The Power of Theatre to Transform – Nina Meehan

“The power of theatre to transform and shock potential is so huge.” Nina Meehan

Theatre has long been perceived to be a powerful tool that spurs conversations as well an avenue in which societal matters can be explored and understood. Nina Meehan has been in the arts space for quite a while and says that theatre helps people to view the world differently and deepens their self-awareness.

Nina Meehan is an award-winning director, playwright and producer, and a dedicated arts educator, with expertise in youth development and non-profit management. Her work focuses on nurturing innovation in children and connecting people in our increasingly digital world. Nina’s award-winning theatrical work for young people as CEO of Bay Area Children’s Theatre has reached more than 1 million kids and adults and has toured nationally and internationally.

Some of Nina’s most recent credits include: the adaptation of Chelsea Clinton’s book, “She Persisted,” Grace Lin’s “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon,” and the New York Times bestselling “Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site” series. She has received the Alumna of the Year Award from Head-Royce School in (2020), the Diablo Valley Innovation Award (2020), the Theatre Bay Area Award Best Director and Best New Musical (Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, 2018). She was an invited speaker at Visioni in Bologna, Italy, and an invited speak at a conference hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Nina also serves as Board President for TYA/USA and was named as one of Red Tricycle’s “Moms Who Rock.” She holds a BS in theatre from Northwestern University and a Master’s of Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco. She is also a certified yoga instructor. Her work has been spotlighted in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, American Theatre Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Barron’s, Red Tricycle, ABC News, NBC News, and CBS News.

Nina is our guest today and, in this episode, she will talk about the transformative power of theatre to both children and adults.

Listen in!

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  • I am the founder of Bay Area children’s theatre which me and my friends started 18 years ago and we have produced enough shows to reach literally a million people. [2:58]
  • The part that I think is the most exciting for me is the growth from where we started to now having professional adult actors for family and student audiences and also working with young people. [3:35]
  • The growth of the organization has truly been because of the demand from the community. [4:07]
  • What I have learned over those years as a theatre creator is that art and creativity bring all the soft skills into our world. [4:26]
  • Kids in a lot of ways are far more willing to take that risk of getting up there on stage than adults. [6:40]
  • The power of what it looks like to see a kid stand up and own their art, reflects self-confidence and independence which are skills that children need. [7:35]
  • We did online theatre during the pandemic and interestingly, the same transformative moments were experienced, where participants owned and took charge of their performances. [7:52]
  • The power of theatre to transform and shock potential is so hug [8:10]
  • What I’ve seen with the adults that we engage with that is interesting, is the conversation that their children’s performances initiate afterwards. [8:15]
  • As adults we are often putting limitations on ourselves with the excuse that we are not artists yet maybe we are. [12:27]
  • I have loved working with kids for 18 years and it’s been so beautiful seeing adults try to take the step to be creative. [12:55]
  • The more that we can open that potential and that opportunity to redefine what it is to be a creative in our current modern world the more we can be creative and express ourselves. [13:50]
  • We are programmed to be creative beings and that comes in lots of different shapes and forms. [16:26]
  • Encouraging the people around us is important because that is our power, considering so much of being creative is about just allowing ourselves the permission to do it. [18:22]
  • The more that we can say how we feel and appreciate art, the more we can have moments where we can value the creativity in the people around us. [18:52]
  • Commercial break. [20:25]
  • In terms of giving back to your community, I think it is so important to look around and see who in your community is doing work that is inspiring the next generation to become creative leaders. [22:43]
  • We all want empathetic humans taking over from us in the next generation. [
  • We are all working on a shoestring but there is a whole world of non-profit organizations out there that would love to have support in different ways. [23:45]
  • The other part of it is really looking into your own being and finding your own creative moments that brings you joy, and bring that into your adult world. [24:23]
  • For entrepreneurs, for those who run businesses, board service for non-profit organizations is an insanely huge and powerful gift you can give back to your community. [26:23]
  • The way non-profit sector is set up, we cannot function without a dedicated arm that is our board of directors. [26:44]
  • Find time today to try creative play and just see what happens. [28:31]


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