Aimee S. Reid

Aimee S. Reid

Artistic Director

November 21, 2014

Organization:

Children's Theatre Workshop

Website:


We can’t really put a value on giving kids the opportunity to become involved in the arts early in their lives, which is something Aimee Reid does everyday through her work as the artistic director of the Children’s Theatre Workshop. One of the major players in the Collingwood Arts Center's revival, the Children’s Theatre Workshop is as much of a gem as the building in which it’s located, so we decided to catch up with Reid to talk about her current projects, her background and coffee. 


Tell us more about some of your past projects?

Let’s see. I direct about five plays a year, on average, ranging from very young child performers to university students at BGSU. Usually comedies, because I think comedy is harder to play than drama, but when I do a drama, I want it to really leave the audience thinking about what they’re going to do next—like when I directed EAT (It’s Not About Food) in October 2013 with the Teen Company, which was about starting a conversation on eating disorders and why they occur.

There’s not a lot of middle ground to my work. It’s usually wild and wacky, or fairly serious-minded. Sometimes I direct plays about aliens and robots, sometimes I work with homeless youth. Think of it as artistic crossfit. Minus the outfits and inspirational phrases. Also, I might not know what crossfit is…so if the metaphor doesn’t work, just ignore it.

What current projects are you working on?

I think I’m most excited about the Devising program that Children’s Theatre Workshop (CTW) started last year. The students, ages 9-12, collaboratively wrote four scripts during our fall and spring semesters, and the company voted on their two favorites. We’re in production now for our first-ever devised piece, The Gibler Family, which is about a girl named Natalie who’s bad at pretty much everything until she discovers punk rock. But she’s got a really straight-laced family, which makes things difficult on her. Except her grandma. Her grandma’s awesome. I love that our students are making their own work. Let me tell you, young people will usually write better roles for themselves than adults will write for them.

What advantages does being in Northwest Ohio/Toledo offer your efforts?

Well, I’m from the area—grew up in Whitehouse—so I know what it means to care about Toledo and wanting to see it thrive. I think I’ve seen the gamut of what the kids, families and schools are like here in Toledo and I’m always trying to think of new ways to reach and challenge people. I’ve spent some time away from the area, so I bring a little perspective, but for the most part I try to maintain a sense of the area’s pulse.

Tell us about one of your greatest successes.

In theatre, or in life? Because if you’re talking about life, I have to talk about my husband and kid and, well, that’s what Facebook is for, amiright? I love spamming Facebook with stories about my family.

But if you’re asking about theatre, one of my greatest successes was when I was working in a juvenile detention center in Phoenix, AZ, where I was working on a devised theatre project. One of the young women decided, during dress rehearsal, that she didn’t want to be involved anymore and that the whole thing was stupid. I told her that if she didn’t want to participate in the way we currently had her participating, she could pick a different way to participate, and I gave her some ideas. She picked which one she wanted and felt secure enough in her new position to continue. We had to improvise a little to cover her role, but it was worth it because she stuck with the show, on her terms. 

That was the first time I remember really enacting my belief that young people are people, and deserve to have agency in their choices. I call it my success because I believe that was when I really learned who I wanted to be as a theatre artist—someone who uses theatre to equip others to tell their stories and to empower them, not someone who treats young people like puppets or inferiors. It cemented in me the idea that my skill set gives me authority, sure, but everyone has the right to be heard and my authority doesn’t cancel that out.


Tell us who or what gives you inspiration?

The kids at CTW, and the people who are doing my job better than I do my job. Every year I witness young people falling in love with the theatre arts and the community we have at CTW. And young people are still in the habit of creating. Being with them keeps me also in the habit of creating, which makes me better at what I do. I also stay in touch with people across the country who do youth theatre as well, and many of them would blow me out of the water, professionally speaking—I find them inspiring and yeah, sometimes I steal their ideas.

Tell us about your background.

Currently, my computer background is a picture of my daughter having a tantrum and me, unshowered/no makeup/wearing a hat, smiling and giving the camera a thumbs-up. 

Also, to answer the question for real: I’m from Whitehouse, like I mentioned earlier. Went to Anthony Wayne for a while (Go Generals!) then graduated from Toledo Christian Schools (Go Eagles!). Graduated from BGSU with a theatre degree, specializing in Theatre for Youth/Puppetry, then got an MFA in Theatre for Youth and a Masters Certification in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from Arizona State University. I currently live in the Old West End (and I love it), which is way more information than I should be putting on a website, but hey, I’m feeling daring. I taught and directed for CTW a bit while Dottie Zimmerman was still the Artistic Director, and took over in 2012 when she retired. 


Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by?

“Is there any coffee ready?”

Favorite place for local culture?

Gonna have to say the Collingwood Arts Center, which is also where CTW lives. Lexi Staples and Colleen Eldridge are doing an amazing job bringing in performers, visual artists, the food trucks, youth artists, and providing opportunities for people who aren’t professional artists to try their hand at making art. They’re pretty awesome. (Also, Lexi owes me five bucks for that little shout-out…just kidding…but seriously, Lexi…)

Toledo’s “best kept secret” is . . .

First answer is gonna have to be CTW. I mean, we’ve been around for 60 years and it always surprises me how many Toledoans have never heard of us. It’s okay, Toledo, I forgive you. 

Besides us, the best kept secret is the grassroots efforts Toledo has going on. Toledoans are getting organized to support programs that make a big difference in Toledo: Toledo SOUP, Food for Thought, Soul Boxing. Toledo is continuing to grow into the kind of place people love to live in, and I find that exciting. 


My favorite place to chill locally is . . . 

I have a toddler and my body is 40% coffee. I don’t “chill.”

My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is . . . 

Oak Openings! It’s right around the corner from my childhood home and it is simply gorgeous.

When I’m not working hard, I can always be found at . . . 

…I don’t understand the question.

If you could change anything about the current landscape for creative, progressive people . . .

I’d probably change a prevailing attitude about what Toledo needs. I think that comparing our city to other cities is silly. Let’s become the best versions of ourselves instead of successfully copying someone else.

Any exciting collaborations (past or present) you would like to tell us about?

Did you know that the young people in the Toledo area are stellar storytellers? I collaborate with them all the time and the work they come up with is awesome. 

I’m also working with Leadership Toledo, which is a fabulous organization with a great approach to service-learning. They’re helping CTW improve some of its operations, and though we’ve just started our work, I’m already so encouraged by their excitement and generosity of resources. 


Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with.

Jane Addams of the Hull House. I know she was a social worker, but she really knew how to engage her community. And she did do some artistic-related work. She dismissed the “melting pot” mindset (an approach I think is silly because you lose some important distinctions when you melt!) in favor of an approach that valued every kind of person in the community. I like to think she would teach me a thing or two about how to do what I do, better. 


Name a CD, book or website you can’t live without.

Facebook. I love Facebook.

3 words that best describe me or my work are . . .

Caffeinated, Collaboration, Occasionally Incapable of Following Directions

Give us 5 Desert Island Album picks.

Okay, I have to come clean here and admit I thought Desert Island was a band I’m supposed to know about. I’m a little infamous for being out of touch with pop culture. 

…also, in deference to my aforementioned ignorance, I’m going to have to make that my answer. 


My biggest vice is . . . 

Coffee and donuts. 

I’d like to see  ____ in Toledo.

A fringe festival.

What’s the last dream you recall having?   

My CTW teachers and I were on a quest of some sort, and Brittany Albrecht, who teaches our 5 and 6 year old class, was answering all the questions and solving all the problems and getting really mad at us for not contributing. Pat nearly got us all killed more than once, Abbey hid in the back, Trina cried, and Sarah was being very helpful. I have no idea where Rick was. It was basically a reflection of real life.

The last lyric that moved me was . . . 

Oh, see, I actually am really bad about getting emotionally involved with art. I’m so used to thinking about it and working on it that I don’t find myself naturally connecting with it as a consumer. I have to be really careful to change my thinking when I go to see a friend’s work because I’ll analyze the buttons (that’s a CTW swear word) out of it.

One movie character I identify with is . . . 

On a good day, Lorelei Gilmore (TV, yes, I know) and on a bad day, Bridget Jones.

The best gift I’ve ever received was . . . 

Mercy and grace. Every day, folks… I get mercy and grace.

My most inspiring moment was/is . . . 

I don’t think I can pinpoint a single, lump experience, which actually works for me. I find myself getting inspired in small amounts almost every day. Today it was the first real snow of the season. Before that, it was hearing the students at CTW shut down a potential bullying situation. Before that, it was the feeling of my daughter giving me a koala hug. I like getting small bursts of inspiration.

I want my last meal to be…

Something I’ve never tried before, washed down with donuts and coffee.


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