Esther Newell: Theatre Teacher and Designer – Theatre People
By Mitch Stark
This week, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Esther Newell. Esther is a fantastic theatre teacher and production supervisor in Jackson, Mississippi. Esther works with her students to design, build and source theatrical sets, props, costumes and beyond. Hope you enjoy her interview!
Esther Newell, theatre teacher and theatrical design specialist in Jackson, Mississippi
What’s a show that inspires you? (explain away!)
I saw a production of Red by John Logan at the Alley Theatre in Houston, and have been in love with the script ever since. The philosophical discussions of art and art-making coupled with brilliant writing makes it incredibly inspiring to me.
What’s one of your happiest moments in theatre?
One of my favorite memories is working with a great production team at the University of Southern Mississippi to create A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams. I was very proud of the 1940’s quality and realism we were able to achieve; I love that time period, so there was a lot of “eye candy” in terms of the set and costumes.
What’s the biggest ‘fail’ or goof you’ve seen on stage? (do tell the story)
I’ve seen an actor who was playing a blind character walk straight into the frame of the proscenium opening instead of the wing they were shooting for!
Why do you love theatre?
I love theatre for its immediacy, accessibility, and ephemeral nature. This artform allows artists to connect immediately and directly with the viewer; this connection is extremely powerful and exciting! I love how theatre can happen anywhere; I love the ingenuity it can inspire. I love how it is only there for the viewer, that it is different every time, and disappears when it is gone. This is reflective of our own lives and reminds us that everything changes and ultimately ends, but that does not make it any less valuable.
Theatre is for…
Theatre allows us to powerfully see into other lives. This allows people who seek understanding, validation, empathy, hope, or change to see and experience it. This is true for both theatre-makers and audience members.
More about Esther
Esther Newell teaches theatre full-time at Power APAC in Jackson, MS where she also works as Junior Thespian Troupe sponsor. She received her BFA in Theatrical Design and Technology with a specialization in Costume Design and Construction from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2011. Before beginning her work as a theatre teacher, Esther worked freelance as a costume designer and stitcher at various professional theatres including the Tony Award-Winning Alley Theatre, the Nashville Repertory Theatre, and Mississippi’s only professional theatre, New Stage Theatre.
Esther’s focus in her work is on innovation and collaboration, and she is constantly interested in pushing the boundaries of education and art.