The youth program here at Seattle Public Theater is nothing if not extensive. It runs year-round, with camps for young children, school residencies, acting workshops for all ages, and full productions for our middle school and high school students. And it explodes during the summer, when we have 10 straight weeks of youth theatre, morning until night, including three middle school productions, two high school productions, and our annual Senior Show!
None of this would be possible without our legion of talented and committed teaching artists. Led by Artistic and Education Director Shana Bestock, Seattle Public Theater has a team of some of the best teaching artists in the Seattle area. For this week’s Spotlight feature, we interviewed Kaya Wynn, one of our newest teaching artists and an alumni of the youth program. Here are some excerpts from that interview.
Backstage at SPT: How did you get started in acting?
Kaya: When I was really little my sister and I used to put on plays for my parents, but my real reason for wanting to act comes from my grandmother, Peggy Webber. She started acting when she was very young. While she is primarily a voice actress, she has also been in films and on the stage. When I was growing up I would listen to the radio plays she both acted in and produced and my mom would tell my sisters and me stories about the different plays she my grandmother was in. I started doing drama camps when I was very little, and musicals in elementary and middle school. In 8th grade, I did my first show at SPT, All in the Timing, and I’ve been here ever since.
Backstage: How did you get started as a teaching artist?
Kaya: One summer, I was performing in Midsummer Night’s Dream with the youth program. I babysat the 6-year old playing the Changeling Child. Shana suggested that I assist teaching artists with camps,- During my senior year, she asked me to do some short workshops at Seattle Children’s Museum. I loved leading my own classes so much that I asked to teach my own camp. I started out with two, taught three last year, and am now teaching five this summer.
Backstage: Is being a teaching artist your primary career path?
Kaya: I will be attending New York University starting this fall to study Educational Theatre. I have come to appreciate how little theater and the arts are recognized in schools, which is incredibly unfortunate. Children are losing their imaginations because they are being pushed to sit at a desk, and to get ready to for the next step in their education. Many kids don’t realize that learning can be fun and that they don’t need to leave their creativity at the door when they enter a school. My dream is to found my own school where the arts and education go hand-in-hand. I always want to teach.
Backstage: What is one of your favorite memories of teaching at SPT?
Kaya: One aspect of my camps that I am very proud of is the script that I write with my students. We take the stories we’re reading and we come up with a story and characters that they want to play. That evening I write the kids a script using all of their ideas and characters. One little girl loved this experience so much that she has started writing her own plays.
Thanks Kaya! And thank you to all of our brilliant teaching artists. We couldn’t do it without you!