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Arts Toolkit

Arts Toolkit: Drama

Kentuckians in Theater

Education Director Jeremy Kisling
Lexington, KY

Who Jeremy Kisling, the education director at Lexington Children’s Theatre, has taught acting and theater arts to young people in Iowa, Texas, Washington, and Kentucky. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Iowa and his Master of Fine Arts in drama and theater for youth from the University of Texas at Austin. Each year, Kisling directs two or three productions at LCT and assists in the development of the company’s original works. He also serves as the Playwright Network chair for the American Alliance in Theatre Education and on the board of the Kentucky Theatre Association. He teaches at the University of Kentucky and Georgetown College.

What “As education director, I’m involved in outreach, so when children come to our theater, it’s more than just a field trip experience for them. It’s an enriched experience. I create materials for the teachers to use in the classroom before and after students see a play. We also have a theater school for students ages 4 and up, and I teach and train other teachers as well. And we have something called Company B, which is a training program for high school students seriously interested in theater as a career.”

When “Theater is a job that requires your full attention sometimes, and your not-so-full attention other times. You work when it’s needed—14-hour days sometimes, and then there will be days when you’re not working on anything. I’m better in the morning when it comes to writing and organizational things. Then sometimes I go to the gym in the afternoon, and come back and teach classes in the late afternoon and evening. I also teach from 10:00 to 1:00 on Saturdays.”

Where “I work in our offices, in the theater, in schools, and in community centers.”

How “An education director is required to do three things: You have to be an administrator—dealing with budgets and hiring teachers. Then I’m an educator—writing curriculum, working with teachers and students. And I’m an artist. I need to be creative and imaginative and think of different ways to solve problems [in theater], like how to make Harry Potter fly on a broomstick [on stage]. I’m a teaching artist. Time management is my greatest challenge.”

Why “Every child who walks through my door has to have a quality experience that is fair and respects them. I’m meeting the needs of students and the organization. This morning I was working with 14 4- to 6-year-olds. Their imaginations will go anywhere. They don’t say, ‘That’s not possible.’ They say, ‘Let’s go for it, let’s do it.’ Seeing those ideas filter into their brains, seeing their eyes light up, is amazing. And it’s not just theater we need our imaginations for. That’s not always something they get to do in school.”

Getting There “I started doing theater—acting—when I was 12. By the time I was in high school, I was also doing stage management and lighting design. You need to be a Renaissance person who can do many different things well. It took me five years after college to figure out what I wanted to specialize in. I have a Master of Fine Arts in drama and theater for children. I have to teach playwriting, lighting design, acting.... Having the broad background serves me well.”

About the photo: Kisling encourages a student taking part in a drama activity.

600 Cooper Drive, Lexington, KY 40502 (859) 258-7000 (800) 432-0951