Origins of See Saw = constant interaction of past & present, the balance needed in life that a playground see saw represents, and my mom's nickname!
Welcome to the See Saw website! I'm Amy, the founding artistic director- and I'm going to be using this blog to reflect on current projects, stay up to date with opinions from the field, and to provide a platform for anyone who would like to write about applied theatre or creative placemaking.
I moved to the NC Triangle (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) in 2009 as an actor, and found myself increasingly critical of the theatre business, in which looks were favored over talent so often (read: I had so many experiences with MFA directors telling me that I had the talent, I just didn't "fit" into any of their types- to fat to play the ingenue (it's harsh but true), too young to play the mom etc). Then, through a friend, I heard about this thing called "applied theatre" which combined social justice with theatre, didn't care how you looked, and allowed you to CREATE your own work. AND it had a master's program, the very first masters of its kind/name in the US. I was sold and moved to Brooklyn in the fall of 2011.
From 2011-2013 I studied applied theatre at CUNY's MA in Applied Theatre, which you will see referenced several times in the website. What I learned and practiced at CUNY forms much of the foundation of SeeSaw, and I owe so much to Chris Vine and Helen White who started that program. While in school, I found myself drawn to the creation of interactive educational theatre pieces (TIE or Process Drama), and devising theatre. I worked at the New Victory Theatre in their prestigious education department where I experienced brilliant, provokatice artistry in the field of Theatre for Young Audiences.
When I moved back to NC in 2013, I was eager to DO something with my new knowledge and tools, and was itching to start an applied theatre company. But upon attending the Sojourn Theatre Summer Institute in the summer of 2014, I received some awesome advice from Michael Rohd (duh, right?): he told me to stay my ground, get to know the community, notice things and not to be so eager to form an entity right away. So that is what I have been doing for the past four years. I have observed that Raleigh has a rich arts scene, and that as of two years ago, site specific work was new and now is cropping up more and more. I embedded myself in the company Seed Art Share, who do really fantastic site specific work in museums and at historical sites, and also with the Summer Sisters, who devise a piece of theatre each summer. I just finished directing three runs of a semi-apocalyptic play in a coffee shop. Since I've been here, new theatres, galleries, and coworking spaces have sprouted and I've found new friends and artists to collaborate with in the community.
And despite all of the cool things going on here, there still seems to be a need for the kinds of applied theatre projects I worked on in my master's, especially devising and interactive drama. The right moment to start SeeSaw emerged this past summer, when my friend Ellen Brown moved to Durham from New York. She was in my master's cohort, and is now the drama teacher at Durham Academy, and let me know that they wanted to hire 9 teaching artists to come into the school and lead interactive workshops. We talked about what organizations around the triangle could do this, and there didn't seem to be anything that fit the bill. But SeeSaw could do it, and we could do it well and we DID do it well. See Saw was born, and Ellen came on as Education Director. Thanks to Ellen's gig, we incorporated and hired 9 amazing teaching artists from the Triangle and Philadelphia to lead our first project. I am excited and nervous to grow the company, and am very much in the "what's next" phase- especially given that I work a full time job at Arts NC State. The notion of finding and creating new projects will be explored in a future blog. Until then, THANK YOU for reading this far and for being curious about this new adventure.
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