Theatre Education at the Tonys!

My favorite part of the Tony Awards last night was Audra McDonald’s acceptance speech for her historic win of Best Leading Actress in a Play for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill. As a theatre educator myself, I was so excited when she thanked her parents for sending her into the theatre and supporting her as a performer from a very early age, as a way of dealing with her hyperactive behavior. Every time I work with young theatre artists I am blown away by their excitement and most importantly by their deep understanding and empathy that can translate so beautifully to adulthood and a life long love of performance, something to which Audra’s now six (!!!) Tony Awards are an incredible testament.

Just hours before the Tony’s yesterday, I was here at the Y for our Preview Day of the Teen Theater Summer Camp. In a workshop with Y teaching artists Ashley Griffin and Michael Sypa and Red Fern Theatre Company teaching artists Melanie Moyer-Williams and Elizabeth Flax, our students, ranging in age from 4th to 10th grade, created short scenes about issues that they face in school: gross and unhealthy school lunches to playground bullying. In these short scenes created over the span of an hour, these students came together in a new group and were empowered to make use of their unique voices and opinions. To me, this is what the theatre should be about, and over and over again, Tony award winners thanked the teachers and family members who supported, taught, and loved them from the very beginning. There was even an announcement of a new Tony that will be presented, beginning next year to Theatre Educators! I am so excited to be a small part of the same this summer here at the Y!

-Ashley Renee Thaxton, Assistant Director of the Teen Theater Summer Camp at the 14th Street Y.

Questions about camp? Email Ashley at or call the Theater Office at (646) 395-4322.

PS.  The 14th Street Y’s Annual Gala helps support great programs like our Teen theater Summer Camp.  Please join us for the After Party on June 10th, or feel free to Bid on our Gala Auction by visiting

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