Our Mission, Our Values, Our Projects, Ourselves

The Hidden Room’s MISSION: We engage and employ the world’s top scholars, technologists, and theatre-makers to create the most accessible, immersive, entertaining, and educational theatre experiences possible. We specialize in bridging the gap between early modern classics and tech- forward new works. The result is a theatrical curiosity shop that rides the junction between performance and technology, past and future, what is accessible, and what is hidden.

Our VALUES are rooted in respect, kindness, empathy, and fostering a greater understanding of each other and ourselves through theatre. We believe that through telling stories, we explore and celebrate the ways in which we are different, and the ways we are the same regardless of color, background, social-economic status, geography, or indeed, the time in which we are born.

Our VISION is to create impactful work that is highly accessible, educational, empathetic, innovative, and interactive – starting locally, and rippling out internationally by way of:

  • acting as a living laboratory for world-renowned scholars;
  • developing innovative new work that experiments with audience immersion;
  • making theatre as accessible and interactive as possible through digital performance and other technology-based innovations;
  • bridging what we believe is an imaginary gap between early-modern and modern theatre;
  • fostering a family of artists of diverse racial backgrounds, age, size, genders, sexual orientations, religions, and abilities so that they can represent a broader spectrum of Austin’s populace, and bring a wealth of experience to our theatrical table at the height of their creative powers.

The Hidden (class)Room’s MISSION is to improve 4th – 12th grade students’ communication skills, empathy, expression, reading comprehension, and confidence through exploring Shakespeare as actors rather than just readers. These active workshops get students on their feet, performing together, inhabiting characters of different genders, skin colors, socio-economic backgrounds, and communication styles from their own. The workshops also teach such practical life skills as eye contact, speaking in public, listening well, and empathizing with others – all excellent tools to be a better and more confident person.

We offer these workshops for students and teachers 100% free of charge to anyone who requests them, and our outreach for the program hopes especially to reach schools who may not have the discretionary funds to bring in additional arts programs.

Beyond the individual students that each workshop reaches, the program’s benefits ripple out by providing educators with theatre director-style tools so that they can more easily teach the works of Shakespeare as living plays to their other students. Since the program’s launch in 2017, we’ve served over 2000 kids throughout Texas, but focus our efforts here at home in Austin. 

We do have one selfish hope from these workshops – that we are helping develop early skills of future Hidden Room actors, who will better represent Austin’s beautiful diversity.

The Hidden (class)Room was developed under the supervision and guidance of two Austin-based educators with the goal of being as effective as possible while meeting TEKS standards.

Our new INITIATIVES

The Hidden Storybook is a series of reimagined and culturally diverse classic story adaptations in which the listener/receiver embodies the role of the protagonist. It seeks to infuse our digital work with the values that we embrace in our live theatre work: respect, kindness, empathy, and fostering a greater understanding of each other and ourselves through performance. We believe that through telling stories, we explore and celebrate our similarities and our beautiful differences regardless of background, social-economic status, geography, personal physical limitations, or age – whether we are sharing a communal experience in person or in a virtual space.  As we believe that art enriches lives, we also believe that art enriches the digital landscape. 

The Hidden Workshop Series will bring together diverse voices of expertise to help address our community’s most pressing problems. We will find ways to gather safely in a time where the pandemic limits face to face meetings, but still allow these workshops to be personal, connected, impactful, and inspiring. This program is being guided by our Board Member and Research Chair, Dr. Farah Karim. Dr. Karim has most recently spearheaded the Globe Theatre’s excellent Shakespeare and Race symposium. You can read more about her work here.

We continually look for new ways to better serve our community, and be a better arts organization. We welcome your suggestions and your feedback.

OUR BOARD LEADERSHIP

Andrew Rodriguez, President

Djahari Clark, Vice President

Amy Minor, Treasurer

Dr. Farah Karim – Research Chair

Indiia Wilmott, Committee Chair

Beth Burns, Executive Director

OUR ADVISORY BOARD

Robert Matney, Technology and Arts Advisory Board

Judd Farris, Education and Arts Advisory Board

Jennifer Jennings, Education and Arts Advisory Board

Isto Barton, Outreach Advisory Board

Katy Thompson, Advisory Board

A Message from our Artistic Director

A Message from our Artistic Director

TRANSCRIPT

Hey, Hidden Roomies, it’s Beth Burns here, Artistic Director for the Hidden Room Theatre, and we’ve got some exciting news that we hope you’ll get a kick out of. Before we get there, I want to reassure you that Hidden Room is okay. And everyone inside of it is currently okay. From all of us, we just wanted to make sure that you know that we’re thinking of you, and that we are with you in these difficult times.

I think that art has always been a part of making life more joyful, and in times of adversity, art can ease, it can inspire, it can comfort, and connect. We take this responsibility very seriously, so we have been working quietly to do just that.  Until now, when we can finally make some noise about it!

9 years ago when Hidden Room started work integrating networked technology and theatre with “You Wouldn’t Know Her” and “Girl With Time in Her Eyes,”  – those plays were driven by our embrace of story telling in more accessible ways. We knew then it would be important for theater to evolve, but we had no idea we were actually laying early groundwork for this particular moment where gathering together digitally would become a necessity.

Building on that early experimentation, we have a new project I’m incredibly proud of: The Hidden Storybook.  It’s theatre that will be delivered to individuals via smartphone app that we hope will fire your imagination, and keep you moving.  We plan to release a beta test to a small group of our Hidden Room family, and we really hope that you’ll help us by playing and giving us your feedback.  We think it’s going to be so much fun.  Much more to come on that.  

Next, we’re adapting the Hidden (class)Room to help support online learning as well as entertainment.  We’ve already begun providing free online workshops for any teacher who requests it, so please send your teachers our way and the next step is for us to start recording significant plays from culturally diverse origins that are either often taught, or that we believe should be taught. Great plays that can foster a lifetime of deeper enjoyment of the arts, and that increase representation, empathy, and a feeling of connection to our fellow humans.  These radio-style plays will come along with along with dramaturgical commentary and study guides, and they’ll also be available to the general public.  We know it doesn’t replace live performance, but we hope it will encourage listeners to just close their eyes and imagine, put themselves in different shoes, and value the experiences of others through some really exceptional drama.  

Here’s a crazy marker – Happy anniversary to us!  We turn 10 this year, and we were originally going to have a big blow out cocktail speakeasy, and it was going to be tons of fun.  In lieu of that, please be on the lookout for our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages for a week-long online commemoration of what we’ve achieved this last 10 years together.  That’s going to culminate with some fun opportunities for us to socialize together.  

Finally, I just want to let you know that we miss you.  And we hope that you know that Hidden Room is not just a place to go for theatre, but that we are your friends.  And that if you want to talk to someone, if you want to hear a quiet sonnet just for you, you want to talk Shakesnerd stuff, if you just miss us back, please just reach out.  Call us.  Write us.  Let us know what you need art-wise, and just practically.  Whatever it is, please drop a line beth@hiddenroomtheatre.com, and we’ll do everything in our power to connect with you, and help you however we can.  

That’s it from us.  We love you guys. Happy 10th year anniversary, Hidden Roomies.  Now let’s take good care of ourselves, and take excellent care of each other.

Beth Burns