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Introducing Tanner Bradshaw, Teen Cohort Teacher

This week, Downstage Arts would like to showcase another one of our sensational Teen Cohort instructors. Please give a round of applause for the incredibly delightful, vibrant, and proud plant-parent Tanner Bradshaw!

Thank you for joining us on the blog, Tanner! DSA is grateful to have you on the team, teaching our students how to grow as artists and human beings. I’d love to know if there is a fundamental skill or idea that you enjoy teaching most?

I love the process of creating and establishing an ensemble. There is something so beautiful about a group of random people coming together, for a short amount of time, to tell a story. An ensemble rarely exists to perform a second show, so the energy, bond, and cohesiveness developed by a group reminds us to appreciate every member of our team and that life is both lovely and fleeting. Ensemble teaches us that in order to succeed in theatre—and in life—we must encouragingly lift up everyone around us, in order to reach our greatest potentials. I think that after you learn [how] to be an ensemble member, a part of a whole, you know almost everything you need to know about theatre.

We talk endlessly about how imperative collaboration is to the success of every artist, but I’ve never heard someone say what you just said, “once you learn to be an ensemble member, a part of a whole, you know almost everything you need to know about theatre.” I find that statement to be quite profound and inspiring. Now, you’re an individual who has a background in performing. Has teaching theatre served you artistically?

By taking on the role of a teacher, I’m able to share what theatre has given me with the brilliant young minds that will shape our future. Theatre, at a base and stereotypical level, is about the bright lights of Broadway, the spectacle, getting to take the last bow on a stage. Theatre, at its highest level, teaches us how to become members of a community and society, it offers us space to find our inner voices, and it reminds us that our flaws and faults are what make us human and beautiful. The teachers in my life are who have helped me become the person I am today, and I want to have that same positive influence for our talented and amazing students. I thought the gratification I got on stage couldn’t be matched until I saw my students starting to reach their goals. My most important job that offers me the greatest satisfaction is continuing to spread the positive and inclusive environment that theatre offers us through a safe space.

What a beautiful connection you make. I grew up believing that theatre performers and theatre educators were very different career paths, but you remind me that both paths can be a wonderful partnership that strives for better art and human connection. Let’s talk specifically about DSA’s Teen Cohort. What have you learned from this past year teaching aspiring performers?

I’m so appreciative of our young performers this year sharing their artistry and allowing us to help them in whatever way in their college journey. I think our students had to be even more brave than a normal auditioning senior this season while Broadway is still shutdown and human interaction wasn’t possible. Everyone showed vulnerability and poured themselves into their work. I have no doubt whatever paths they choose they’ll have great successes. I constantly learn from our young artists, but I think the messages they continue to teach me over and over again are that we are all nothing without each other and that I have to be bold enough to use my unique voice in my art. When I was younger, I don’t think I could harness exactly what I wanted or who I was, and I don’t think I understood the power I had by just being myself. Our cohort students express themselves in such intelligent, unique, and rooted ways, and I’m excited that they’re shaping the future of our theatre community.

As Tanner expresses, every individual brings unique perspectives and skills to the table. It is DSA’s hope that our students leave feeling more confident and accepting of who they are as they are.

Thank you for joining us today, Downstagers! You are you, and that is your artistry.

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