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Mary Hall Surface is an award-winning playwright, theatre director, and teaching artist specializing in family audiences, multidisciplinary collaborations, and innovative community engagement through the arts. As a museum educator, she uses theater and creative writing in both public and school programs to expand perspective, uncover complexity, and deepen understanding. She is the founding instructor of the DC’s National Gallery of Art’s popular Writing Salon, a six-summer faculty member of Harvard’s Project Zero Classroom, and a 30+ year National Kennedy Center teaching artist in drama.
Her plays have been produced at major professional theatres, museums, and festivals throughout the US, Europe, Japan, Taiwan, and Canada, including 19 productions at the Kennedy Center and 4 art-inspired productions at the National Gallery of Art. During the pandemic, she has evolved a robust online practice of facilitating reflective writing practices inspired by art for museums, schools, and arts centers nationwide. She loves living in Washington, DC where she can walk in Rock Creek Park every day.
A Widening Circle: Social Emotional Toolkits
In the face of the crises of 2020, SAAM chose to step closer in. We listened to our communities’ needs, connected across our urban networks, and rerouted resources. In collaboration with a playwright, an art therapist, and community service organisations, we created and distributed Social Emotional Learning Toolkits, free-of-charge. These guided journaling resources and artwork reproductions connect our neighbours with themselves and with their loved ones. The circle continues to widen as we begin distributing these in rural communities throughout the US and contemplate a new toolkit that aims to support communication across difference.