Kiggins Hall, the school auditorium, begins to transform with the massive chair migration accomplished during Morning Reports. The Emma Willard School community, working shoulder to shoulder, removed 400 wooden chairs from Kiggins to make space for the revelry to come. You might have been on-campus earlier this year to see the same space turned into a mansion of mystery and mayhem in the fall production of Clue. These venue adjustments are just part of the ongoing work of Theatre Director/Instructor Erica Tryon.
Erica has been the Theatre Director and Instructor at Emma Willard School since 2014, and is also currently serving as the Coordinator of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. She received her M.A. from Brown University and studied performance in London, Buenos Aires, and West Africa. As a proud member of the Actors' Equity Association, she has performed frequently in the Capital Region with Capital Repertory Theatre, Proctors, WAM Theatre, and Troy Foundry Theatre.
“I love being on the stage and living someone else’s story. I was in my late twenties before I realized that if I was directing, I’d get to tell lots of people’s stories. I love working with students and love watching them find their voices on the stage and off,” relates Erica. In her tenure at Emma Willard, she and her students have become masterful storytellers.
As the theatre director, Erica has brought a variety of plays to the stage—Clue, earlier this year, and Revels every year. In earlier years, she directed an adaption of the one-woman play No Child and the absurdist play Rhinoceros and continues to stage productions that have meaning and relevance to players and audiences. Auditions are taking place currently for the winter production of The Wolves. Selected from the 2017 Pulitzer Prize Runner-Up for Drama, Erica describes, “The play is composed entirely of a series of soccer practices. The Wolves revolves around the actions of the nine members of a high school girls' soccer team. It takes place in real time, with real conversation, and very realistic characters. It will make you laugh - and it might make you cry!”
In an earlier interview for Signature magazine, Erica stated, “I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m passionate about theatre as an agent of change. Our students are a socially conscious bunch, and various plays certainly get people talking.” In the last two years, Erica has also taken the roles as the school’s Equity and Inclusion Coordinator and chairs the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group. Her work with the students and with the school overall, demonstrates her commitment to change and helping the actors and audience gain meaning from performance.
Students find that working with Erica on these productions is inspiring and transformational, just like watching a set come to life. Considering different characters and thinking about how to embody that role really helps understanding. “I’m always astounded by Ms. Tryon’s knowledge of theatre and how her notes can bring life to a character,” shared one prior senior.
Erica herself realizes, “I have become a braver person just by auditioning for parts that terrified me!” Erica is passionate about bringing new and diverse voices to the stage, and about the potential for the theatre and the classroom as places of discovery and creation for radical empathy.