Student Interviews on the Impact of the Arts
The Burbank Arts for All Foundation is proud to highlight students in the CLASS OF 2020 who have been part of the robust arts community in Burbank Unified School District classrooms. We hope you enjoy reading about their experiences and getting to know them as we celebrate an important milestone in their lives: high school graduation.
Today, we present to you Ariana Kretz, who studied drama at John Burroughs High School. Ariana will be attending the University of California, Berkeley, this fall, where she will be majoring in American Arts with a minor in either English Literature or Theater Arts. Congratulations Ariana!
“There’s a misconception that to be involved with the arts or to have it impact your life you have to be an actor, painter, or other type of artist actively pursuing that work. That’s simply untrue.
Because of theater, I have become a strong public speaker, empathetic person, and someone willing to take risks. These traits will undoubtedly be relevant throughout my life.”
My name is Ariana Kretz, and I am 18 years old. I am actively involved in theater as an actor and student producer for JBHS Drama and have directed my own show. I also really enjoy writing poetry.
What was your first experience with the arts while in the Burbank Unified Schools? When I was ten years old, I somehow convinced my mom (who is also a theater nerd at heart) to start a theater workshop at my elementary school. That year, we put on Winnie the Pooh at McKinley Elementary in which I played Kanga. I fell so far in love with theater and developed lifelong friendships as a result of that production.
What art experience in the schools are you most proud of and how did it impact you? I am so proud of all the productions that I have been a part of, but I would say the experience that has most impacted me was a student production I put on with my dear friend Daria Clark and the rest of JBHS Drama entitled A Day in the Life.
Unfortunately, throughout my high school experience, multiple students from John Burroughs have taken their lives. Watching the effect these losses had on my community was absolutely devastating, and I felt like we needed a safe space to speak about our grief without fear of judgment.
So, working alongside forty other students, I co-wrote, directed, and produced a play about mental health. The show was put on at The Colony Theater in March of 2019 and garnered an audience of nearly two hundred individuals.
We also hosted a Q&A after the show, in which I saw the tangible effects of our art take root: students came forward about mental health issues they hadn’t yet told others, and parents gained an increased understanding about what issues affect teens most. That experience put me on a path to focus on advocacy and community service in my future and demonstrated to me the incredible strength that comes not despite, but because of mental illness.
What advice do you have for younger students interested in doing something like what you do? Take risks. It’s an artist’s job to push boundaries, so making strong choices in whatever medium you are interested in is very important! If you have a crazy idea that you are afraid of sharing with others, odds are that it’s interesting and will inspire others.
Beyond taking risks in the medium that you are comfortable with, I would also encourage any aspiring artists to take risks by trying new forms of art. I never thought of directing or student – producing until about two years ago, but by trying that out on a whim, I found I enjoyed it even more than acting! The further involved you get in a variety of artistic mediums, the more dynamic and informed perspective you will have, which ultimately will make you a stronger artist.
Please share your plans for your future after graduation. Are you going on to college? If so, where and what do you hope to study? I will be attending UC Berkeley in the fall with a tentative major in American Studies and a possible minor in English or Theater Arts.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Do you expect the arts to continue to play a role in your life and if so, how? I am deeply passionate about a variety of things, so I quite honestly have no idea where I will end up in five years. Some paths I am considering are attending law school to become a public defender, entering the world of politics and/or nonprofit work, or directing and producing.
There’s a misconception that to be involved with the arts or to have it impact your life you have to be an actor, painter, or other type of artist actively pursuing that work. That’s simply untrue. Regardless of what realm I enter, the arts will always play a major role in my life.
Because of theater, I have become a strong public speaker, empathetic person, and someone willing to take risks. These traits will undoubtedly be relevant throughout my life. And I know, no matter what, I will be an avid supporter of the arts and arts education.
Even though the definition of acting is to impersonate someone you are not, it is as an actor that I have found myself. Theater will always be a home for me, regardless of how I am involved.