Teen Interview #12

Emma Brennan, 16.

What school do you attend?

I attend Curtis High School.

In schools, are athletics or arts more appreciated?

Athletics; It’s just an American thing. Everyone’s so into sports, it draws the biggest crowd. People love going to football games because they’re fun, and they are fun, but I think they should branch out and try to participate in other things. Go to a choir concert or something. I think that the American culture is so into sports; although it is into arts. We have the super bowl, people can’t really help it.

How has, or hasn’t your school impacted your contribution to the arts?

It has, there are a lot of opportunities to participate. I love being in orchestra choir. For theatre, there are a lot of opportunities, although I don’t get into all of them [laughs].They’re really fun; it’s really fun to be a part of a family when you do get into them.

How has the education system sparked, or ignored, the arts?

I feel like our school has a really good arts program. It could be better; I don’t understand the favoring of other clubs and sports over some arts. I know our art program at Curtis is really strong but at other schools, it’s lacking. Theatre departments are really underdeveloped, which is sad.

What are your art mediums?

My top one is music, but I love theater. Theater is right underneath it. Theater and music have just been really important to me. I’ve been singing and playing the piano for a really long time. I got into theater in the eighth grade. I play the cello and the piano. I used to take lessons, but I stopped that- classical lessons aren’t my thing. I always wish I could play the guitar since I love rock music. I wish I could play the electric guitar because they’re so cool! Anyone who plays the electric guitar—you’re winning!

Do you wish you were multitalented? In what?

I’ve always wanted to be athletic. I always make fun of myself and athletes. I’m so sorry, [laughs] but I wish I was them sometimes! I used to really play volleyball, but I can’t play at all anymore. In the arts I’m fine, but I’ve always wanted to be athletic. I’m a real faker, I always pretend to be [athletic].

What music genre do you feel should be more popular?

I like listening to classic rock and alternative rock, I dig that. Also, I love a good show tune.

Who do you look up to when you feel especially uninspired?

Oh gosh, it changes a lot. I really love this artist, her name is Joni Mitchell, her time has passed. Her lyrics are some of the greatest things I’ve ever heard in my life. Her style is underappreciated now because her time was in the 70’s. Her lyrics are crazy; I don’t know how someone can write like that. More recently I really like Sara Bareilles’ lyrics. The part of songs that I really think is important is the lyrics. Melodies are really important too. But what it’s saying… you know?

What qualifies as “art”?

Art is getting creative and creating something that you put a lot of effort into. It can be music or painting, but I don’t want to sectionalize it. It’s hard to explain but just getting creative and putting yourself into something, whatever that may be. You could say your school work is art if you’re putting yourself into it and enjoying what you’re doing.

What is an underrated art, in your opinion?

This is going to sound pushy, but I think theatre is very underappreciated. A whole bunch of people just try out, thinking it’s weird or out of their comfort zone, and they end up loving it. I know someone who did “one acts” for one year, and they went to minor in theatre in college. I think if you try out for a show, even if you don’t get in, it’s so fun. It will be the least judgemental audience you have.

How has participation in the arts changed your perspective on life and the world?

Before I wanted to do a practical job, just like everyone else wanted, but I didn’t know what that was. I feel like if I hadn’t found theatre or music, I would go to college not really knowing. I have found myself in the arts, and that is the only choice I gave myself; that is the only thing I want to do.

Do you think there should be a balance in art promotions between adults and youth?

I think there should be a balance. I’m not really into [visually] artistic stuff, but those young people are going to be the future. They deserve to have their work shown off and they deserve attention.

How do you think theatre affects Tacoma?

There’s a lot of community theaters in Tacoma, and just from our school, there are a lot of people who want to go and watch. I can imagine that’s something for people in Washington especially, our state is really into the arts. There are a bunch of opportunities to see live theater, and that’s really good.

Why is theatre so expensive and how can we change that?

Kids don’t know that it’s an option to get good tickets. Youth should get access to cheaper tickets. I think that it should have an accessible price option. It shouldn’t be too cheap, because it’s going to art, and that should always have money going into it, but it should still be accessible.

How can theatre improve in inclusiveness?

[By looking] from a different point of view. Maybe if they took a chance on people that they haven’t worked with before, get out of the same thing. I know at TMP, they have the same people on every single show and it would be cool to see them including different people, even if they don’t know them. If they show what they can do, and they’re good, I think they should make it.

What are your short-term and long-term goals in relation to the arts?

I really want to do theatre and music any chance I get. I don’t have to do it professionally or release my own music. Maybe if there is a choir within a city, I’ve seen those. I want to keep myself sharp in singing and regular music, instead of just doing theatre. I want to continue doing music and maybe even continue with orchestra-that’s gonna be harder. I hope to not lose that because it’s really special!

Emma in Les Misérables


Go follow Emma on Instagram! @Emmab253

Teen Interview #8

Westley Richard Hackler, 16.

How did you get into art?

My grandmother signed me up for a class in my elementary school. It was a project and they teach the basics of theater. Like how to work well with others. Then after that, it just became what I did every single year.

What was the first production you were in?

The very first production I was in was called, “Prince the Popper,” a rock musical. It was a show about young Prince the Popper, your normal story. But it had a more modern theme to it. I would say I was around 10 years old when I did it.

What is your favorite theater production you’ve been in?

“The Secret in the Wings.” It was a Grimms’  brothers fairy tale show. It was really dark and mysterious. Out of the box. Really good.

Was the transition to theater a gradual process, or a straight breakthrough?

I’ve been straight going into theater. After this, I’m going right to an audition.

Does your school, or the people in your school inspire you?

I wanna say both. Because the school itself gives you opportunities to pursue your art. And the people around you, give you positive feedback and a positive environment. And you’re able to work and improve with it.

Why do you think you gravitated towards theater and not another form of art-making?

The reason why I gravitated toward theater is that it’s so complex. And it’s really impossible to master. I just saw a challenge and I like a challenge.

What would a life without theater be like?

Not well. I’ll say that. With theater, it’s gotten me out of some pretty bad times in my life. Out of trouble. It’s given me a home, and a safe place to go to when you’re feeling that life isn’t the best.

Are theater families a myth, or an accurate thing?

Theater families are for sure a thing. It’s just a normal cast, but as you create your bonds while doing shows, they’re like your best friends. And you don’t consider them your best friends because they’re always there for you. You know their good qualities and bad qualities and they just hook together.

Why do you think teens need art?

Teens need art because it’s something you can express emotion in, that’s not always the easiest form to use with words. So they show it with how they act, draw, move around; it becomes a more important thing in your life than just some object.

Where do you see your passion for arts taking you?

The main goal is to become a part of a touring company. New York is not really my thing. I like California a lot more. The environment there; but also if I was a part of a touring company I could travel to a lot of places and different countries. I really enjoy the idea of that.

What are your next steps to grow as an artist?

To grow as an artist, I always go to my director and ask what I can improve first. Those are tiny things I can work on. Colleges. What are the good ones?  What’s a reputable name so, after this, I can show what I’ve been? What I’ve done. Getting paid enough to live.

Do you think other cities can learn from Tacoma or vise versa?

I feel like knowledge is passed around from this area to that area. We all share the same things.

Why do you think organizations for teens are important?

It helps get the word out. Art isn’t expressed enough. It’s a dying breed and there are very few people who are trying to keep it alive. I feel organizations like this keep it going.

Follow Westley @scratly14 on Instagram!