#MNPSVoices: Will Butler and Kristin Moon, Theater Directors
Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being” and finding it requires a deep and often lengthy self-discovery process leading to the source that make one’s life worthwhile.
For the past four years, Will Butler and Kristin Moon have worked together to create some of the most notable theatre productions in Nashville as co-directors of The Hillsboro Players. As a result, they have helped numerous students and audiences discover their own ikigai or source of value.
“I know firsthand the transformative power theatre has on a person,” Butler said. “As someone who faced many difficulties growing up, theatre provided me the escape I needed to keep my mind, body, and spirit focused. I teach theatre because I want my students to have a safe place to explore their own creativity and grow not only as artists but as members of society.”
As a graduate of Metro Nashville Public Schools, Moon first found her love of theatre while attending Glencliff High School.
“I teach theatre because I believe theatre has something to teach everyone,” Moon said. “In the production process, kids learn creativity, empathy, and discipline which helps them become successful adults. I hope my passion for theatre inspires my students to change the world.”
Butler and Moon’s journey to Hillsboro High School began as a meeting through mutual theatre friends, in which they instantly connected. After seeing Moon’s production of “Seussical,” Butler was so impressed with the quality that he wanted to become more involved.
“I didn’t have an education background,” Butler said. “My passion, in conjunction with Kristin’s, to give the students a theatre experience unlike any other high school and the idea to begin improving the community involvement of The Hillsboro Players, along with the marketing and production value, was enough to get me hired.”
Since then, Butler and Moon have worked as one voice challenging and encouraging each other to create conceptually strong and expertly performed theatre. Through their own pursuit of excellence, the students continually raise the bar of what they are capable of achieving.
“High school theatre is a phrase often used with negative connotations, but we guide our students to create theatre that fights and crushes that connotation,” Moon said. “Teenagers can create quality art that deserves to be seen and experienced by their peers and the community.”