Click on the PDF icon below to read an article about my work with Sanctuary Stage from International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Oregon’s Sanctuary Stage: Giving Voice to the Voiceless; written by Dr. Barbara Sellers-Young, former Dean of the School of Arts, Media, Performance, and Design of York University.
International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Oregon’s Sanctuary Stage: Giving Voice to the Voiceless
I am currently the head of the BA in Theatre program and Assistant Professor of Applied Theatre within the School of Theatre at Oklahoma City University. I am also co-founder of Sanctuary Stage, an Oregon based theatre company that produces work through socially engaged participatory theatre practice. As an educator, my work is focused on the development of new plays and mentoring students in the realization of their own creative voices. I am currently developing a cycle of Theatre for Youth plays revolving around environmental issues being experienced by different ecosystems.
Through my work in the arts, I explore what it means to understand the human condition, the impermanence of our existence, and how the sharing of a narrative can offer perspectives that otherwise might not be considered. I believe that participation within the arts creates a lasting connection between the mind, body, and soul.
I have maintained a balance between my academic appointments, research, and artistic endeavors throughout my career, focusing on Community-Engaged Participatory Theatre Research, Devised and Applied theatre projects. My theatre projects often focus on conceptualizing and creating new works, either as a writer or director.
Shortly after partnering with Los Angeles-based Cornerstone Theater Company, I co-founded Sanctuary Stage. My work in this field has examined veterans' experiences suffering from PTSD, Immigrant Middle Eastern Muslims residing in rural Oregon, and the stories of migrant Latinos living and working in the City of Independence, Oregon. These projects inspired me to consider new audiences and investigation methods to place ecological issues on stage in Theatre for Youth plays.
Currently, I am interested in developing a cycle of children's plays that focus on ecological issues. As a young child growing up in rural Texas to residing among Northern California's redwoods, I fostered a deep interest and passion for the environment. I recently collaborated with the Oregon Coast Aquarium to develop an original play about plastic pollution in our oceans. This project was the catalyst for my interest in creating theatre for youth that focuses on environmental issues. This research is based on the following question: How can ecological issues be explored and addressed in a meaningful way for children within the context of live stage performance?
There is nothing in this world that I love more than creating a piece of theatre from scratch. As an artist, I find a great deal of satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment when I get to witness with an audience a play that either I have written or have guided through the creation process with an ensemble of actors and designers.
Sanctuary Stage strives to bring to the forefront the stories of micro-communities found within the larger community of the Willamette Valley, Oregon through a Community Engaged Theater-Making process.