Fresh take on theatre for all

Emily+Libera+sits+in+her+new+office+at+DP.+Photo+credit%3A+Ava+Canfield.

Emily Libera sits in her new office at DP. Photo credit: Ava Canfield.

Emily Libera is the newest theater teacher to work at DP. She said that she has felt at home on stage almost her whole life. She found her place in the theater and choir programs while attending San Marcos High School and partaking in private voice lessons. She said that though she seems entirely confident, she did struggle with stage fright. “Growing up, I was very shy, [especially] in early elementary school,” Libera said. However, she said she quickly found her place in the theater. “I started performing…and then I immediately found my confidence.”

After graduating from high school, she moved on to teaching youth gymnastics and playing princesses at children’s birthday parties. “I’ve always loved movement,” Libera said. Before completely realizing her dreams, she initially taught English. “I knew I loved working with students at a young age,” she commented. “But I always had the goal of eventually directing a high school theater program.”

It didn’t take long for Libera to get a job teaching performing arts.

Libera said that her young age doesn’t hinder her ability to teach; she has a clear vision of the ideal classroom environment. “I’m really looking for students who are willing to try, who come in every day with a positive attitude, who are ready to focus, and listen and have fun.” She said she always strives to challenge and enrich her students. “I love bringing in people from the community who are really just talented in these other fields where I might not be as strong, to come in and work with students as well as to make sure that they’re getting all of that learning that they need.”

Remembering her days as a performing arts student, Ms. Libera said that she understands what students require to thrive on stage. “I think something that a lot of students need is a mentor, or someone in their life, an adult, a coach, a parent, whoever, that sees all the potential that they have, and is willing to put in that time and effort with their student to ensure that they can work as hard as they can to get towards that potential,” Libera said.

This realization came from her own experiences being coached. “My high school choir director and theater director are both super influential people in my life. I spent a lot of time with my choir director…she pushed me a lot in my youth because she knew what I was capable of,” Emily said. She attributes much of her growth to her teachers.“I started to find my voice, both figuratively and literally.”

She hopes that she can do the same for her theater students. “I think being in the arts, in general, whether you pursue it or not long term is so important for any student. It just really helps them to find that self-confidence that I think a lot of students this age are working to find and maybe struggle to tap into,” Libera said. “Since I am a theater kid for life myself, I definitely see a lot of myself in my students and how I was back when I was a freshman through senior year.” Having meaningful relationships with her students helps to develop their ability to find their confidence.

“I’m definitely one of the younger teachers on campus. So naturally, I do relate to my students, I think pretty well. And of course, it’s only been a month here, but I’ve already been forming great relationships with all of my students,” Libera said. “It’s easy to connect with people in this program because we all share a love for performing.”

However, Ms. Libera is also ready to take a step back and allow students to take initiative.

“I love that I have a theater advisory board, I love that I have so many students who are willing to step up and help and run things…it really allows the students to take charge of their learning and their experience here in the program,” Libera stated. “It really allows the students to take charge of their learning and their experience here in the program.”

Her ultimate goal is to get students involved. Ms. Libera finds that they have as much to teach her as she has to teach them. As a director, she said that she is opening up as many opportunities for theater and non-theatre kids alike to try performing. DP’s Fall play will entail a production of a mystery novel by Billy St. John, The Plot, Like Gravy, Thickens. Rehearsals for the play are well-underway, and Ms. Libera is excited to present her first production at the school in early November.

Theater students are taking advantage of the leadership opportunities their teacher provides. “I love having a President and Vice President and people who are willing to direct our Halloween Maze, and people who direct and write for Holiday Package,” Libera exclaimed, “Ultimately, this is their education. This is their program. And so I want there to be plenty of opportunities throughout the year for students to get involved.”

Spring musical auditions will be held in December, a production process that Libera is particularly looking forward to, and that connects to her musical roots. “Musical theater is definitely my favorite. I loved musical theater growing up, it was all I did,” Libera said. She has maintained her skill in this field by continuing to write music. Libera has not stepped into the wings for good, as she still holds ambitions to pursue music and audition for local theater productions.

Ms. Libera said that she will continue to carry her passion for music and theater onstage and offstage while helping her students push themselves to do the same.

“I really hope to get students in the program in the next couple of years who perhaps didn’t think they would join theater originally,” she said.

Ms. Libera would like to remain at DP for long enough to make a lasting impression on the arts department and the entire student body. However long she remains to teach, she is determined to continue honing the creativity that has guided her whole life.

“Now that I’m in theater, I’m hoping to stay here forever,” she said.

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