Here is your chance to get to know one of our Performing Arts Education teachers a little bit better. Jennifer Bennett teaches Theatre Exploration, Intro to Improv for Kids, and the LAC Ukulele Orchestra. She will be performing as the musician this weekend in Balloonacy.
What is your goal as a teacher?
My big goal is to give everyone the freedom they need to develop into the artist that they want to develop into. That requires a strong base of skills, and once you get those down, then all kinds of possibilities open up. In ukulele orchestra, for example, my goal is performance. I want students to develop an ability to someday believe that they can form a band; that they can get together with friends and create something out of nothing.
How did you end up playing ukulele?
I was living in Spain, and I was playing the mountain dulcimer and singing in a folk band. I noticed some American students were coming and bringing the ukulele and singing folk music with it. I decided to get myself a ukulele, too. After I got the ukulele, I decided to form a vintage jazz band. I just learned by default, really, but I’m so glad I did. It’s a great instrument for accompaniment.
What has your favorite project been?
I think my very favorite project was my vintage jazz band. We built it from nothing. We were just able to turn it into whatever we wanted to turn it into. It gave the people who had strict jazz training an opportunity to really play around, have fun, and turn it into almost a vaudeville show.
Where did you start as a theatrical artist and musician, and how did you diversify your skills?
I’ve always loved theatre. I’ve always loved being in shows, and I’ve been in shows from an early age. Then, when I found out I could sing, I started performing in every musical I could find. I majored in Theatre and English at the University of Kansas and later went on to get my masters in Theatre Production. These things just happened to fall into place for me wherever I went, because I would find a theatre and then make it work. I believe that I’ve had a really broad base of training, and that gives me the opportunity to play around in all kinds of different creative fields.