From stage to stage: a former student of the theater arts diversifies


Taylor Theater Arts Program exposes students to all aspects of theater, both onstage and offstage. Whether it’s designing costumes, painting sets, or rehearsing lines, there is always a way to get involved in creating theater for the Taylor community.

For former student Esther Neel ’13, her experience with the Taylor theater program opened the door for her to pursue what she enjoys professionally.

Learning to be flexible in Lexington

Neel works as the Resident Director and Company Director for Lexington Children’s Theater in Lexington, Kentucky. His work includes directing shows, hiring professional actors for the company, viewing auditions and drafting contracts.

Neel spent two years teaching art before working at the Lexington Children’s Theater, an experience that has helped her immensely for the moments of her job when she teaches in the theater education department. Her time at Taylor taught her to be flexible, an invaluable skill when working with students.

“Performing theater in the midst of a pandemic has been very difficult and my day just doesn’t look like it used to be,” Neel said. “The best part of my job is that no day is like the day before.”

Lexington Children’s Theater is a mission-driven company, and this willingness to stand up for its values ​​is one of the things Neel enjoys working there the most. She believes the arts can have an impact on a student’s life, an idea that solidified during her time with Taylor and is reflected in her current work.

“I’m in the business of making better humans,” Neel said. “I teach empathy every day and this is very important to me because I think the world needs more empathetic humans. When we can feel feelings and see the world from different angles, I think we make the world a better place. “

A Valuable Experience in the Taylor Theater

Assistant professor of theatrical art Tracy manning encouraged Neel to take a directing course. At first, Neel wasn’t enthusiastic about her first directing experience, but she was grateful for a teacher who was willing to push her out of her comfort zone with her best interests at heart. Neel credits Manning with his newfound flexibility and ability to tackle any project, whether on stage or backstage.

“Try everything once,” Neel said when asked to advise future theater students. “There’s a whole world out there that you don’t know. The more skills you can learn, the more marketable you can make yourself. We [Lexington Children’s Theatre] hire a lot of general interns where we need you to be able to paint a setting and then hang a light. Try a lot of different things.

And that could mean valuable content outside of the theater. While at Taylor, Neel took a course in Non-Verbal Communication, a course she has used most often in her career and in her everyday life. She stressed the importance of communication as a whole, citing her teachers instilling in her the importance of good communication.

Neel’s time at Taylor allowed him to spend time with people from a variety of backgrounds and ways of thinking, each of whom taught him something big and small.

“There are so many Taylor Theater moments that I’m so grateful for,” Neel said. “You create memories and you create families by doing theater because you have to be so vulnerable with the people you choose to create art with… I am so grateful for these relationships that I have built because they do. still part of my closest connections. now.”

Interested in learning more about Taylor’s theater program? Click on here.

Photos courtesy of Lexington Children’s Theater.

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