We are proud to introduce our new Education Manager Briana Butler! Two River audiences will know Briana from her work in Audience Services, but her story here begins many years before that. Read on to learn more about Briana Butler.
Please tell us about your history with Two River – when and how did it start?
My Two River story started as a student: a student who was not interested in theater. I saw my first TRT production in 2012 when I was a sophomore in high school; my school benefitted from what is now called the “Have a SEAT” program, and I fell in love with the arts in a whole new way. HONK was the children’s show I saw and I was amazed by the set, effects, actors and talent. I couldn’t get the theater out of my head, and the school’s drama teacher suggested I reach out to find a department that was looking for help. By that summer, the Education Department had responded to my email, and I made my Two River debut as a summer camp intern.
My junior year, I was encouraged to apply to the Howard Aronson Metro Scholar Program, and am proud to be a part of the 2013-2014 Metro Scholar class. My “assistantships” were with Marketing and Audience Services and my eyes were opened to the world of theater – behind the scenes. My “assistantship” with Audience Services went so well that once I ended my Metro Scholar tenure, I came on to the TRT staff part-time welcoming patrons as they entered the building, scanning tickets, and initially working the concessions bar. The experiences were such a driving factor with how I pursued my college education.
Because of Two River Theater, I knew the kind of place that I belonged and the kind of artist I wanted to be. After getting my Bachelor’s degree in Theater & Comedy from William Paterson University, I completed my Master’s degree at Rowan University in Arts Administration with the end goal of following in the footsteps of those who guided me. Here I am, a decade later in a position I thought was only a dream, with the person who started it all: Kate Cordaro.
What was a favorite production that you experienced here?
My absolute favorite production at Two River Theater is Be More Chill! This iconic show from our 2014-2015 season went on to Broadway and beyond, and with good reason! It was fun, it was quirky, and best of all, it was different. Shows like Be More Chill are hard to come by, and it’s a leap of faith to take a chance on new works.
I’ve always loved musicals, but the message this show shared with its audience spoke to the girl in me who had been hurt, misunderstood, and ignored. I think I saw this show four times a week when it was running…if not more, and I followed some of our original cast to other theaters as well to see more performances (I may have been a groupie at the time haha).
This was the last production I saw before my freshman year of college and for me, it was perfect timing. It showed me everything I was going through, and foreshadowed everything I would. I had so much fun during this show, I forgot I was just a patron; the energy was infectious and I would, to date, watch it again and again.
What are you excited to do in the education department?
The education department is where I got my start, so I’m beyond excited to be here in any capacity! While I’m looking forward to student matinee days where I can see my Front of House family, I’m excited to connect with students and provide them with the resources and knowledge TRT gave me to become a successful, educated, empowered, and hungry artist.