Get to know the Teaching Artists working with students and Los Angeles community members this season.
The Education & Community Partnerships department welcomed the new cohort of Teaching Artists for the 2022/2023 Season this fall. Teaching Artists take on a variety of roles and projects throughout a season, be it working directly with students in classrooms or community members in workshops in our Boyle Heights costume shop, developing storytelling series in local community spaces, or creating digital resources and programming related to our shows on stage. They work alongside Center Theatre Group’s resident Education & Community Partnership team, Traci Kwon, Jesus Reyes, Aurora Ilog, Nico Rosario, and Meighan La Rocca, to collaborate with and inspire the greater Los Angeles community of artists and storytellers.
Get to know each of the Teaching Artists for this year.
AJA HOUSTON (SHE/HER)
“I think it is super necessary and important to nurture the next group of artists and artists of color...For the future of storytelling theatre...we need to nurture the voices that I feel aren’t heard enough and for it to be more multifaceted and nuanced. [I try to] find a safe space for my students to form their voices and be confident in their voices and create brave, bold, creative, imaginative work.”
JOHNATHON JACKSON (HE/HIM)
“As an educator, I come from the standpoint of making sure that...kid knows that their story is valuable, that it’s worthy, and it has dignity and it’s worthy of art. I do it to try and change their lives the way [the arts] have literally changed the course of my life.”
DEBRA E. PIVER (SHE/HER)
“I love that we approach this program collaboratively. I love that we have a team of Teaching Artists and we are really collaborative through the whole thing. It starts with us. I love the student matinees...I’m always delighted by what students have to say and, if you ask them a big question, how they respond.”
ESTELA GARCIA (SHE/HER)
“That’s really at the core of who I am as an educator, of meeting people where they’re at and help[ing] amplify and give you skills to really...enunciate the storyteller in you. It’s not about changing you or breaking you down or showing you my method, but giving you tools and taking you through an experience where you’re going to feel more confident and able to tell your story...Because there’s such talent already in the communities that we’re not tapping into.”
TARA RICASA (SHE/HER)
“I believe that theatre connects us. And, because of that, it is an essential part of...that journey to being better human beings. Experiencing theatre, both as an audience member and experiencing it as a creator, are very different experiences, but equally valuable in terms of life skills...those basic soft skills–communication, collaboration, creativity, problem-solving, perseverance, all those things that you can get in other contexts, right? But theatre, for me, boils down to healthy communities.”
RAMY EL-ETREBY (HE/HIM)
“[Students are] not [being] taught that their stories are important. They’ve not been taught that there’s beauty and magic and power [in where they come from]. A lot of youth that we have met, you know, are trying to imagine a brighter future rather than assess who they are and what they know. I really like investing in people and getting them to own who they are and celebrate who they are. And I think the arts is the best way to do that.”
CHRISTINE BREIHAN (SHE/HER)
“I do this work because I think that art makes you a better person. I think it makes your soul grow. I think I want to be in the world with more people who’ve done it...You’re looking for excellence in everyone first, there’s excellence in everyone. Just looking for that all the time and honoring and naming curiosity...and being okay sitting in the mystery of things. Not needing the answers all the time. A lot of learning happens when you don’t know the answer.”
“The skills we are teaching through theatre, creativity, and writing are going to serve [students] for the rest of their lives. We’re helping build these future leaders of our society and growing arts appreciators. I find it really meaningful to see [students] with a little more pep in their step, a little more inspired, from the beginning of the workshop to the end.”
ZACHARY BROWN (HE/HIM)
“All of my art [and] theatre classes as a kid had a huge impact on the way that I turned out. And I believe that the creation of art and learning to express yourself is imperative to our development as human beings...of empathy and understanding in the world...I really love the moment that I can prove to someone, prove to a student that they do have something to say or that they can create or produce something.”
CARENE MEKERTICHYAN (SHE/HER)
“I always want to make sure that the youth that I work with know that their perspective and their values and the values of their ancestors are critical, and they have a voice. And I believe art is inherently political and is something that can use to change the world and spark empathy and to create a revolution, so I love to instill that in the youth and the community members that I work with, as well.”