by Susie Gidseg, Managing Director of Changing Lives
When I was a child, I was super shy; so shy I would be scared to stand up in front of a room and even say my name. My mother put me in an acting class–and it was like magic–all of a sudden, I had something to say, a place to belong, a character I could try on if I was too nervous to be myself. All throughout middle school and high school, theatre became my passion. Looking back–the best moments of theatre I produced was theatre that helped people in some way “changed lives” so to speak.
When I was given the opportunity to join SafePlace as the Managing Director of Changing Lives, I was thrilled. Not only because it was a job where I actually got to use my theatre major for my day job, but more so because I was helping lead these students to be advocates through an artistic medium. I have always believed that the arts are the best way we can get the youth to express themselves.
A medium such as theatre, which allows our teens to write, play, improv, perform, and lead is the ultimate form of self expression.
We always talk about how our teens are out in the community changing others lives through their performances, talk-backs, and outreach—however, it is the students who go through the program that really change. They step up to enormous challenges, they learn to accept change and go with the flow, they decide to work cooperatively with others, and they embrace students from different walks of life than their own. When it’s all over, they emerge stronger, more confident people, with thoughts to share.
Even if they never do a play again, or have any sort of career dealing with the issues we talk about daily in our program, we know that out there in the world are more and more students who can use their voices to speak up and make change. Just like theatre gave me my voice when I was young and shy, I see it too in these students. They have a voice, and they aren’t afraid to stand up and use it.
Theatre Action Project welcomes Susie to Theatre Action Project’s TAP Stories. Look for her guest blogs every month. Welcome Susie! Read more about the Changing Lives Youth Ensemble and our collaboration with SafePlace. Look for guest TAP blogs on the StartStrong blog site.