Jessica Strauss teaches our Preschool and Youth Drama classes at the GPAC, which run on Saturday afternoons June 18 – July 30.
Are you an Indianapolis native? Yes!
When did you become interested in performance art?
I’ve been interested in performance since I could walk. I started taking theatre more seriously in high school and decided to pursue it whole-heartedly when I majored in Theatre at Butler University.
What influences your work? OR Tell us about something that inspires you.
Social justice, collaboration, and devised theatre are some of the strongest influences on the work that I create and direct. As a performer, I am most inspired by Michel Chekhov’s technique and the training I’ve received at the Moscow Art Theatre School and my professor Dr. Elaina Artemiev.
How did you get into teaching art classes?
After approaching GPAC about utilizing their rehearsal space for a new theatrical production that I would be writing, Tom (GPAC’s senior manager) informed me about an upcoming teaching artist position and I applied. I was thrilled to meet with Lesley (GPAC’s manager) and learn that her wishes and beliefs on theatre education aligned beautifully with my own.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
I’ve had 5 star reviews and definitely less than that by critics, but regardless of the critiques, it’s the how my work personally affects individuals that remains the most memorable. An audience member after a recent production confided in me that the piece gave him the insight and courage to release a negative memory that he had been clinging to. I love learning the effective powers of theatre that result in real actions. The ability to raise awareness and educate audiences about issues in Tibet, the war in Uganda, and the injustices surrounding Hurricane Katrina are a few examples of what makes theatre my passion.
Do you think Indianapolis is a good place for discovering new art?
Indianapolis is an approachable city when it comes to creating one’s own opportunities. While other cities may offer plenty of opportunities already established, Indianapolis is great place to path your own path with success or failure and to continue to try and try again. So yes, it is a good place to be brave and make discoveries when it comes to art.
What do you enjoy most about creating your art?
Theatre’s ability to build ensemble and create empathy are the most enjoyable aspects for me.
I really love the rehearsal process and the opportunity to constantly play and discover; I try to take that same mentality into performance.
What advice do you have for new artists?
Don’t be afraid to take risks. In theatre there is no right or wrong, it’s about making bold choices and justifying your actions.
Where can someone go to see your work?
I regularly play Anne Frank at the Children’s Museum Power of Children exhibit. Also, on June 16th a production that I wrote and co-directed will be produced at GPAC at 7pm. Please come!
Is there anything else that you would like visitors to the GPAC to know about you or your work?
I love working with kids and encouraging their limitless imaginations and inspiring their creativity.