Women in Theatre Series Promotes Diversity, Inclusion, Artistic Resilience

Thursday, Apr 26, 2018

Kirsten Childs

Kirsten Childs (center) during Women in Theatre at NYU Skirball | Photo: Ella Bromblin

Leading female artists underscored the importance of diversity and inclusion in theatre, as well as personal resilience, during Tisch Drama’s Women in Theatre series, a collaborative program held in four installments over the 2017-18 academic year.

In the fall, the series welcomed 2017 Honorary Tony Award winner Baayork Lee and Tony Award-winning actor and director Phylicia Rashad, and in spring welcomed award-winning playwright and librettist Kirsten Childs, and singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, composer of Broadway’s Waitress.

Held at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, the series enabled Tisch Drama to partner with other departments, including the Institute of Performing Arts, Grad Acting, Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, and Dance. Tisch Drama Associate Chair Michael McElroy, curator of the series, said it celebrated the many contributions that female artists have made across the creative landscape.

“These women of diverse backgrounds have careers that have spanned years as actors, dancers, and directors,” McElroy said. “Each one still influences the field, gives to the next generation, and transforms and innovates the arts.

Installments featured a conversation and masterclass with each artist, who offered feedback to students in areas of singing, dancing, and acting — as well as life lessons.

Sara Bareilles

Sara Bareilles (second from left) at Women in Theatre | Photo: Marat Berenstein

Most recently, in April, Bareilles talked about her artistic process, and finding the balance between being vulnerable as an artist and taking care of oneself.

“I noticed that the more vulnerable I can bear to be in my art, the more connections it can create,” she said.

On a similar note, Childs underscored the importance of being resilient in one’s artistic journey.

“You have to be stubborn to succeed in anything you want to do, because there’s going to be a lot of people telling you that you can’t do it,” she said. “As a woman, you have to have that stubbornness, because there are going to be a lot of people saying, ‘Oh, that’s ambitious of you.’”

Nicole Tsarouhas, a second-year student at Tisch Drama’s New Studio on Broadway, said she was grateful to participate in the series, and that working with Childs in particular was “an incredible honor.”

“I have yet to meet an artist of such esteem, who is as grounded, real, humble, and human as she is,” Tsarouhas said. “And I felt incredibly lucky to have gotten such personal attention from her.”