MoHo native Johanna Gorman-Baer shares love of drama as a teacher for Children’s Theatre Company
Mount Horeb native Johanna Gorman-Baer is currently a resident teaching artist at Children’s Theatre Company, the nation’s largest and most acclaimed theatre for young people. It creates theatre experiences that educate, challenge, and inspire for more than 250,000 people annually. CTC is the only theatre focused on young audiences to win the coveted Tony Award for regional theatre and is the only theatre in Minnesota to receive three Tony nominations. We recently caught up with Gorman-Baer to find out about following her dreams into the world of theater.
“I could talk forever about the work we do here, and also all of the amazing leaders in youth arts in the Mt. Horeb area that have shaped me and the work I currently do,” she said.
First, tell us about yourself. You grew up in the Mount Horeb area, right?
Gorman-Baer: I did! From the age of five up until I left for college. My family’s still in town and I come back to visit every chance I get.
How did you get involved in the arts?
Gorman-Baer: I’ve got photos from school plays I got to do as early as third grade! In middle school I acted for three years with a local youth theater company, PlayTime Productions, after seeing them tour through and perform in Mount Horeb, I participated in Drama Club and High School musicals, and I remember visiting American Players’ Theatre all the time in the summers and on field trips at school.
In what ways has theater changed your life?
Gorman-Baer: So many ways. I gained so much confidence in myself acting, and found my voice in a way I never would have otherwise. The kind of community a theatrical production creates is so powerful, and I started stepping into leadership more and more with each opportunity. The way students can take responsibility for each other and the artistic process is an experience that never goes away. Later on as I moved from acting to production management and stage management after college it helped me foster a sense of community and responsibility in my own theatre company.
How does your love of the theater translate to teaching?
Gorman-Baer: I want to give each of my students that sense of accomplishment and ownership over their participation in any group experience. The idea that each person has their own unique and essential role to play. If my students can be proud of their work and of themselves, they can advocate for whatever becomes important to them.
Tell us about your work at Children’s Theatre Company?
Gorman-Baer: I’ve been a teaching artist here at CTC for the last ten years. I’ve taught acting classes for K-3 students primarily, via summer camps, afterschool and weekend classes, and most recently have been more involved in our Creative Play programming for early childhood learners ages 2-6. In Creative Play we use trauma-informed practices and arts programming to promote social/emotional literacy and self regulation skills, it’s some of the most rewarding work I’ve done.