The Myrna Loy has been developing a relationship with the tremendous teaching artist Ilgaz Ulusoy Casey over the course of the past 2 years. Ilgaz has a masters degree in Cultural Studies, with a focus in Movement and Theatre, as well as extensive experience working to build inclusiveness in the arts. She moved to Helena after working and traveling around Europe with a mixed-abled theatre group, and has continued to work as an artist and educator in our community. In 2017-18, The Myrna Loy engaged Ilgaz to do a short-term residency with the Life Skills and Positive Behavior Support groups at Capital High School. Students in these groups deal with obstacles including blindness, autism, developmental delay, cognitive deficits, seizure activity, and emotional trauma, and PTSD. The students, teachers, and para educators were all so moved and inspired by the experience with Ilgaz that we have been eager to explore ways to grow and strengthen the relationship.
This season, we were delighted to receive a Montana Arts Council Grant to fund a long-term theatre residency with the Life Skills and Positive Behavior Support groups. For the past 9 weeks, artist Ilgaz Ulusoy Casey spent Friday mornings with the students, culminating with a 3 day residency on The Myrna Loy stage. Ilgaz introduced the students to a variety of physical and vocal acting exercises. She visited Holter Museum of Art and The Montana Historical Society with the students to inspire ideas for storytelling in her class. Each week, students were encouraged to create original scenes including new skills they worked on as a group.
When asked if they had enjoyed the class, one young man told me, “Yup, that was probably the most fun I’ve had in…fifteen years.”
Thanks to Ilgaz, Debbie Dorrance and Taylor Hassler, and the Montana Arts Council for making it happen!
(photos by Jason O’Neil)