Since Youth in Arts completed our new strategic plan this spring, we wanted to properly introduce our Mentor Artists to our more in-depth model, and to each other. Our artists work directly in the classrooms, so they rarely have a chance to interact. We hosted an “all artist meeting” in August, and it was wonderful to see them talk to, listen to, and learn from one another. Our icebreaker activity was a worksheet that asked the artists to identify a problem in the world today, and how they would use their art form to solve it (using words and/or pictures). The prompt was WITH MY ART I CAN…
Here is theater artist Hannah Gavagan’s thoughtful response and accompanying artwork:
“A problem I see in the world today is a cycle of hate spurred by fear of difference. With my art I can…bring youth together from different backgrounds to share their experiences and stories. I can create theatre with youth that teaches an adult audience how to step outside of their comfort zone to stop oppression.
I can create worlds where sexism and racism do not exist, and show what our world can look like with equity. I can teach youth about oppression and how to be “upstanders” in their community.”
Hannah is doing wonderful work in two Youth in Arts residencies this fall: Devised Theater for an after school program at Canal Alliance, and Theater for Social Change at Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts. She will return to Cornell Elementary to teach her Civil Rights Storytelling & Theater residency this spring.
BIO: Hannah Gavagan is an actress, teacher, and mentor whose heart lies in social justice. She is passionate about devising issue-based theatre with youth so they may gain personal awareness and understanding of the issues in our world today. This awareness leads to students creating a positive impact through performances and social-action. Through her skills-based drama classes, she works to help unlock students’ personal power so that they may learn, grow, and thrive. Building trust with students, helping them trust each other, and practicing social-emotional skills through play are the foundation of her classes. She earned a BFA in theatre performance at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She is inspired by the teachings of Sanford Meisner and Michael Chekhov. She acts in plays and films, directs student-devised plays, creates films with a social-justice lens, and stars in a YouTube series called the Go-To Go Girl! which aims to inspire girls to be the change they wish to see in the world.