We recently launched a new Community program called Teaching Artist Directory. This directory is an EdTA members-only benefit that helps you find skilled theatre professionals to lead workshops in your classroom or at an event.
Our latest featured teaching artist is Rosie Best, an EdTA professional member and the Founder/Artistic Director of Issue Box Theatre. In addition to performing and teaching, Rosie is a Licensed Independent Social Worker with a passion for using theatre as a tool to make the world a better place. You can learn even more about the incredible work Rosie is doing by visiting her Teaching Artist Profile.
What is your favorite thing about being a teaching artist?
I love opportunities to inspire, educate, entertain and ignite Actorvists - which is what I call anyone who wishes to “do something” with their theatre - like change the world! As the Artistic Director of Issue Box Theatre, I hope to embody our mission, which is to “create space for human dignity using theatrical elements for social justice.”
What are your areas of expertise?
I am a trained mental health professional as well as an acting coach and director. I am also originally from England and was a youth pastor when first in this country. This makes for a very interesting blend of areas: dealing with rejection, cultural competence, Actorvism, and living a life of intentional curiosity and spiritual integrity.
Do you teach workshops for students, teachers, or both?
Both! I am a passionate advocate for anyone's growth; I work to help people become their best version of themselves.
What kinds of workshops do you teach?
Workshops that are a creative approach to personal and professional development, such as:
- Dealing with Rejection – Healthy ways to cope
- Set in England - it's WAY more than an accent
- Igniting Your Inner Actorvist
- Don't Let the Drama Get You Down!
I am able to generate anything else that addresses the specific needs of a group that wants me to speak. The above are just the recent slate of offerings.
Do you have any special training or certification?
I have a Master of Arts (MAT) in Teaching Theatre and I am also a Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW). When I taught at Toledo School for the Arts, I had my Language Arts/ Drama/ Voc. Tech certification, but I let it lapse. Oh yeah, and I have a Diploma in Bible Knowledge and Theology from the London School of Theology.
Why do you believe theatre is important?
I have seen so many lives transformed by the power of theatre. I also see so many dedicated educators expending hours of time, energy, and personal resources pouring into the lives of young people - it's inspiring.
What is your greatest challenge?
Having enough hours in the day!
What does a typical day look like for you?
My days vary depending on production schedules and how many different hats I’m wearing. Here’s a recent example of a really busy day!
- Morning cup of tea (I’m English) while I check in to see what’s going on in the world reading the news on my iPad.
- 9:30 am: met with fellow collaborators at the Toledo Museum for final check in before our intervention
- 10:00 am: Welcome the participants for our VIP2 Group (VIP = Vulnerable Individuals Project). Facilitated an exploration of how art tells stories and how are stories are reflected in the art. This group of participants are from a local recovery group for women who have experienced trafficking. This partnership opportunity allows the women to reflect on their stories and their process of healing. It’s been a powerful use of theatre.
- 12:15 pm: Meg (the MSW intern) and I drive to Wendy’s for a quick bite before our next event.
- 1:00 pm: Arrived at MemoryLane Care Services to facilitate our “Imagine That!” Program where we inspire storytelling with people living with dementia.
- 2:30 pm: Afternoon tea at home. A moment’s breather and an opportunity to regroup.
- 3:15 pm: We are now downtown Toledo for the Mental Health Recovery Services Board meeting. I performed Every Brilliant Thing by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe as part of their training. This is mandatory training for the Board, and it was so well received. Q & A with Board members who were thankful for the engaging performance. Afterwards, I was approached by someone who wants to support Issue Box Theatre’s work; we are so thankful for our supportive community!
- 6:30 pm: Arrived home where I was greeted by the dogs, but not the cat (who is not a greeter), had dinner with the wife, and collapsed into a heap.
Tell us about the best day of your career.
Wow! Just one? Taking students to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, an optimal production of Much Ado About Nothing - set backstage at the circus, performing Every Brilliant Thing, forming a theatre company... I could go on… I LOVE what I do, and these are just highlights of “Big Moments.” There have also been countless SMALL moments when an intervention had a HUGE impact in the life of a particular student. I’m currently working on Working with a local high school – there’s so much joy that comes as a result of seeing the “AHA” moment on a student’s face.
What is the resource you most recommend to others in your profession?
It's going to be a book! I am always recommending books. Some favorites would be: A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech (creative thinking), Dignity by Donna Hicks (exploring how dignity can increase among people), A Seat at the Table by Celia Williamson (on caring for trafficking victims and being an advocate), and as soon as I see this in print, I'll think of something I should have put on the list!
What is the best advice anyone has ever given to you?
My brother, Steve, said, “Advice should be written on toilet paper, so it serves at least one purpose!”. But, having said that… “When I slow down, I go faster!” and “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
What is your favorite musical (or play)? What makes it so special?
Come From Away is amazing - so joyful, such a celebration of incredible kindness - we need more of that.
My favorite play would be Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel - my parents were Irish.
What is unique about your workshop(s)?
What would you consider your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?
Failure is a part of the human condition. It's important to learn not to beat yourself up for the things that haven't gone as you hoped. I am a fallible human being, I make mistakes, and in attempting to do the best I can, probably have got it wrong on many occasions. The only thing I have control over is trying to do my very best in any given situation - so that's what I try to do.
Rosie’s unique skillset, sense of humor, and energy would make her the perfect person to lead students or adults through a thought-provoking workshop in a classroom or event. Contact Rosie here or explore the Teaching Artist Directory here. Want to hear more from Rosie? She was recently part of a recorded panel session on managing student stage fright and stress through Theatre Educator Pro (EdTA's learning and education center). Listen to it here!