I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota which afforded me the opportunity to be raised alongside diverse populations and see the benefit of multiple cultural perspectives in the classroom. I was fortunate enough to be brought up in a school district that embraced their diversity, and actively sought for the students to gain a broader perspective in their surroundings. While I identify as a CIS white male, I recognise the privilege I have received and focus my energy on using my privileged to help elevate the voices of others.
I am fortunate to have started my teaching career at the University of Minnesota Morris (UMM) the liberal arts college for the University of Minnesota system. By percentage, UMM is the most diverse school in the University of Minnesota system, and has afforded me the opportunity to work alongside and grow as an educator among a diverse group of students. I have the privilege to participate in events through the UMM Diversity Equity and Inclusion office (DEI) which helps to further my personal and professional development as an educator, and continue to allow me to serve as an effective ally in the drive for social justice.
Observing the canon of western theatre, it is undeniably white. In my coursework, I strive to find playwrights and historians that break this trend. In my Fundamentals of Design course, I choose plays that uplift marginalized voices, such as The Thanksgiving Play by Larissa Fasthorse. This play tackles the problematic approaches to the celebration and artistic representation/appropriation that is associated with Thanksgiving. Not only is this an approachable play for young designers to analyze, it also spurs strong conversations among students about their understanding and prior education of the holiday during the analysis phase of the process.
Lighting design is at the forefront of my research, and I take my role as such seriously. As a Lighting Designer, it is my responsibility to help emphasize the story’s mood and emotion through the medium of light. This goes beyond the practice of simply illuminating the stage. Early in my career, I was taught that a good lighting design is meant to make the actors look good. I take that to heart and keep that ideal at the forefront of my design philosophy. Throughout my process, I pay close attention to each individual actor and how my lighting displays the true depth and color of their features and skin tones.
Finally, through my work as Program Director of the Minneapolis Green Theatre Alliance, we have sought to include workshops that promote DEI initiatives. As an organization we believe that we cannot have climate justice without properly giving everyone an equitable place at the table.