A note from the Founding Artistic Director

I grew up in rural New Hampshire and was lucky enough to have Ms. Nancy Brennan as my high school theatre teacher. She exposed me to new and innovative theatre and instilled a strong work ethic that I have carried through my education and career. The importance and severity of teaching only grew during my time as a student at Emerson College under the tutelage of Dr. Robert Colby and Ms. Bethany Nelson. Teaching is not simply a job but life and death. 

Teaching in the public schools was always my path, I come from a long line of teachers and public servants including my brilliant mother who was the first speech pathologist in SAU 24. Teaching high school was one of the most incredible experiences of my life; the relationships that were built out of my time creating theatre with my students and colleagues shaped who I am today. And I am forever indebted to those students who showed me how to be the best person I could be.

I believe in a lifelong pursuit of learning and found that the schedule of public school was prohibiting me from gaining new knowledge. So I took a leap and moved to England to study Shakespeare. It was the most difficult decision I have ever made. Throughout my year in Stratford-upon-Avon, I felt a yearning to create my own work... and wanted to do that back home. Home in Asheville. Not everyone has the opportunity to go to art school and there are a lack of resources for my former students to continue honing their craft with professional, ethical and responsible teachers. The creative profession is a place that asks the artist to be vulnerable, to open themselves to a world that is filled both with great joy and wonder but also with tragedy and grief. It is my responsibility as an adult in this industry to encourage and cultivate those skills while providing a space where my students are free from objectification, manipulation and abuse of power. In the age of "me too" the sentiment of TIMES UP couldn't be more relevant.

I am thrilled to be starting work with former students and hopefully in future years young adults I have yet to meet. It is Venture Shakespeare that will train the next generation of theatre artists and theatre audiences. And that can only mean great things for Asheville and our Nation's Future. 

Warmest Regards, Kirstin Leigh Daniel