By Mitch Marquez, miARTS Teaching Artist
I’m very lucky to have stumbled upon Mirror Image Arts. I wasn’t looking for anything even in this realm of work. I wasn’t really looking for work in theater, I definitely wasn’t looking for anything having to do with education or working with people in the community. I was kind of just slowly wandering through the Denver film scene. A friend from an acting class mentioned this opportunity and honestly I didn’t understand much about it beyond that it was a chance to act. The more I learned, the more interested I was and I couldn’t find any reason not to try it out. I turned out to be a strong believer in what the program was doing. It’s so important to address community issues and work to build social skills at a young age. The arts have the ability to do that in a very effective way.
I had very little experience with kids. I don’t think I had ever performed for a child before starting with Mirror Image Arts. I really didn’t know how perceptive kids could be. The aspects of humanity that translate between adults and children are staggering. Life is life. It’s cool to me that we can live so differently day to day but when it comes to dealing with people, we are the same. The kids are able to engage with these characters and empathize with them in such an impressive way; they always want to help. I love during our program when I am in character as TJ or Alex and I have the chance answer the kids questions or hear their advice. It’s always really satisfying to have a kid hone in on an issue you’re having and work it out with you.
The work is hard. It’s not the type of thing I feel I can show up and just go through the motions, kids see through the facade and will easily check out. I feel like I’m constantly going outside of my comfort zone. Interacting with people doesn’t come easily for me and having to perform at the same time is a serious challenge for me. Life can be so isolating and the fact that I have so much in common with kids from all walks of life is a nice way to step off the island back to humanity. My biggest gain from my experience so far is how special the feeling of community is. It’s something I was aware I was missing but didn’t realize how important it was.
I feel lucky for this experience, it truly inspires me. I needed to do something that was based on something other than myself. Ironically it’s helped me in a lot of ways. It provides me a regular chance to practice my craft while teaching me things that have helped ground me. I’m very thankful for that.