Jessica: First Oral History

I interviewed Simone Becker about her extracurricular activities that link the Muhlenberg Theatre Association with the wider Allentown community. Through her work previously as Community Engagement Chair of the MTA, her continuing work as a regular participant in the community engagement theatre events, and her upcoming studio production, Simone is helping to bring theatre and theatre education to the students of Allentown. Not only is she participating in teaching theatre to students from elementary to high school, but she has expanded her studio production to reach beyond Muhlenberg and into schools. Studio productions, sponsored by the MTA, normally have a few performances over the course of one weekend, but Simone has scheduled additional performances set to take place at nearby schools. In this interview she discusses how these two community engagement events were formed, how they will hopefully impact the students, and why they are important tools for change.

The biggest challenge that I faced during this interview was figuring out what questions to ask next. I knew that I had to be prepared to go in different directions, depending on how the conversation went, but it was still challenging. There are long pauses between questions as I figure out what question to ask next and how to properly phrase it. This was also challenging because my attention is split between listening to the narrator and trying to think of a question that follows up on what she was saying. I am interested to see if I am less comfortable doing my next interview, because I will most likely be interviewing someone that I am not as close with. Also, I have discussed Simone’s community engagement projects with her in the past, and I am a part of the MTA (I even went to one of the high schools to help teach one week). With a narrator that is discussing protest, I probably will not have as much previous knowledge about the person or events.