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 shine a spotlight on a different member every other week by conducting a simple interview.
Our next Spotlight is Marie Miguel, the theatre teacher at Indian River High School in Chesapeake, Virginia. Marie also has an adaption of Frankenstein published and available at Stage Plays, with a forthcoming publication of an adaption of Oedipus, also at Stage Plays.
Why do you believe theatre is important?
For many people, especially kids, theatre is a safe space. Theatre allows imagination to flow freely, without fear of ridicule. You truly can be who you dream to be. Theatre, and theatre people, have no expectations. You are who you are. You bring whatever you want to the stage. There are no judgments--the performers, the designers, the technicians--are not judged for themselves, but for their creations and their performances. Growth and experimentation are encouraged and desired, something often overlooked in other fields. While it is nice to be the best, it is not always necessary to be a part of theatre.
Rock of Ages - PCT
Have you always known you would be a theatre teacher? Or what led you to this career?
I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, and I always knew it would be in the arts, although my original plan was to be a chorus teacher. My original plan was to get my degree in Theatre (check), go to NYC (check), get my M.F.A. (started, but no), work professionally as a designer and/or director (check, at least a little), win a Tony or two (only in my living room), and then become a theatre professor. I skipped a few steps on the way, but I think I’ve done pretty well for myself.
Tell us about the best day of your career.
Sadly, it has been witnessing the power of the connections made during theatre when young people have died tragically. Unfortunately, I have had two students die tragically in the last five or six years. One died during a wrestling practice after school, the other from a rare form of cancer. At both funerals, I listened as student after student spoke of their love for their friend, and how that love was built in my class, or on my stage. My name was mentioned more times than should be at someone else’s funeral, and in the midst of my grief, I was inordinately proud. Proud that the time these students had spent with me and with each other had made such an indelible impression, and I truly felt that I am in the right profession.
Children of Eden - Smithfield Little Theatre
What is the weirdest stage food you’ve ever made or eaten?
For Diary of Anne Frank, I had to find food that looked, at least from the stage, like the meager vegetables and potatoes that are mentioned in the play. It also had to be something that could be eaten cold. My decision was cooked kale and those really creepy happy face potatoes. I cooked them every night, and they were quite frankly, disgusting. But I had one actor, he played Mr. Van Daan, who thought they were absolutely delicious. He had no problem stuffing his face with them during the play like his character is supposed to.
What is your favorite musical (or play)? What makes it so special?
I’m not sure if this counts, since it’s not a Broadway show, but The Greatest Showman. First, the music is fantastic, and it’s just so much fun. I love it because I think it shows theatre the way I see it--The Greatest Show. The title song explains theatre as I see it, and as many people see it. Also the song, “This Is Me.” It is so empowering and it’s what I believe theatre gives to people. I love it so much I had it tattooed on my arm.
Cave Dream - Franklin High School
What was the first play you ever saw?
The first play I ever saw was Cats. I fell in love immediately. It is still one of my favorite shows, even with that terrible movie.
What was the most difficult element of a production you’ve ever had to manage?
The telekinesis effects in Carrie: The Musical. I was fortunate that I had some very athletic students, an amazing CTE teacher who worked with me on some of the mechanics, and a top-notch stage crew. Getting a bucket of blood dumped on you is far more unpleasant than you could ever imagine!
If you could have a different career, what would you choose?
I wanted to be a paleontologist. I am still absolutely fascinated by dinosaurs, and I think it would be really cool to spend all day digging for bones and doing research.
What is something we would be surprised to learn about you?
Because I am really short, a lot of people are surprised to learn that I was a carpenter and a truck driver for a small set building company in NY when I first started out.
They Came From Somewhere - Franklin High School
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I think it’s a tie between Hawaii and London. Hawaii, because of the weather and the solitude, and the easy going atmosphere. London because of the history and the vibe of the city.
If you enjoyed Marie’s interview as much as we did, add her as a contact in the Community.
Do you know someone who deserves a moment in the Spotlight? Tell me their name and why at email@example.com. Want to read more Community Spotlights? You can find them here.