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TU alumna promotes theatre for all

When Tara Moses (BA ’15) describes theatre, her vision extends beyond the stage into people’s living rooms. “Theater doesn’t just have to be for a bunch of people who can afford expensive tickets, sitting in one place, watching theater on stage,” she explained.

As one of the founding artistic directors of Binge Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., Moses has made a mission to open theatre on a digital platform for free. From theatrical actors to directors, everything is still based on theatre training, but they are not limited to a stage. The audience is sitting in front of computer screens across the nation. They film innovative plays by new playwrights, but Binge Theatre does not maintain the rights to the script. Authors can still market their work to traditional theatre companies. “At our core, what we are is a digital incubator for new works,” Moses said.

Growing up in Tulsa, Moses did not come from a life of privilege. At the age of 8, she auditioned for an orphan role in the musical Annie, which provided a safe place to go after school. Even at a  young age, Moses realized no one else looked like she did. As a proud Seminole, there was no stage presence for a Native American. “Being from a background that’s never represented on stage and from a socioeconomic bracket that really inhibits other people to come see the shows, that was always awful for my family members,” she said.

While studying in the TU theatre department, Moses learned everything from backstage lighting to dancing. She graduated with an emphasis in performance, stage management, directing, design and a minor in musical theatre performance and political science. At TU, she became a well-rounded professional by studying every aspect of theatre. “It blows my mind how many of my colleagues have never focused a light,” she explained.

“I’ve yet to meet someone else with that level of training and experience other than my peers at TU.”

She also found her voice to call for more diversity in theatre. “I have dedicated my work to accessibility and people of color by putting them on stage, behind stage, in creative meetings and executive offices,” Moses said. “Because there is an awful misrepresentation of people of color in this field.”

After graduation, with the help of her theatre professors, she landed the job of production manager for a new opera company in New York City, but it wasn’t long until she was awarded the Allen Lee Hughes Fellowship at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. Armed with a $10,000 budget, Moses coordinated the 25th Anniversary party of the fellowship program. From the executive director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities to Tony award-winning costume designers, the event was high profile. The successful event led to her winning the Thomas C. Fichandler Award, which is presented to young professionals in theatre. “They created the Senior Artistic Director Fellowship, that had never existed before; I was forging my own path,” she said.

Moses always maintained her creative side by writing plays; and her work Sections, which was produced with Furnace Fringe Festival in Boston, received a staged reading with the Echo Theatre Company in Tulsa. The play focuses on a racially ambiguous woman’s journey with her white, liberal, educated and feminist group of friends. “It sheds light on the flaws of human nature regardless of whether you’re a liberal, feminist or come from a prestigious school.”

These are topics that she discusses at the Berkshire Leadership Summit or at a director’s lab at Lincoln Center in New York City. Moses shapes the current theatre rhetoric on minorities in the field. Through these leadership training programs, Moses has met theatre professionals from around the globe. Currently, she is in talks with a director in Turkey about directing a new musical there.

Success in theatre is often contingent on finding big breaks, but Moses takes it a step farther by creating her own prospects.

“I either see an opportunity or create one, and then I say, ‘I am going to take it!’”