ARCHIVE - State of the Field: Emily Freeman (8-5-15)


Full Name

Emily Freeman

Professional Affiliations

Orlando Repertory Theatre (The REP)

How do you define your role in the field of Theatre for Youth?

I am an artist and writer working at a professional Theatre for Young Audiences company. My focus is community-based drama and theatre with and for young people of all ages.

Number of Years in the Field


What is inspiring about the field of Theatre for Youth at this moment in time?

I am inspired by new work and the theatres/organizations that are passionate about cultivating new artists and plays.

What is the best Theatre for Youth experience youve had in the past 12 months?

Last week, we piloted a new Community Engagement program at The REP. We engaged 4 City of Orlando Community Centers and young people ages 5-14 who are without access to arts programming.We explored musical theatre, the value of the arts for our community, and the importance of self-expression. As a social justice artist, I was initially concerned that we were not writing our own piece and instead performing popular or commercial songs. I worried that we were not addressing social justice themes. Yet, I was reminded about the power of arts-based pedagogy, teaching both through and about the arts. Utilizing critical and artistic pedagogies, our teaching artists engaged the young people in the arts and important discussions that unpacked the themes of the stories they performed. This process, although headed toward a product, built a foundation of appreciation and interest in the arts. The culminating event brought the young people to our theatre where they performed for the first time on a professional stage. The performance, or product, solidified a passion and sense of empowerment amongst the young performers. As new stars were born, so were arts advocates and engaged community members.

Where is field of Theatre for Youth going next?

Toward the digital. I think we will continue to see more digitally driven processes, stories, and aesthetics.

What are three words that describe of embody the field of Theatre for Youth?

Engaging, Critical, Whimsical

What does our field need to do better or differently?

I would love to see budgets and season selections exist independently, rather than as cause and effect.

Why do you work in the field of Theatre for Youth?

I work in this field because of the potential to inspire questions AND wonder. I want to see stories that reflect the experiences or dreams of all young people and communities, rather than just a few. I see artists in this field working toward that goal and it is exciting time to join in AND listen.

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