TTB Member Spotlight: Harrison Baxley

This month’s Member Spotlight highlights Harrison Baxley. Harrison earned a B.A. in Theatre Arts with a concentration in Acting and Playwriting from the Unversity of South Florida. Professionally, he has worked with Think Tank Theatre in The Giver and Around the World in 80 Days, and with Tampa Repertory Company in King Lear.  He has recently published a book and became the Theatre Teacher for Hillsborough High School. 
Interview by Brian Shea

What inspires you as a creative professional?

I am always inspired by artists who create work in and for their communities. I have been so lucky in my career to be surrounded by people who are genuinely interested in creating a thriving artistic community. I’m inspired by artists who look to hire locals and say other people’s names in rooms they’re not in. I look forward to one day being able to return the favor to those who have done that for me.

You have recently published a children’s book for adults, Meet the Davies, which can be purchased online. What other projects are you dreaming of creating?

I have always wanted to publish a book. Meet the Davies just sort of fell into my lap at random because my friend, Court Rogers, asked if I wanted to help write it. I have this problem where I can’t say no to anything. I want to do so much, so when an opportunity arises, I take it. That being said, Court and I have a new project currently in the works. We’re adapting a classic story into a graphic novel. That’s probably as much as I can say about it at this time, but I’m really excited about it.

You are the new Theatre Teacher for Hillsborough High. What do you hope your student could learn from the Theatre Tampa Bay community of professional creatives?

Arts education is in a really rough spot right now. Not just at Hillsborough High, but everywhere. Most schools can’t even afford a full-time theatre teacher. Fortunately, we live in Tampa where we have a rich theatre community. I encourage my students to go see shows from professional companies in the area. That’s where you learn what the craft looks like. 

How may the Theatre Tampa Bay community be of help to the next generation of creative professionals?

I would say if TTB wants to help the next generation, we have to open more doors for them. I have so many peers who get degrees in the arts and never use it. It sometimes feels like you have to break into this community. There are some wonderful people who work hard to hold doors open for others, say their names in rooms they’re not in and continue to hire new faces. Those people are what keep this community alive. The other thing that would help is lowering ticket prices for students. It’s so important to see the quality work that’s being done in this area, but they can rarely afford to. Lowering ticket prices for students could mean your show is the first professional production they see. For them, it could mean a lifetime in the arts. 


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