Staff Spotlight: Hannah Bakke, Teaching Artist
Posted on February 12, 2024
Introducing the playwright behind this summer’s Triple Threat world premiere production CTC’s Triple Threat summer intensive—a five-week, audition-based program that offers high school students the chance to work in a pre-professional setting—specializes in offering new opportunities to the next generation of theatre makers.
This summer, the program will be taking on an additional challenge: staging the world-premiere production of The Garden, a brand-new musical written by local multi-hyphenate actor-singer-writer Hannah Bakke (she/her). We caught up with Hannah to learn more about her artistic journey and what she hopes the Triple Threat students will bring to this brand-new production.
CTC: Tell us a little about yourself and your connection to CTC.
Hannah Bakke: When I was growing up, I wanted to be a teacher, an author, and a singer, in that order. My childhood was permeated with music and storytelling; my aunt and uncle sing in a folk band (which I’m actually now a part of), played Peter, Paul and Mary on repeat, and I was lucky to have great teachers that encouraged me to write and be creative. I did my undergraduate at Concordia College, and while I started off as an education major, theatre kept calling to me in a way I couldn’t ignore. So, I changed my major, and set myself on a path to blend the things that made me the happiest—theatre, music, and working with kids!
These days, I balance my own artistic work with being a teaching artist here at CTC. As a member of the education team, I work in our residency programs—teaching Creative Play in pre-schools and integrative arts education at Bethune Arts Elementary—and teach in our after-school programs and summer camps. CTC is the place to be for this work, and I’m grateful to be sharing these experiences with young people all over the Twin Cities.
CTC: Tell us a little about The Garden. How did this project come to be?
HB: At its core, The Garden is a reimagining of the garden of Eden story from Genesis—except Adam, Eve, and Lucifer are all in a folk band, and The Garden is the name of the dive bar where they play. Everyone in this story is obsessed with perfection, with being in this pristine place and playing perfect music in perfect synchrony. But then Eve finds out a secret that shows The Garden isn’t really what it seems, and she breaks out of her role, shattering the illusion and finding her voice in the process.
I began writing The Garden in 2020 when, like so many other people, I found myself with some unexpected time on my hands. I couldn’t engage in my regular creative outlets—making music with friends and family, teaching, performing—and so I returned to a childhood passion of writing, which I had kind of let fall to the wayside as I’d invested myself in other projects.
As I started toying around with this idea for this story, it was the music that came first—specifically, Eve’s song. Her voice was the strongest and clearest from the beginning, and then I started filling in the story around the periphery of what I knew she needed to say. I took the project to a playwriting intensive through the Jen Waldman Studio (JWS) in 2021, applied for some commissions, performed a virtual concert—just continuing to chew and re-chew the words and the work and now it’s finally coming together into a full production.
CTC: What excites you about bringing this project to CTC?
HB: I was thrilled when CTC approached me about premiering this work as the Triple Threat summer production. Past Triple Threat productions have been so incredible—it’s clear that these students are excited, exceptionally talented and trained, and willing to take risks. I’m excited to work with them, and to in turn give them the experience of being part of new play development. It’s a whole different skillset to work with a playwright as a part of the rehearsal process, and something that many theatre makers aren’t exposed to until much later in
their careers. Working on a developing script gives you a lot more opportunity to leave your mark on something—there aren’t any reference points of previous iterations, so you must be a lot more present with the work, and more willing to take risks and change directions as the piece continues to define.
I also think it’s fitting to be bringing this show to stage with high school students, because those years are often defined by change. The narrative of the garden of Eden is that, in the beginning, it was this perfect place—but the truth is, beginnings are messy! To be creative, we need that permission to try and fail so that we can grow. Offering that narrative to young people who are in the thick of such intense growth and self-discovery feels incredibly powerful.
CTC: What is next for you?
HB: The Garden is a piece about women finding their voices, and speaking passionately about what they want. I’ve needed to grow my own confidence to make it what it needs to be, so my focus for the next phase is to bolster those resources for myself and the artists with whom I’m privileged to collaborate. I was recently accepted into the Maestra mentorship program, which provides support, visibility, and community to the women and nonbinary people who make the music in the musical theatre industry; I’m excited to work with them on a number of projects, including The Garden, and to see where the next chapter leads me.
Auditions for this summer’s Triple Threat Intensive will be held in March 2024. To learn more about CTC’s summer programming, visit childrenstheatre.org/camps.
Headshot of Hannah Bakke by Madeline Miller Photo.