Atlanta has a strong and growing creative economy. Everyday, we meet women who are on the ground working to break down barriers, build community, inspire, inform, and entertain the people of Atlanta through the arts.
For National Women’s History Month in March, C4 Atlanta will be curating a Leading Lady blog series celebrating the women in the creative economy of Greater Atlanta. Over the last several weeks, we have asked the public to nominate women in the creative sector who inspire and have positively impacted the Atlanta community through their contributions.
We are proud to introduce the Next Leading Lady for March 2019: Becca Parker
Where do you work and what do you do?
Artistic Director of Live Arts Theatre. Live Arts is a teaching theatre, designed to bridge the gap between community, educational, and professional theatre. I spend a lot of my time working with the school programs supporting them and teaching workshops. I try to teach the students that there is a place for them in theatre after graduation, regardless of the level at which they choose to participate. We also develop individuals who would like to be working at the professional level through our Intensive Program.
In my spare time, I work as a freelance Director, Music Director, keys programmer, scenic and lighting designer, and stage manager. I also serve on the board of Georgia Theatre Conference.
When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I have been interested in, and a part of theatre my whole life. I started out as an actor at a very young age and have been working in theatre ever since. I graduated from Shenandoah Conservatory in 2003, with a Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre and I also hold a Masters degree in Special Education. I have been the Artistic Director of Live Arts since 2010.
What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
A Broadway star! In my early 20’s, a mentor pulled me aside and told me that although I am a talented performer, I should look at Directing, as I tend to see the whole picture. When I finally listened, I realized she was right, so now I do more directing. This eventually led to my moving to Atlanta and taking over a struggling community theatre, which eventually became Live Arts.
If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
I’m going to name one who is alive and then a few who are no longer with us, because history happens every day. Those who are living are a part of creating tomorrow’s history. So, a woman I would love to have lunch with would be Susan Booth. There are so few women as Artistic Directors of large institutions, and I always enjoy meeting people whose work I admire. Not living would be Martha Lavey or Ellen Stewart. Both of these women successfully founded and built such amazing theatres and I would love to hear about the journey from beginning to end.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
That’s a tough one. Probably my Nana. She always took me to the theatre growing up, and was an awesome cheerleader. After that, my husband Michael and the group known as my boys, who are my close friends and support system. They are always down for pretty much any adventure, and have always tried to support what I do.
How is art a passion for you?
How is it not? Seriously, there is not a day where I don’t wake up thinking of something going on with one production or another. I also fall asleep thinking about the next days events. I think my passion is also for people, and theatre brings people together. There truly is no better feeling in the world than watching someone do something that at the beginning they did not think was possible for them.
I’m actually living my passion right now. We at Live Arts are currently working on a production of Ragtime with Berkmar High School. Most of the roles have a student, as well as an adult mentor cast in them. It has been so great to see the kids being inspired by the adults, and giving the adults the opportunity to give back to our community in such a meaningful way.
What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
Equality and representation is extremely important to me. I believe in order to be truly equal, each and every one of us needs to be committed to the idea that every individual has something to offer and to then strive to discover what that something is. Each individual has a story to tell, and when we are allowed to tell them, we all become better people. To that end, a good deal of my work involves creating opportunities in the creative workforce for people in our community. Right now, Live Arts is still pretty small, but we are striving to have the makeup of individuals on our stage and working behind the scenes mirror the actual makeup of our community.
Last year, I was given the opportunity to attend the Berkshire Leadership Summit, where over 75 leaders from all levels of theatre got together for a long weekend. All 75 identified as women, and it was so wonderful to be in a room with that many amazing creative women at one time. One project we have done that came out of my time there was actually just completed at Live Arts. Each year, we do a reading series in February, where all the plays revolve around a certain theme. This seasons theme was Women in American Theatre, where we presented 8 plays by women of color. It was amazing for our audience to get to hear the plays that told so many different stories, and to get so many members of our community involved for the first time.
What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
The diversity! There is so much going on, which means there truly is something for everyone. I also love that we have so much representation at each level, and that we all work to support each other.
What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I hope to continue to create a place where artists can find a welcoming home in which to create theatre and grow as people. We learn something on every show and every project we do. Live Arts is not just a theatre. We are a family that supports each other in all endeavors. I hope to be able to help other organizations in our community, whether it’s developing an artist that may not quite be ready for one of the professional theatres, inspiring a student, or mentoring a community theatre on ways to make their productions/operations stronger.
Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
Facebook: Live Arts Theatre Company