Theatre Education Graduate Association: Building Our Theatre Community
The practice of community is a distinctive component of the experience of theatre. It has to be. As Anne Bogart puts it, “Every play asks: Can we get along? Can we get along as a society? Can we get along in this room? How might we get along better?” I find it fitting, then, that the Theatre Education Graduate Association, known as TEGA, has kept community—within our Theatre Ed program, across Emerson, and throughout greater Boston—at the heart of its organizing work.
New not just to Emerson but to Boston, I’ve come to count on this community work as a source of support, growth, and friendship this year. Within my first two months, I had the privilege of joining with other grad students in creating a devised production: Relationship: A Noun, directed by Vincent Ratsavong ’19 and sponsored by TEGA. We shared stories, both personal and political, ate meals together, wrote, rehearsed, processed, and performed. We also checked in with each other about our involvement with other artistic and educational happenings around town. For many of us, it was a great introduction to our time here.
This semester, I am one of four students on the TEGA board, and it has been exciting to think about ways of continuing to build our theatre education community. As we plan professional and social gatherings, explore opportunities for skills-sharing, and reach out to community organizations for participation in our annual theatre education festival, our thinking has been focused on the experience of community. What does our community need? What assets and histories do we bring? Who can we reach out to? Who do we need to hear more from?
I’m interested to see where our work takes us—as educators, as artists, and as members of our growing theatre education community—in Emerson, Boston, and beyond.
About the author
An educator, director, and choreographer, John Thiel is pursuing his MA in Theatre Education at Emerson College. He comes from Stockton, CA, where he taught acting and creative theatre to adults and children of all ages. He is the recipient of the Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Association’s “Best Choreography in an Education Musical” award for his work with high school students on a production of The Who’s Tommy. With a passion for engaging communities in the creation of original work, he has facilitated devised theatrical productions in schools, local dance and theatre companies, and churches. He holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Bucknell University, where he also studied theatre and Francophone studies.