Jaysen Wright

Actor & Teacher

My Teaching Philosophy

My goal as an educator is to create an environment where students feel included and safe, where they are free to experiment even at the risk of failure. I am not a gatekeeper interested in “right” or “wrong.” I seek to create a dialogue with students, guided by my expertise, that encourages an investigation of intersectional identities and lived experiences to inform our practice of the arts.

I expose students to Western “inside-out” theater training that centers things like objectives and tactics and to Eastern “outside-in” theater training that centers the way that things like physicality, exterior mask, and breath can influence our feelings and thoughts. I also engage in a deeper exploration of self in which individuals gain greater awareness of their own baseline physicality, instinct, and perspective, so that when  

they are called on to create a character, they better understand themselves. By better understanding ourselves—including interrogating how our race, gender, sexuality, native language, immigration status, socioeconomic status, etc., shape our experience of the world—we can be intentional and deliberate about the choices we make as actors.

Ultimately, I ask students to articulate their own artistic perspective on acting. Having gone through a course in which they are exposed to a variety of tools and techniques to aid in their journey as actors, what have they come to understand as crucial? How do their intersectional identities and lived experiences inform their artistic choices?

Among the numerous benefits of this approach to teaching acting is the chance for students who identify as members of marginalized communities to embrace and celebrate their identities in ways that American theater (and American society) has historically failed to do. It also provides students whom society has encouraged to view themselves as the “default,” (e.g., white, male, heterosexual, cisgender, etc.) the opportunity to discover their specific intersectional identities and the ways they can use and challenge their perspectives in service of creating three-dimensional characters. Ultimately, my educational philosophy seeks to foster more thoughtful, creative, and distinct artistic voices and in the process, more empathetic, compassionate citizens of the world.

I am currently an adjunct professor of theatre in the Theatre and Dance Program at George Washington University’s Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. I have served as the director of Breaking Ground, an organization for LGBTQI+ people of color in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, that provides community and support while also creating an original, devised work that explores themes of sexuality, racism, transphobia, physical abuse, mental health, substance abuse, and living with HIV/AIDS through music, dance, spoken word, and theater. I have been a guest lecturer at Grinnell College, and have more than a decade of experience as a teaching artist at theatres and arts organizations throughout Washington, DC.