Dallas Children’s Theater and Literacy Achieves have had a longstanding partnership.
While our 2020-2021 season did not allow for the kiddos to come in our doors, we still sent out teaching artist Emily P. Faith to three campuses for distanced, masked and outdoor theater magic! Here’s her thoughts on these experiences…
When I agreed to be the Literacy Achieves teaching artist in August of 2020, I thought that it would be a cakewalk. So what if it was outside, distanced, masked and with a language barrier!…I am a THEATER ARTIST; I have been thoroughly trained in improvisation, resourcefulness and emotional regulation! On top of that, I have been teaching for the better part of a decade, so at this point, I have seen and done it all. How hard could it be?
Oh naïve me. There is nothing that could have prepared me for classes where I would project my voice over the sounds of a construction site, or wear shorts one day and a parka the next. I would also not be prepared for the move to virtual classes entirely when the winter storms hit in February while I was filming “Little Red Riding Hood” between power outages and no water. (Though, I do not think anything can prepare you for that.) I also was not prepared for the moments of connection, curiosity and courage that have kept me grounded in the unwavering belief that theater changes lives — even during a pandemic, even outside, even with masks on, even in a snowstorm, even, even, even.
Through DCT and Literacy Achieves, theater has inspired confidence in the child who refused to sing along with me in August until we discovered that he enjoys playing my ukulele. Now he shows up every week – even though his family moved an hour away – to sing loudly and accompany the group! Theater instilled bravery in the student who desperately held onto her mother’s leg for months and now is the one to beat in “freeze dance”. Theater has brought joy to parents faces each week as they watch their child learn another language and grow social emotional skills through singing, dancing and acting.
Teaching at DCT and the partnership that we have with Literacy Achieves during COVID-19 has reminded me that resilience can be taught with a bit of imagination, a dash of music and a whole lot of play. It is now my hope to never arrive at the place of having seen and done it all as a teaching artist. Not when the magic of theater is so transformative.
About Emily: Emily P. Faith is an actor, educator and will be graduating with her master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Drama Therapy in May 2021. When Emily is not teaching for the Dallas Children’s Theater, you can find her working on drama therapy research teams, directing for her theater company, Lily & Joan, and creative consulting!
Photos courtesy of Emily Faith