Although she appeared in more than 75 plays in six different countries, acting was not Teralyn Reiter’s first career choice. En fait, elle n’a même jamais agi pendant son temps à l’école primaire.
Reiter attended Lander University in Greenwood, SC in 1996 to become a nurse.
“I started as a nurse and I took a semester of this,” said Reiter. “My teacher was in (the newborn intensive care unit) the whole time, so she kept talking about babies dying and I was like ‘I’m not ready for this’.”
Monique Sacay-Bagwell was an acting teacher who caught Reiter’s attention on the scene.
“She ended up being an amazing teacher and human, so I fell in love with her,” Reiter said. She remains in contact with Sacay-Bagwell to this day.
Reiter’s newly discovered passion and love for storytelling led her to earn a BA in Theater and Communications from Lander University in 2000 and an MFA from the University of Montana in 2009. She has moved to Damariscotta de Charleston, SC with her husband and son in June 2020.
“I had vacationed in Boothbay in 2019 and fell in love with the area,” Reiter said. “I love snow and winter nights.”
Currently, Reiter is directing rehearsals for a play she wrote called “The Over Woman in the Room,” which will be performed at the Lincoln Theater in Damariscotta on July 15, 16 and 17. .
The play follows the life story of Frances Perkins, the first woman to serve in the US presidential cabinet. Perkins served as Secretary of Labor for 12 years during the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration and is credited with passing the Social Security Act and the Fair Wage Standards Act.
Perkins was born in Boston and spent summers at her family’s homestead in Newcastle. The farm is now a National Historic Landmark.
“When I moved here, one of the first things I learned was Frances Perkins,” Reiter said. “So, I learned everything I could on her and I wrote a piece.”
Reiter received a $10,000 grant from the Maine Arts Commission last January to fund the production of the play.
“I thought I didn’t want to be the only person knowing about this, so I wrote a grant and got it,” Reiter said. “It was essentially a grant to help artists produce their work.”
Prior to receiving the grant, Reiter approached the Lincoln Theater as a possible venue for her play and appreciated their collaborative effort and willingness to let her produce her play.
“In Charleston, everyone is butting heads instead of working together, and the theater community here seems to have a lot more collaboration,” Reiter said.
Writing Perkins’ story was not the first time Reiter had written about a historical figure. She also wrote a play called “Finding Freedom: The Journey of Robert Smalls,” which is currently in production by the Charleston Gillard Center in Charleston, SC The play follows the life of Robert Smalls, a Civil War hero from North Carolina. Sud, et est devrait être présenté en avant-première en octobre 2023.
One of the acts that made Smalls a historic figure was the commandeering of a Confederate ship and sailing 17 slaves to freedom during the union blockade in 1862, according to pbs.org. Reiter discovered Smalls in 2010 while living in South Korea as an English teacher.
“Once in a while you need your English fix, so there was an English channel, it was like a discovery channel that I was watching,” Reiter said. “It really disappointed me to have to be in Korea to learn about someone so cool from South Carolina.”
Reiter was inspired by Smalls’ ability to rise above social oppression.
“That’s what draws me to Robert Smalls. He was considered less than, and he rose above it all,” Reiter said. Reiter moved to South Korea to take a break from acting, which she had been doing since 1996. Using plays as interactive teaching methods, Reiter helped students write plays based on Korean folk tales.
“I set up a theater program there to teach kids to speak English in a fun way, rather than from a book,” Reiter said. She has taught students aged eight to 18.
Reiter can read Korean but cannot speak it.
“They were already pretty good at English. My job was to help them become more fluent by teaching them various topics in English,” Reiter said.
In Lander, Reiter’s first acting performance was part of an ensemble cast for a play called “La Ronde” which means “La Ronde”. She portrayed the character named “The Whore”. The story follows the spread of AIDS in a town as the characters have romantic relationships with each other.
“It was very controversial at the time, as you can imagine in South Carolina in 1996,” Reiter said. “Some of my friends said it was more fun to see my dad’s reaction than to watch the play.”
From 2002 to 2006, Reiter went around the world with the Missoula Children’s Theater. She has performed in England, Germany, Italy, Turkey, South Korea and the United States with different theater programs. She also traveled in the 50 states to perform, except Hawaii.
“Hawaii was a vacation,” Reiter said.
Reiter founded his nonprofit theater company Storytree Theater in December 2011 after returning to Charleston from Korea.
“I found it to bridge the gap between haves and have-nots,” Reiter said.
His business taught students how to write and produce plays for schools that lacked the funds.
“I’ve written a lot of grants. The subsidies would finance us so that we can go to schools. The biggest was local to Charleston,” Reiter said.
Writing plays began for Reiter while working in South Korea. She wrote six plays including the plays on Perkins and Smalls. One of his plays, “Sweetgrass Salt Marsh”, was adapted into a children’s book called “Welcome to SweetGrass Salt Marsh”.
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