BAR HARBOR, ME—College of the Atlantic will begin the 2012-2013 academic year with a fulltime theater teacher for the first time ever. Jodi Baker, who has an extensive acting and education background, begins teaching at COA this September with an introductory course, Elements of Theatre.
Baker holds an MFA from the National Theatre Conservatory of the Denver Center for Performing Arts. She has acted with numerous theater companies, from New York City to Los Angeles, and has worked in film, television and commercials. She has also been a guest instructor at several New England colleges and developed coursework for The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Program at Mt. Holyoke.
Says Baker, “The faculty and staff, and especially the students of COA, sold me. More than any place I have ever worked, COA seems to stimulate and support an extraordinary level of research and creativity and collaboration. I think that’s what inspires truly significant learning—learning that can be put to good use. For me, this is also the fundamental criteria for really great theatre work. I think I understood that COA was, in theory, a fascinating sort of educational experiment; in practice, it is quite exceptional. I’m so excited to be a part of that.”
Baker began her career as a movement artist, training and performing with a classical ballet company in upstate New York before turning to theater. In addition to her MFA, she studied in England and the United States with members of The National Theater of Great Britain and The Royal Shakespeare Company; toured with an original production through Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan; performed on the streets of Paris and Amsterdam, and at the International Street Theatre Festival in Avignon. She was a founding member and the first Director of Outreach for the innovative Los Angeles-based theater company Circle X. More recently, she has collaborated with The Double Edge Theatre Company of Ashfield, MA and this spring, she researched and trained with Rena Mirecka, founding member of Grotowski’s Theatre Laboratory.
Appropriate for COA’s interdisciplinary curriculum, Baker says she is “deeply committed to welcoming students to theatre studies who don’t necessarily think of themselves as ‘theatre types.’ I work hard to help students make meaningful connections between other interests or disciplines and theatre work—theatre should be a vital and integral part of the academic experience, as it is integral to the human experience.” In that vein, Baker has focused on bringing art and performance to unconventional locations, including producing a recent performance project in the bakery aisle of a rural Massachusetts grocery store.
Baker joins a college community ripe for theatrical exploration. Working on their own, without professional guidance, COA students have written and directed their own plays every year for the past three years, created innovative classic performances for four years running, and this year staged five acclaimed productions.
College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit www.coa.edu.