September Spotlight: Introducing Actor & Playwright, Eric Sharp

* What’s your art form?

I'm an actor, playwright and teaching artist based in the Twin Cities.

* Will you share a piece of advice for actors, playwrights or theater enthusiasts in general?

The container is just as important as the content.

* How does teaching your craft to youth affect your own art?

My work in the classroom has completely changed my life as a professional theater artist. Working with youth to tell their own life stories in theatrical ways has really solidified for me the reason I create art to begin with.  I want to share untold stories, and help as many other people as possible to do the same.

* By the end of a week with you, what do you hope most students have learned? 

That their lives, their stories, and their creativity are not only utterly unique, they are completely necessary to tell a more complete version of the story of this multicultural country.

* What does being a COMPAS artist mean to you?

Any time I get to branch out into towns, communities, and classrooms that I would not have otherwise experienced, I believe it is a great privilege.  Being a COMPAS artist allows me to share my talents and help others understand the power of live theater.  The power of telling a story, and having that story genuinely heard.

* Why do you think arts education is needed in our community?

Because life is not a standardized test.  Teachers and schools are under so much pressure to raise scores, and track progress in known quantities.  Any opportunity I get to teach kids about what it means to experience life as an artist is one I don't want to turn down.  I don't delude myself into thinking that every student I teach will become (or even wants to become) a professional artist.  But that's the lovely thing about art; it frees you up to be better communicator.  It frees you up to start the conversation with the rest of the world about who you are and how you're going to make your mark– no matter which career path you choose.

* You are currently performing in Middle Brother, a play you wrote and star in. What is it about?

Middle Brother follows Billy, an adult Korean adoptee raised in Waterloo, Iowa, as he relocates to Seoul to live and work in his homeland for the first time in 22 years.  After teaching English badly for several months, Billy is just days away from giving up and flying home to the US when he is unexpectedly reunited with his older Korean brother. 

* What do you want the audience to take away or learn from the show?

An appreciation for what it means to grow up separated from your flesh and blood by language and thousands of miles.

* What has been more challenging for you, writing or performing your piece? Why?

As this is my first stab at playwriting, the drafting of the play was by far the most challenging aspect of the production.  The script has been in development for over three years, and we've been through many different drafts to get us to the version that's currently (finally!) on its feet and running at Mu Performing Arts.  Performing is something I'm very used to, so I was so happy to finally finish the script, and then dive into the acting portion.  It was the icing on the cake.  Luckily, I'm playing a version of myself, so I didn't have to do a lot of character research.

Click here to get tickets and read more about Eric's play, Middle Brother .

Showing now through September 28th.