Youth Theatre at UIC
David Kersnar is joining our camp faculty this summer to lead theatre students in the creation of a new work. He will also be teaching two classes at UIC in the fall: Script Analysis and Contemporary Performance Techniques. He took some time to tell us about his experiences in teaching and theater.
You have directed multiple productions for the Lookingglass Young Ensemble. What makes participation in theatre important for youth?
Participation in a theatrical environment fosters the growth of skill sets in group problem solving and collaborative creation whether one intends a career in the performing arts or not. We need to share this planet with others. Might as well learn how to do it right.
The upcoming UIC Theatre Camp gives students the opportunity to create new works. What caused you to choose a camp structure where the students create new works, rather than learning a work already written and performed?
The difference between grade school and college comes down to self discipline. In a university setting no one is going to tell you to do your work. No one is going to call home if you get a bad grade. You have to motivate yourself. You need to learn to lead and start by leading yourself. I am more interested in training a group of young people to follow their creative instinct than merely follow my direction.
What has been your most memorable performance at Lookingglass? On another Chicago stage?
Last year I had the pleasure of directing 250 performers at the Harris Theatre for my production of Sita Ram. That was a thrill! Recently I caught the Kneehigh production of Tristan and Yseult at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Bold, physical and viceral. Reminded me why there is nothing better in the world than an evening of live theatre. Life affirming!
You have a bustling career performing and directing, but make time to teach throughout Chicago. Why is teaching an important part of your life?
Maya Angelou told us that if you learn something you most teach it! I come from a family of educators. My mom taught special ed, my dad was an English professor, and my grandpa was a physicist. It’s in my blood. I believe that if you are good at something, it is your calling to do it and teach it.
What personal highlights are on your performance calendar for 2014–15?
I am co-writing and directing a new production for the Chicago Lyric opera called The Magic Victrola. I am also working on a new adaptation of 20 Thousand Leagues under the Sea by Jules Verne.