Testimonial #33: Tara Handron, Actor/Playwright

How has your life been indelibly touched by a teacher who utilized the arts for whatever reason and acknowledge how they were instrumental in breaking the mold to allow you to become who you are today?

When I was in high school I was lucky to have the same teacher all four years for performing arts choir and the school musical productions. Sharon Greene taught me much more than just how to sing second soprano. Mrs. Greene taught me and many others how to both shine as well as how to be part of a group, a unique integral piece of a greater performance. When I was a junior, Mrs. Greene cast me as one of the three African American back up singers in Little Shop of Horrors. I am not African American, I had done just a few shows up to that point, and yet she went ahead and cast me with two extremely talented girls who were. I felt honored. She encouraged me to use all my unique gifts in any role whether it was third dancer from the left or a lead solo in a state-wide concert. She made me feel valuable and talented and that in turn helped me to take risks in performance and in life. When I was in class or rehearsals with Mrs. Greene I felt alive. I felt confident. There were other times during high school and in college when I used alcohol in unhealthy ways to feel secure or worthy. Mrs. Greene encouraged me and others to find our worth and power in creativity and hard work. Those skills and experiences have helped me in many areas of my life well beyond high school and well beyond the stage. Today I am someone who continues to create and grow and be authentic in all my roles: performer, writer, marketer, fundraiser, producer, friend, daughter, girlfriend, sister, volunteer, student…Thanks, Mrs. Greene!

How are the arts re-igniting your community and sparking innovation and creativity in your local schools?

Because of how I am using my art form (writing and performance around substance abuse, alcoholism and other disorders), I am seeing the arts take a powerful role in educating young people about all the potential harms and dangers of addictive behavior that often begin in middle school and high school. With my play, Drunk with Hope in Chicago, and its research as well as the work I do with the Student Assistance Professionals at Caron Treatment Centers in the DC area, the arts are not only enhancing education around topics that can be either boring or taboo but more importantly the arts are making them more impactful. When I portray a young woman who has been sexually assaulted while intoxicated that can have more of an impact on a young person than simply reading facts and statistics. And with programs like this, more teens are starting their own socially aware performance groups. Using the arts to educate not only transforms how we learn tough or academic topics but also inspires students to be creative in other areas of their lives. Creativity breeds more creativity! For clips of the show and more information go to: http://www.tarahandron.com

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