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Faculty Spotlight on Shawn Wright: Arts, Activism, and a Love of Learning

Oldfields theatre teacher and director Shawn Wright grew up riding horses and attending summer camps, and it was in the 10th grade when she was cast as Meg in her high school production of Brigadoon that she fell in love with theatre. After earning her BFA from Rider University, Ms. Wright committed to doing what she loved: being on stage. Now teaching, directing, and leading some of the DEI efforts at Oldfields, Ms. Wright is a dedicated and valued member of our community. 

Originally from Pennsylvania, Shawn has spent most of her life in the picturesque small town of Doylestown. Shawn grew up riding horses and attending summer camps, and it was in the 10th grade when she was cast as Meg in her high school production of Brigadoon that Shawn fell in love with theatre. After earning her BFA from Rider University, Shawn committed to becoming an actor and lived in both Princeton, New Jersey, and New York City, making a living doing what she loved--being on stage. Paired with her passion for theatre was one for social justice. As a teenager during the AIDS crisis in the mid-1980s Shawn shares “I must have been 17 or 18, and I would be at rehearsal with someone one day, and then the next day they would be gone.” It was in these moments that Shawn began to realize how poorly some people are treated in comparison to others, and she was determined to be a part of the change. 

When Shawn started her family, her priorities shifted. “I was running to evening auditions with my three-month-old son at home. My schedule was crazy. It didn’t feel right.”  Shawn and her family moved back to Pennsylvania, and it wasn’t until she was asked to direct a production of Peter Pan at the Town and Country Players (a regional theatre in Doylestown) that she found her calling as a director. “I was standing there with a clipboard and watching all of my work come to life. And I remember thinking at that moment that this was exactly what I wanted to do."

Shawn’s teaching experience ranges from directing productions with 100 students or more at large high schools and summer camps to the direction of smaller ensembles at independent schools and regional theaters. Some of her favorite productions that she has directed include The Drowsy Chaperone, Rent, Cabaret and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Shawn recently presented the first act of Christopher Durang’s An Actor’s Nightmare with her fall acting students here at Oldfields. And remember that small town where she is from? She happens to have been neighbors and good friends with the playwright himself!  

What does Shawn love about working in education? In her words, “It keeps me moving forward.” Shawn appreciates the process of learning about herself, her students, and her world, as well as the power of human connection in a shared experience. 

We are humbled by the commitment Shawn has shown to our school, its mission, and to the arts program. What’s next on stage for Shawn? She is currently directing our spring musical, Working, with an ensemble of twelve. The show is in rehearsal this spring and will be performed the weekend of April 30-May 2. 
 

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