Playwright and stage manager emphasizes culture, community and arts advocacy

Teresa Calves[M]y academic and career path in the theater arts has been diverse. Yet, it has always been focused on one general goal: to work in theater and support the arts. Through my various roles supporting theaters, play laboratories and production offices, I have been able to make this goal more specific. I feel passionate about introducing theater arts to children, especially children who would not normally be exposed to theater.

Once theater became my outlet, I found a forum where I could be bold and creative. In high school, I wrote plays, sketches and acted. I constantly felt that there was so much to learn and that I needed to catch up. There wasn’t any doubt that when I attended Drew University, I would eventually become a Theatre Arts Major. I acquired new roles: I went from being the playwright, to the stage manager to the dramaturg. And as I learned more, I again felt that I had so much to learn and with theater, you learn by doing.

I assistant-stage managed for Twelve Miles West Theatre Company in Madison, NJ. I was an administrative intern for Repertorio Español and stage managed for Rising Sun Performance Company. I stage managed, did music research and was a script supervisor. I was a literary intern for Lark Play Development Center and their passion for supporting new playwrights was contagious. I saw their focus and this helped me realize that supporting the arts is wonderful but what was my mission?

The answer was introducing children to theater. I participated in a partnership between Drew University and an after school program for high school students in Newark, NJ. What happened was incredible. These kids completely opened up to the process and became writers. They shared profound experiences from their lives and turned them into a story to be told to others. One student inspired the next, and before we knew it, we had a show with a theme of strength and survival. I never intended for it to become this cathartic experience, but it was. I fell in love with theater again because of these kids. Two of them applied to Drew University and are now Theater Arts Majors.

I am now the Business Manager for Front & Center for Performing Arts. We’re an after-school studio that teaches acting, singing and dancing to students from ages 3-18 years old. The students who attend are fortunate because they are exposed to the arts at a young age. I remember the kids who live in the next town over, who do not get the same opportunities to learn about theater. We’ve been making efforts to diversify the students who attend our school and to offer them scholarships so they can attend. I have the same thought: there’s so much that I need to learn, if I want to really do something for them.

I have been accepted into The Teacher’s College at Columbia University to attend their Arts Management program. I feel that a Masters from this graduate program will give me the tools to develop into an arts leader. I want to get one step closer to my mission and I feel with Columbia’s innovative emphasis on culture, community and arts advocacy, I can learn the skills and strategies that will help me get to the next level. It makes me feel excited and want to fall in love with a new side to theater. I want to be a person who not only supports the arts, but makes it possible for others to support it, as well.

We are proud to announce Teresa Calves is one of the current LatPro Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), click the ‘star’ just above comments section below, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.

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