Taylor and Tony Moschetti know how difficult the past year has been for everyone – including children.
Younger children “haven't necessarily fully understood their emotions yet,” Taylor said.
That was the inspiration for the couple’s upcoming series of digital master classes, which focus on processing emotions, specifically targeted at primary school children.
"That's OK if you're feeling an emotion, but you also have to be able to self-regulate,” Taylor said. “So, it kind of teaches that we're in a really stressful time, so it’s an important tool to have.”
A mutual love of theater brought Taylor and Tony together in college. Since then, it is what has kept them passionate about the arts and sharing theater with their students in their latest roles as teachers.
Taylor, a Lake Havasu City, Arizona, native, met Tony, who grew up in Sierra Vista, Arizona, while they were both studying theater at Northern Arizona University. After graduating, they got married and began a new journey as educators. The couple eventually founded their own theater company, Laughing Pig Theatre, in Mesa in 2017.
“Being in the East Valley, in particular, we really felt like we weren't surrounded by the type of theater that we enjoyed,” Tony said. “And we felt like there were probably other artists like us in the East Valley who felt like they weren't getting opportunities to do the things that they wanted because a lot of the East Valley theaters do more traditional theater pieces, a lot of a youth theater, so, because we were in that area, I think it kind of was like a reaction to just give people a performance space that was a little bit different than the ones around us and get a little bit more of that downtown Phoenix vibe.”
Laughing Pig Theatre focuses on new works with “some type of viewpoint that is marginalized in a way,” Taylor said.
“They are stories that are really focused on the characters and their journey,” Taylor said. “And hopefully, like a big platform for us is building empathy in our community ... and like, what that means. So, doing shows that make people think about different circumstances in a different way.”
One day, Taylor saw a flyer for the Molly Blank Fund Teaching Artists Program (TAP) at ASU Gammage. After reading about the TAP program, Taylor and Tony both joined, spending a year learning the Kennedy Center arts integration method.
“I think the program really excited us, well, it excited me at least, because it took theater and made it even more important from a person’s standpoint that doesn't necessarily understand art or have a passion for art to the level that artists do,” Taylor said. “Like sometimes you need to get that buy-in from people that are just like, oh, yeah, STEM is important. But it's like, OK, yeah, STEM is important, but so is art, like, it's super important.”
Now, with theater and arts education both disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Taylor and Tony are utilizing the skills they learned through the TAP program to bring a new series of digital master classes to ASU Gammage.
“I think that we're so grateful for the program to exist at all,” Tony said. “Especially when so much art education has been affected negatively recently, the fact that they're kind of taking this opportunity to still give people a chance to learn something that they might not in a classroom."
With two of the three digital master classes in the series coming up in March, Tony said that the most important part of the classes is having “an opportunity to let kids play.”
“It's an opportunity to just kind of let them be kids in a way,” Tony said. “They can have fun. They can do that without putting themselves at any kind of risk. So, it's just important to find more ways to let your kid have fun.”
Get more information about the upcoming digital master classes.
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