Teisha Duncan

Teisha Duncan (MFA, 2018)

Why did you decide to go to graduate school?
 I knew from the beginning of my artistic and scholastic journey that ultimately, I would teach at the collegiate level; therefore, graduate school was always the plan. I had just completed the UK, Ireland and Switzerland Tour of Disney's "The Lion King" and after 3 ½ years of touring I was ready to pursue my goal of achieving an MFA degree.
Why did you choose to pursue your degree at Pitt? 
My love for teaching directed my graduate interests to performance pedagogy. After a brief search, I discovered the University of Pittsburgh program on playbill.com. I researched the program and noted that the academic and artistic balance was what I was looking for in an MFA course plan. Performance Pedagogy was the central focus but there was a strong fostering of the student’s full artistic self. I wanted a program to bridge the gap between my actor, director, and teacher selves.  
How did the degree program help prepare you for your career? 
Within the program our pedagogy was nurtured on a wide scope through culturally conscious/responsive practices. I got the opportunity to teach areas of performance that were new to me. This strengthened my ability to learn and create courses within the canon of performance training. Some of these ‘stretch’ areas (Laban, Viewpoints and Boal in Practice) are now a part of my repertory as a teacher and artist. Additionally, I was able to explore and expand my artistic interests: creating courses and pursuing scholarship surrounding those interests. My time at UPITT heightened my awareness and application of future planning so all skills garnered then are applied now. I continue to grow in all areas of my life and career and I credit my time at UPITT for teaching me the buoyancy of optimism and working smart. Graduate school was difficult for me. I was unprepared for the hectic schedule, the social networking, the reading load, the balance of teaching and being a student. I had to learn multi-tasking and coping skills across the personal and professional platforms I was navigating. But as time has shown, those skills last a lifetime.  
What is your current position and what does it involve?  
I am an Artist-In-Residence {Acting} at Skidmore College. I teach acting courses from Introductory to Advanced level. Some of the courses I have taught at Skidmore college are Introduction to Acting, Intermediate Acting, Dramatic Literature: Caribbean Theatre and Advanced and Special Topic acting courses in Mask and Performance, Acting Comedy, Playing Tragedy {Greek Performance} and Playing Comedy {Farce} and Contemporary Scene work: Unarmed Stage Combat and Intimate Exchanges. In addition to teaching, I am expected, encouraged and supported to continue my artistic path as a Performer, Scholar and Director. I have continued to work, even during the pandemic, as a performer and director. I recently completed my run as “Shug Avery” in a production of the musical “The Color Purple” in New York, I was the Dramaturg for Mosaic Theater Company's production of Pulitzer Prize-winner Jackie Sibblies Drury’s play “Marys Seacole" and I am set to direct Skidmore Theatre’s Spring 2023 Mainstage production of Rachel LuAnn Strayer’s play “After Jane”.   



Thoughts and/or advice for current graduate students? One quote that kept me steady and joyous during my graduate studies was Rumi’s “What you seek is seeking you”. This quote encouraged me to stand in my agency and do the work as it comes with the confidence that I will excel and thrive. Be honest with yourself about how you are doing at every point of your journey. Listen to your body, your thinking heart and your feeling mind. Only you know the full expanse of the struggle so show yourself grace. Gather a team to support you and keep you feeling balanced, loved and supported; your relationships are essential to your success. Be strategic in your planning: Learn the power of ‘No’ and “Yes’. Always look out for yourself and curate your work with pristine precision, accuracy and clarity.