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Teaching Artist Spotlight: Diana Metzger

Diana Metzger is a playwright, screenwriter, essayist, theatre critic, and creative writer from Silver Spring, Maryland. Diana has been a teaching artist with Round House Theatre since high school. Round House commissioned and produced Diana’s play “Beach Week” with their teen performance company. She also wrote for the MTV scripted series “Faking It” and worked on the ABC Family show “Greek.” Diana was a finalist for the Humanitas New Voices writing award two years in a row for both comedy and drama writing. She received her MFA in Creative Writing at American University and her BS in Communication (Theatre Major with a certificate in Creative Writing for the Media) from Northwestern University.

We met up with Diana to learn more about her work as a Teaching Artist.

Tell us about yourself. What is your background, and how did you get involved with ArtStream?  

I’m primarily a writer (playwright, tv, fiction), but I have a real passion for teaching theatre. After getting my B.S. in Theatre from Northwestern University and my M.F.A. in Creative Writing from American University, I taught theatre to children through teenagers at Round House Theatre and was the house manager and volunteer coordinator at Studio Theatre. I got involved with Art Stream just this year through Silver Spring Theatre Company A director Natalie Zanin, whose son acted in my original commissioned play at Round House Theatre. She was looking for someone to help fill her shoes while she’s at her son’s college graduation—which is during tech and performance weeks—and I was so honored and thrilled to be given the opportunity.  

How did you first get involved in theatre?  

My parents put me in theatre classes at Adventure Theatre when I was six years old because I was painfully shy and didn’t like to talk. Theatre definitely gave me my voice, and I’ve been talking loudly and loving theatre ever since.  

Why did you decide to become a director?  

I’m primarily a writer, but because ArtStream is about helping performers craft their own original play and I’m really excited by and interested in helping lead that process of creation. 

Could you tell us a bit about the show you’re working on now with Silver Spring Theatre Company A?  

We’re creating an as-yet-untitled piece about food and restaurants and all the hardworking and unique folks that work in the foodservice industry. As a foodie and a Top Chef fan, this play topic is right up my alley.  

What is something the ArtStreamers would be surprised to find out about you? 

Probably what I said before about being shy before I got into theatre because I’m definitely considered quite a people-person and extrovert now!  

What do you feel is most important to teach your students? 

The power and bravery that come with trying something outside your comfort zone and sharing their unique voice within that new opportunity.  

What advice would you offer to someone nervous to perform on stage? 

The audience wants to watch you shine! They’re your friends and supporters, not your enemies. They want to laugh with you, and they’re not there looking for mistakes or slip-ups—they won’t even notice them!  

Please share an example of something that happened at ArtStream that really inspired you. 

I see how many students just jump in and own their part when improvising scenes. In all honestly, performing improv always makes me nervous because I’m very in my head thinking about saying the right thing. I’ve seen so many of the ArtStream performers jump boldly into an improv scene and fully inhabit their character and make bold choices. That energy and freedom in performance really inspire me.  

What changes have you seen ArtStream students make in classes and rehearsals? 

This is my first time with ArtStream, but Natalie and the rest of the staff that’s worked with some of these actors for a while will tell me that a certain actor was previously reserved or standoffish about performing. I almost can’t believe it because I see them inhabit their roles with some enthusiasm and incredibly clever ideas.  

What are you looking forward to most this spring? 

Seeing all the actors finding different ways to have fun and play with their characters.  

What is your favorite play or musical? 

Such a hard question to pick just one! For plays, I love anything Wendy Wasserstein—she’s a big hero and role model of mine. For musicals—I just saw A Strange Loop, and I really loved it and can’t stop thinking about it. I also love In the Heights. I find the energy and the music so moving and infectious and wholly inspired and unique. Also, I love A Chorus Line! That’s a big favorite of mine. I love anything with strong, unique characters and A Chorus Line gives such a range of different dancers’ points of view and experiences.  

If you could create a new play or musical about anything, what would it be? 

So much of my work across several genres is invested in the teenage, specifically teenage girl, experience, and so I always love exploring that time of life, which is full of big emotions, dreams, changes, and risk-taking.