Dawn McDonald

Dawn McDonald
Brooklyn, NY
Creative Non-Fiction, Fiction, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Acting, Improvisation, Storytelling
Adult Day Care, After School Program, Assisted Living, College/University, Arts/Cultural Organizations, Community Center, Correctional Facilities, Hospital, Independent Living, K-12 Schools, Library, Nursing Home, Senior Center

In 2009 I graduated from New York University with a masters degree in Educational Theatre. My focus as a teaching artist has been to help others discover the joy and personal discovery that can be achieved through acting and through devising and performing in original pieces of theatre. I've taught in prisons, worked in shelters for runaway youth and traveled to Africa to facilitate a theatre/literacy program for teens on the island of Zanzibar. With New York Cares, I volunteered with a creative arts program at an adult day care center in the West Village. Currently I am co-teaching an Improv and Acting class for older adults through The Hudson Guild in Manhattan. We are in the process of devising an original show made up of scenes, monologues and songs inspired by stories from the participants' lives. I have loved working with this population. They are thoughtful, brave and eager to jump right in. I can't wait to see them perform their own work in a few weeks!

When my grandfather lived in an assisted living home, he described the activities available to him and the other residents. I noticed it was mostly the usual offerings: bingo, chair aerobics etc...but no theatre. It was then that I first thought about facilitating a theatre program with older adults. I envisioned directing a play, leading an improvisational theatre class or guiding a group through a devised playwriting process. I was surprised to learn that very few theatre programs for older adults actually exist. Seeing the vibrancy of my grandfather and his friends, I knew that this was a group of people who still had so much to offer and so much to say. I wanted to give them an opportunity to express themselves creatively. In 2013 I participated in Lifetime Arts’ Creative Aging Teaching Artist Institute to gain more specific training in how to develop and facilitate arts curriculum for older adults. I have enjoyed using my experience to facilitate a theatre workshop for older adults in Manhattan and I hope to bring my experience and perspective to other individuals who are eager to express themselves through theatre.