ArtStream: How did you first get started with ArtStream?
Sarah: I graduated college in May 2019. I had my bachelor’s in theatre with a focus on stage management so I was looking for any theatre job that was full-time. I also really wanted to move to the DC area. In June of 2019, I interviewed with Heller An and Doreen, who was the financial manager at the time. I was so excited to find a job doing theatre that mixed together my love of telling stories and helping people. Because I also have a psychology minor, working with people with intellectual and developmental differences and theatre was right up my alley. I really love the mission at ArtStream and what we do is really cool.
ArtStream: Why do you think ArtStream’s mission is important?
Sarah: When I first came here, I learned about this thing called the services cliff, where people with IDDs have lots of services dedicated to them when they’re under 18 years old. As soon as they graduate high school, a lot of these programs drop off because a lot of the programs are aimed at special education for children. Once they’re adults, they don’t really have that much support. While the world is changing and getting better with more programs available, back when ArtStream first started, there was almost nothing like it. It started out of necessity, I think, to give people with IDDs an outlet to perform and express themselves.
I’m lucky enough in rehearsals to see the process from beginning to end. There were some actors who, when I started, were nonverbal or had a tough time making decisions. Doing things like having one line in a song or speaking through the persona of a puppet was huge. I think it’s important because everyone deserves a chance to be creative and express themselves.
ArtStream: What is the biggest lesson you learned while working here?
Sarah: I am a lot better now with boundaries than when I started. I think if you knew me when I started, I probably was the kind of person who would answer your email in five minutes, even if you emailed me at 3 am on a Tuesday. I wanted to be good at my job and have everyone feel supported. Over time, I’ve gotten a lot better at saying these are my hours of availability and letting the teachers know it so I can have a better balance, which helps me actually do better at my job. When I take care of myself, somehow, it makes me better at ArtStream.
ArtStream: What are you going to miss the most about ArtStream?
Sarah: I’m going to miss the connections. I’m going to miss getting to talk with actors like Ben every single day because they call me. I’ll miss the opportunity to walk into a rehearsal and just feel like I’m part of a community.
ArtStream: What is one of your funniest memories at ArtStream?
Sarah: One of my favorite actors, Ravi, recently performed in this show called Game Overboard. Ravi played this character named the chef man, and he was so funny. Every night he would do something different that wasn’t really in the script, which made me crack up laughing in the booth because I thought it was the funniest thing. He would walk off the stage and make the Pac-Man noises like wacka-wacka-wacka-wacka. That’s one of my favorite moments. I think he’s amazing, such a fun person to be around.
ArtStream: What is one of your most heartwarming memories?
Sarah: When we went virtual for the pandemic, everyone in the world had a moment of despair. One of the things that warmed my heart was how positive the ArtStreamers were. They took what was a not-so-great situation and made it a positive experience. That’s another thing I will miss a lot – the ArtStreamers can make me happy even during negative times.
ArtStream: Now that your time at ArtStream is ending, what is next?
Sarah: In October, I start as a software engineer in training at a company. I’m going to learn how to write code, a computer language for building websites and video games. I’m excited to start training, which will be for 12 weeks, and then I get to work with their clients. Basically, I’ll be an IT guy.