Politics and theater go hand-in-hand
Alec Lewis, 24, is a 2011 graduate of Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., where he studied theater arts and political science. He graduated from Burr and Burton Academy in 2007.
What Lewis will be doing while working for the local state representatives will be helping them with research and finding new ways the get peoples attention.
"Basically what I am doing is working as, essentially, a legislative assistant. Amongst that is doing issue-based research, from the policy perspective, trying to come out with new events and formats to engage constituents. It's exciting because I get to have my feet in some policy, but also communications and just overall legislative advocacy," he said.
Lewis was able to sit in during Governor Shumlin's budget address earlier this month, which Lewis described as an exciting experience.
"I had the unique opportunity to sit in on the budget address and be recognized by the Statehouse for my service, which was very sweet. It was an opportunity to be hands-on and see how these state legislators are just like anybody else. They are real people, in Vermont particularly, and these are folks who are part-time citizen legislators. So it was great to hear the Governor's agenda and it was really just a lot of fun," he said.
Lewis sees many of the important issues facing Vermont coming to the forefront of conversation among state legislators in the coming months.
"Mainly the issues in Vermont that are going to be important are education. The governor wants to change the way we fund education, especially higher education. The decriminalization of marijuana will be a big topic, welfare reform, death with dignity, certainly gun control. There is a lot of stuff that is going to happen in the next few months and it should be interesting," he said.
Although young, Lewis already has experience working in politics. He spent time in Missouri working for the Democratic Party as a lead field organizer and volunteer coordinator during the past election year.
"Being a lead field organizer means that you are kind of a hands on person in recruiting volunteers to do things like knocking on doors and making phone calls," he said. "You're kind of the main person with your boots on the ground really working with the people who are going to make a difference in an election."
Lewis decided to come back to Vermont to decide what the next step in his life would be. It led him to some unique opportunities along with working in politics, such as teaching an improv theater class at Burr and Burton Academy.
"I initially came back to Vermont just because I was trying to figure out what the next step was after the campaign," he said. "The first day after I came back I visited BBA and ran into Neil Freeburn and we discovered through conversation that they were looking for someone to teach an improv theater class. I had done a lot of improv in college, I had co-founded a improv company, so it was the right place-right time and that cemented that I would be here at least through the winter. That's when I started looking into working with Jeff (Wilson) and Patti (Komline)."
Lewis co-founded in improv company called Cape Ann Improv whose mission is to perform, teach, develop, and promote improvisational comedy. Lewis's work with improvisational theater during college led him to pursue creating his own company.
"I had done a lot of work with children on the autism spectrum in college, using drama and improve to promote their own social skills," he said. "So, we wanted to start a company that could really reach out to not just kids with autism, but anybody who wanted to stretch themselves and grow in their own self-confidence. I no longer have a full-time role within that group, but they will be joining me for the performances in February."
Lewis's class is set to perform on Friday, Feb. 8 and Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Riley Center at Burr and Burton Academy.
Politics and theater have a lot in common, he said.
"I had these two very defined interests in high school, politics and theater, and I have actually found out how linked they are," he said. "Whether you're in your 20s or 30s you are searching for your place, so the more that I can integrate those two things and feel creative within any aspect of what I'm doing that is always a good thing."
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