Kandace Crystal is an SDJT teaching artist and is currently working with Junior Theatre as the director of The Snowy Day and Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats. She was recently recognized by the Times of San Diego for directing two of San Diego’s top plays of 2021!
Kandace’s experience working with theatre kids goes way back. She believes there is an incredible connection one builds when working with theatre kids that you don’t get anywhere else. She says, “If the deep dive into social and emotional issues in a theatre class helps to transform one child’s experience as they navigate the muck of life, I am happy to be a part of that journey.” One of Kandace’s all-time favorite experiences was teaching a mime class at Nativity Prep, sharing that the kids were such naturals and jumped in feet first. Kandace has been a teaching artist at Imagine Brave Spaces, Blindspot Collective and Trinity Theatre Co., among others. “It’s one of those positions that I keep coming back to because it really keeps me in touch with the human side of this theatre world.”
Kandace began as a JT teaching artist this past summer and shares, “I didn’t know what to expect but the transition was so easy because the kids were awesome, the aides were professional and the environment allowed me to thrive as an artist and educator.” Her highlight from the summer was creating puppets with her students. “Building puppets from scratch allows for character development in a way that we may not have considered before. JT’s partnership with Animal Cracker Conspiracy for the puppetry in The Snowy Day is allowing the actors to explore this different medium.
When asked what drew her to directing, Kandace shared, “Everything in me tried to stay away from directing. But I was drawn to it, as I love putting the elements together in unique ways while helping people see themselves reflected on the stage and in these stories.” Someone in the field whom Kandace admires is Ava DuVernay, as both a storyteller and educator. “Her commitment to uplifting other storytellers is an admirable feat and that is something I hope to do as I continue in my career.”
Kandace shares that a snowy day is the perfect backdrop for what it means to be a kid and directing The Snowy Day is allowing Kandace to explore a beautiful story with a diverse cast. And, of course, there is the chance to work with puppets. “As an actor, I had to work alongside a puppet in the show Fuddy Meers. Watching the intricacy that goes into building and operating a puppet intrigues me and I am excited for this opportunity to learn along with my actors as we work hard to get this show up and running.”
She believes that working with youth is a fascinating experience; to see the world through the eyes of kids today. Kandace wishes to remain a student to the craft. “Through it all, I hope to be a student at all times, as they help me continue to grow to be the best collaborative and educational director I can be.”
It should be noted that Kandace is not a fan of spare time. She has been working toward becoming a fully certified Intimacy Director/Coordinator, is Co-Chair of San Diego’s Theatre Alliance and just began a new position as San Diego Repertory Theatre’s Community Engagement and Partnerships Manager.
Kandace will be teaching a JT Studio workshop for our winter session: Tips, Tools and Trick for the Pre-Professional Actor. For more information, and to register, follow this link.
The Snowy Day and Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats opens on January 21 and runs through January 23. For more information, and to purchase tickets, please follow this link.