was a production we did last year that dealt with date rape among teenagers. For the majority of the students this was an issue they had at least heard of, but for one girl it was an entirely new concept. She had been unaware that this was a possibility among kids. I also believe that theatre is extremely important in the schools. The theatre kids are a family. They love and hate each other as much as their own siblings, but are always there to support anyone who needs it. It doesn’t matter what they look like, sound like, if they’re popular, have physical or other limitations, or who they personally find attractive. Many of these students continue their friendships into university life, and beyond. In fact, 2 of my former students have recently gotten engaged. :)
Ginny: What is the weirdest stage food you’ve ever made or eaten?
Shira: In Diary of Anne Frank I allowed the techies to make the “soup” before the closing performance (under my direction). This consisted of lettuce, water, cranberry juice, bread pieces, and left to sit for about 3 hours. The reactions from the actors were very… natural. ;)
Ginny: What is your favorite musical (or play) and why?
Shira: I think my favorite performance was in the ensemble of The Producers with the Fountain Hills Theatre. I worked with a great cast and had a blast playing all of the different parts. My favorite part was definitely one of the little old ladies.
Ginny: What inspired you to become a teacher?
Shira: I’ve loved teaching for years. I first began when I was 16 years old at my ballet studio. When I was 17, I became critically ill. While I was hospitalized a few of my dance teachers came to visit me; in fact, my flamenco teacher gave me her original pair of castanets. The time and caring they gave was a huge positive at a time that I needed it. People frequently talk about how a teacher touched their lives. I wanted to be that person.
Ginny: If you had to choose a different career, not related to theatre, what would it be?
Shira: A dance teacher. I grew up in a professional ballet studio and was interested in opening my own. I would want to be certified to teach the Royal Academy of Dance (R.A.D.) curriculum.
Ginny: What is your proudest accomplishment?
Shira: I’m not sure that this would count as an accomplishment, but my happiest moment was when my daughter arrived. My husband and I adopted her from South Korea as an infant. I can’t imagine life without Pearl. She is a budding thespian to boot. She comes to see all of the plays at my school and always wants her time to perform after the show ends. After all, “everyone else got to be on stage.”
Ginny: What is something we would be surprised to learn about you?
Shira: Something that is a little unusual is that I am working on helping my husband develop a logo for his home brewed beer. We’re playing with the thespian angle and a play on his name.
Ginny: What is your favorite part of the day?
Shira: The early morning is my favorite part of the day. I have 6 pets, a husband, and 6 year old so the morning is my time to myself. I get about 20 minutes of quiet time with a book and some coffee.
With so much experience in theatre, dance, and education, it’s no wonder that Shira is one of the top contributors. If you enjoyed Shira’s interview, add her as a contact in the Community!