Marsha Gildin is passionate about connecting individuals, communities, cultures, and generations through the art of personal story and performance. Through drama, puppetry, movement, writing, storytelling, sign language, and song she has worked with students of all ages and different abilities. Marsha finds joy, power, and meaning in seeing people discover their best self, give voice to what moves through them, and connect with one another’s stories in community. She has worked extensively with Elders Share the Arts (ESTA) in New York City directing intergenerational theatre projects and gathering elders’ stories as well as supporting teaching artists and community culture workers as the ESTA Director of Programs and Training. As program evaluator for The Wave of Life project (Dreamcatchers Foundation, Mumbai), Marsha traveled to the tsunami-affected region of Tamil Nadu, India to bear witness to the impact of a four-year community regeneration program. It was there, in the Children and Community Wisdom Circles, that she witnessed the revolutionary evolution of young girls, women, and elders finding their voice, value, and capacity for leadership in affecting and transforming village life.
How Marsha has been staging the revolution: Marsha is thrilled to be part of Girl Be Heard’s Education Team and help cultivate a platform for girls with special needs to invigorate and celebrate their voices and sense of self. She just completed her 20th originally devised living history theatre piece with elders and 5th grader students in Flushing, Queens. Marsha facilitates Story Circles for women with early stage memory loss and leads Story Circles for people with dementia based on imaginative and associative play, engaging creativity, authenticity, deep listening, and humor to gather stories that need and want to be told. She recently directed the puppet theatre piece Journey to the East: A Modernist Rumination on a Thirteenth Century Chronicle, produced in Honolulu, Hawaii by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Marsha participates with the socially engaged Zen Peacemakers Bearing Witness Retreat in Auschwitz-Birkenau, a communal practice and contemplation on human suffering, genocide, life sanctity, and our individual capacities to act through awareness, love, unity, or violence. It was there that she met activists from the Lakota Nation and has joined in support of the Water Protectors. Mni Wiconi. Water is Life. Marsha holds a Master of Science in Education from CUNY Queens College and served on its Graduate School of Education faculty with focus on arts-infused curriculum design.
When Marsha isn’t staging the revolution she enjoys being an auntie, being a fish (swimming), walking in Ft. Tryon park, talking to birds (especially cardinals), singing Yiddish melodies, and daydreaming of Hawaii. Live Aloha.
You can also find her more recent writings in the Harvard Educational Review (Spring 2013) and The Reflexive Teaching Artist: Collected Wisdom from the Drama/Theatre Field by Kathryn Dawson and Daniel A. Kelin (2014).