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How do Theatre Training and Musical Composition Help Public Education?

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Stephen E. Hays and Kathryn Hayward have known one another for 50 years. Steve was one of Kathryn’s earliest mentors, modeling how to transform her observations and insights about human behavior into educational experiences that inspire people to take action to enhance their health.

As a young teenager in the 1960s, Kathryn met Steve at Trinity United Methodist Church, which was going through a painful period, a transition that reflected cultural movements including demonstrations and violence related to the American involvement in the Vietnam War, Civil Rights and Black Power, Women’s Liberation and Gay Rights.

Steve’s response to easing the unrest within the church’s congregation was to bring people together through composing humorous songs which were performed by church members in annual theatre productions called Baker’s Dozen. He has a dossier of over 200 songs.

Living Whole Online is fortunate to have Steve contributing a few of those songs, along with his humorous and insightful explanations of their origins.

Steve’s history as a musician, composer and director includes his 1967 founding of Stage West, a regional theatre company. He served as Artistic Director until the early 1980s.

In 1987, Steve founded The Drama Studio with a group of educators and parents who envisioned an institution where youth could study acting as seriously as they could study music, supported by a carefully designed curriculum, productions of quality scripts, and a strong scholarship program to ensure opportunity for all.  The term “conservatory-style” was used to describe a two-part process:  first, a series of acting classes, offered sequentially from introductory to advanced levels, that would permit acting students to grow in their craft over a period of years, and second, a series of production opportunities that would allow students to audition, rehearse and perform at the same level of quality operating in the classroom.  A third part to The Drama Studio’s approach includes community and educational outreach.  This outreach, in the form of field trips, touring productions, literacy workshops and residency programs is vital to the mission because it makes the program even more accessible to all local young people.

Writing songs is a wonderful hobby…they have a beginning, a middle and an end and you have a very short amount of time to make your point.

                                                                                                                                Stephen E. Hays

Here are some of the topics that Steve and Kathryn explore in this conversation:

    • “Can you do something to bring us together?” Who asked Steve this question and why? What did Steve do about this request?
    • How do humor and music assist us in polarized, strenuous times?
    • How do Steve, his daughter Amelia who now runs The Drama Studio, and their colleagues help children become aware of and manifest their power?
    • How did Steve’s play, The Little Match Girl, help a depressed high school girl?
    • What is The Drama Studio doing to help public education?
    • What online learning opportunities are offered by The Drama Studio?

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