Laura Epperson, Theatre Artist
Laura spent the first 18 years of her life learning how to be a human in the incredible state of Iowa. She left the cornfields and hot air balloons to spend 4 incomparable years learning how to be an artist at the University of Evansville (IN). During that time, she learned how to be an adventurer when she spent a semester falling in love with Paris while studying at the Université Paris-Sorbonne. Pursuing a degree in theatre performance at UE allowed her to learn how to be a professional at some of the best arts organizations in the country, including Santa Fe Opera and Williamstown Theatre Festival. Since graduating, Laura’s spent the past 3 years figuring out how to be a professional human-artist-adventurer here in New York City. Whenever people will let her (and even sometimes when they won’t), she creates truthful theatre that challenges the status quo, inspires meaningful conversation, and sometimes simply makes ’em laugh. She’s been lucky to work with such vibrant collaborators as Everyday Inferno Theatre Company, Amios, Speakeasy Dollhouse, and is thrilled to soon make her international stage debut with the Prague Youth Theatre at the Prague Fringe Festival. Much of life in NYC is exciting (and overwhelming) to an optimistic, over-trusting, Midbest gal, but perhaps the most gratifying time came when Laura first learned what a teaching artist is and realized she had, in fact, wanted to be one her whole life. Since embarking on the incomparable path of teaching artistry, she has worked with SOOP Theatre Company, Wingspan Arts, and Community Word Project. Laura is passionate about helping young humans find, embrace, and grow their innate creativity and is immensely grateful for the opportunities she has had through TATIP to learn how to do so even better. It is because of TATIP that Laura’s life-long dream of becoming the theatre equivalent of Roberta Guaspari (and subsequently being played by Meryl Streep in the biopic of her life) finally feels like a realistic possibility.
“Since mid-November, I have been training, alongside fellow TATIPer Katie Cox, with Katie Issel Pitre and Max Albee in Ms. Johnson’s 1st grade class at P.S. 316 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. This residency focuses on using poetry and visual arts to explore the ideas of Community, Creativity, and Collaboration. Katie and Max are both wonderful teaching artists and mentors, and I have enjoyed spending time with a residency outside of my immediate discipline. Although I need only attend one more class in order to fulfill my TATIP requirements, I’ve grown so attached to this class and experience I think I may stay until they kick me out.”
“I’ll never forget the final hour of our last full-day workshop in the fall. It fell at the end of a trying week for our country. Most of us were still reeling from the Ferguson and Eric Garner decisions and our combined discouraged energy was a big elephant in the room. We ended class with a time for questions and reflections. It didn’t take long for one of my fellow trainees to shine a big light on our elephant, expressing her current sense of hopelessness in one of her internship residencies. She worried she wasn’t making a difference with this particular group and feared she’d never be able to. “How do you do it?” she asked, “How do you keep trying?” I’d asked myself this question more times than I wanted to admit, and so waited anxiously for our indefatigable leaders Patti Chilsen and Renée Watson to impart one of their treasured nuggets of wisdom on us. “You use each other,” Patti simply said. As our discussion progressed and became increasingly vulnerable, I looked around the room and felt a sudden, intense appreciation and admiration for each person in the room. Although none of us, not even Patti or Renée, had the answers or knew where to find them, we were all there together, committed to trying every day to make the world a better place by staying true to our own selves. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more proud to be a part of a group than I was that December afternoon.”
Read the blog Laura wrote about her experience at Summer Institute: Teaching By Example.
Interested in TATIP? Find out more about our 2015-16 Program!
See more of our 2014-15 Graduates in the 2015 TATIP Anthology!