Juneau theater maker teaches in Kodiak

Juneau theater maker and teaching artist Ryan Conarro, front center, watches April 30, 2013 as students at Kodiak Middle School perform stills that go with personal narratives. (AP Photo/Nicole Klauss, Kodiak Daily Mirror)

KODIAK — Students in Kodiak have learned how to use drama to improve their writing skills.

The Kodiak Island Borough School District brought artist and teacher Ryan Conarro to the community for a two-week residency as part of the Artist in Schools program. In bringing someone to Kodiak this year to work with middle and high school students, teachers were looking for someone who could blend theater and drama-based learning with writing, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reports.

“Ryan was one that quite a few people had seen before at different institutes, and they wanted him to come to Kodiak,” said Kodiak Middle School assistant principal Kendra Bartz, who coordinates the program for Kodiak. “Not all kids like to be up in front of people speaking or doing a drama piece, and I think this is a good opportunity for them to feel comfortable within that group setting, learning about it.”

Conarro graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts before moving to Alaska. He has directed two operas with Juneau’s Opera to Go and is an artist with the New York-based international company Theater Mitu. He has been involved in the Artist in Schools program for 10 years, teaching across Alaska.

The goal isn’t to make students gravitate toward theater but rather to help them develop skills like collaboration and risk-taking, he said.

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