Teisha Duncan is a first-year Performance and Pedagogy MFA student at the University of Pittsburgh. She spends a great deal of time teaching students, inside and outside the classroom. She is an actor, singer, educator and director who has been involved in theatre for over 15 years. Her passion for theatre transcend the stage and continues into the classroom environment. She believes that the Arts can be used as a tool for change therefore; she is a constant advocate for the duality between entertainment and education.
Duncan arrived from Jamaica this past fall to continue her goal of traveling to all corners of the world to experience people, places and things. She leaves her mark each stop along the way and she takes something from each encountered relationship, culture and artistic adventure. This has allowed Teisha the opportunity to bring with her, to new spaces, lessons and experiences that she can share with others.
Her objective is always to be a collaborator in the Arts, by using the theatrical tools and techniques she has honed along the way. As an educator, she believes in investing in the person first then the talent. In her classrooms, she tries to create a bold brave space where the students feel free to grow artistically by centering their focus on individual growth and creative freedom.
When meeting Teisha, the enthusiasm she has bubbles over in her voice, facial expressions and body language. Her gaze stays directed, almost trying to get inside the words being spoken, as if she could wrap them around her like a coat. She loves to listen and learn from others, taking that experience and adding it to her collection. Time spent with her conjures up the movie In and Out – specifically the collection of memories scene. The rows and rows of different colored spheres, each one holding a memory, that at any given moment, Teisha can recall to share with others.
She tells of her dream to form her own company, a place where “artists are constantly sharing and inspiring each other through their talents, knowledge and passions”. She can give a long list of future dreams and goals when asked, while staying completely in the moment. It is almost as if she is a tailor smoothly connecting the possibilities of the future seamlessly with the expectations of the here and now. She is excited teaching the art of performance. Teisha believes that the artist’s work begins with being a member of the audience first. It is from this vantage point that they seek their truth. The artist in them steps in, and through their talents, they either confirm what they have seen and truly believe in or they begin to craft what they hope to see inspired by what they wish to change in society and/or in themselves.
Teisha’s advisor, Dennis Schebetta, Head of the MFA Performance and Pedagogy program, states that, “Teisha has been an incredible student and teacher in our department. Her drive, passion and energy are inspiring and she brings students to life with that amazing spirit. She brings such a sense of professionalism from the real world and her beliefs in the power of theater to create transformation is evident in all she does. In addition, although she takes the work as a performer or teacher seriously, she does not take herself too seriously. She is a delight to be around and is always positive. As a performer, her work in the reading of Detroit ’67 in February was touching, powerful and moving.”
In the spring of 2018, Teisha will present her thesis class. She has started the process of crafting her ideas for the class, which will engage ‘the actor as storyteller’. She may also include masks, puppets, spoken word and choral text but the class is still in the early stages of design.
Teisha is enjoying her time here at the University of Pittsburgh. She speaks of how supportive the school and the department has been to her. Her smile is contagious and her concern for each individual that she meets is genuine. She is looking forward to spending a bit of time this summer getting to know the rest of Pittsburgh. She is amazed at how rich in culture and history the city and the people are here. She immerses herself fully in this space and time thus fully experiencing her surroundings. She plans to leave an open space for her return and take a small bit with her to the next stop on her journey.