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IPFW Alumna Gives Back to Community of Visual and Performing Arts

Dramagination Gloria Fall 2013 credit IPFW Community Arts Academy”

Photo credit: IPFW Community Arts Academy

Dramagination Gloria Fall 2013 credit IPFW Community Arts Academy”
Written by: Communicator StaffMarch 18, 2015

Written by: Samantha Whiting

Gloria Minnich describes herself as having been very shy in high school and did not participate in any activities. Once she began college at IPFW, she enrolled in a fundamentals of performance course and she instantly loved it.

“I loved the people in the class, loved the instructor, and knew I wanted to take more,” Minnich explained.

Minnich, an IPFW alumna, has used her theatre degree to give back to the community by both performing and teaching. Specifically, she plays a lead role as the IPFW Community Arts Academy professional acting instructor.

Performing in productions at IPFW, the Fort Wayne Civic Theater, First Presbyterian Theater, Arena Dinner Theatre, and as an active member of the Fort Wayne Dance Collective Touring Company, Minnich is immensely involved in the community’s performing arts organizations. Additionally, she has traveled to England on four separate occasions to study with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The IPFW Community Arts Academy offers professional instruction in art, music, theatre and dance for local students in preschool through high school. Minnich is the theatre instructor, and currently teaches five classes.

She was hired in the fall of 2004 while she was finishing her last semester as a student at IPFW. The classes for preschool and elementary children aim to combine creative motion with music and props. Minnich allows each child to choose what character they want to be and then writes a play based on those characters.

“I’ve had a student who wanted to be the car from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I said, ‘If you want to be a car, I’ll make it work,’” said Minnich.

Autumn Ault, a current college student, had taken classes from Gloria through the IPFW Community Arts Academy beginning when she was 11 years old and continued throughout high school. She describes Minnich’s classes to be the most engaging and fun in comparison to classes she had taken from other area instructors.

“Gloria is a wonderful instructor because she lets her class guide the creativity that happens, while supporting each of our individual talents. She believes in all of her students and encourages them to do their best, but she never pushes anyone outside of their comfort zone,” explained Ault.

Gloria believes that her theatre classes are helping the Fort Wayne community in multiple ways, especially those students who are considering attending college.

“Coming onto a college campus, taking a class, and getting familiar with the layout of campus, speaks leaps and bounds, it’s like, ‘I’m here on a college campus, I can do this. Maybe I can apply to college, maybe I can go to IPFW,’” explained Minnich. She also believes that taking a class through the Community Arts Academy eases the transition into college.

The parents of Minnich’s students have said that theatre class allowed their child to become less shy and gain self-confidence. According to the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, students involved in theatre “demonstrate an elevated self-concept.”

“You can help a child to develop their sense of confidence in themselves, or even encourage them to audition for a school show that they might not have otherwise done. [Gloria] really is a great confidence builder,” says IPFW Community Arts Academy Director, Melinda Haines.

Minnich explains that performing arts are the first programs to get cut from school budgets, and the main focus is on academics and sports programs. “If you aren’t feeding your artistic soul, then a lot of kids are just floundering. [Community Arts Academy] can offer an outlet to satisfy their artistic need if they can’t get it in school,” Minnich said.

In order to gain theatre-teaching skills, Gloria has traveled to England four times to participate in workshops with the Royal Shakespeare Company. During one workshop, they were taught how to introduce Shakespeare to young children in ways that they can better understand the vocabulary.

“When you are three and four years old, you are encountering new words all the time and you naturally pick them up. There is no fear of Shakespeare that you run into when you get older,” explains Gloria.

Minnich suggests to read as much as you can, and to study humans. The more you know about humans, the better you can portray them as a character in a play, she explained.

Gloria believes that some of the best actors are people with shy personalities, who are able to come out of their shell on stage.

When asked what her best advice is for aspiring actors, Gloria answered, “Learn as much as you can about absolutely everything.”