Since 2015, Ryan has been teaching with 4th Wall Theatre Company, providing performing arts education for individuals with intellectual disabilities. As a collaborative instructor, he creates unique lesson plans, writes scripts with student collaboration, choreographs dances for all physical abilities, and stage manages final showcases.
Ryan also served as the Institute for Arts and Creativity intern at Wharton Center for Performing Arts, helping to administer the Disney Musicals in Schools Lansing-based program. He also created lesson plans and trained teaching artists for Wharton Center's Act One Arts Educators program, a program providing free teaching artist visits to classrooms who will be attending a touring youth theatrical production at Wharton Center. In addition, he also helped administer the Sutton Foster Ovation Awards, the Michigan subset of the national Jimmy Awards.
Ryan's other teaching artist experience includes Playhouse on the Square (study guide materials available upon request), Michigan State University, Marquis Theatre, Lansing Public Schools, Holt Public Schools, Dewitt Public Schools, and Northville Public Schools.
"You never know how the arts will impact someone’s life. We [as educators] make it possible for crystal moments to be manifested, so that everyone will be inspired to follow their dreams. And in following those dreams, they may go on to inspire someone else as well. And they may go on to inspire someone else. And someone else. And so on..."
Farm! A Musical Experience
In 2016, Ryan, with Dionne O'Dell and Kathryn Stahl, began to devise an original interactive, sensory-exploratory musical for children and young adults on the autism spectrum. On April 21st, 2017, Farm! premiered on the campus of Michigan State University. In the Spring of 2018 it toured to Michigan schools, and was hosted by Wharton Center for Performing Arts. It will continue to tour in 2019, with national dates to come.
In Farm!, a boy working on his parents farm doesn't want to do his chores. But when one of his socks goes missing from the laundry pile, the boy and his one sock, Oliver, will have to go on an epic journey to find Oliver's "sole-mate." Throughout the journey, the audience will be invited to participate in the various challenges such as riddles, dancing with scarecrows, and braving a storm. Ultimately, the audience will be included on-stage for a personalized conclusion of the show.
Research on creating this show, and the state of theatre for audiences with autism, was presented by Ryan and research partner Evan Phillips at Michigan State University's University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum where it received First Place in the Humanities and Performing Arts section. The abstract can be found by clicking here and going to page 138 of the document.
Farm! was recently featured in ING Magazine. The article can be found by clicking here and going to page 10 of the document.