You and I agree that this is a universe of pleasure, complexity, and magic where we live, yes?
My name is Shyla. I am from Austin, Texas and I was a plucky kid. My single-mom worked as a cardiac tech and my half-brother Alexander and I lived with her in north Austin. Throughout my childhood, my Dad was a DJ at a dance club on 6th street, a car salesman, a union president, a bus driver, and a college student.
I performed at the Texas Renaissance Festival as a paid cast member from grades three to twelve and also was on cast at the Cavalier Days 17th century festival for a few years. In high school I attended a public magnet school focused on the liberal arts (the LAA) where I took subjects like constitutional law, philosophy, art history, humanities, and literature. It was awesome. I met my best friend there, Kristin Leigh, when I was fourteen years old. I am still very blessed to know her. I also met my mate Eric. He is my husband now and we’ve been together for longer than I’ve been alive and not dating him! At the LAA I also started a lot of clubs, “Rushmore”-style. We had elaborate courtyards at our school and we started a tradition called Communal Lunch where students and teachers, blew soap bubbles, brought potluck food and listened to Beck on shared headphones – no joke! My school was magical but also fraught with administrative issues. The program was closed down two years after I graduated.
It was a big deal for me when I got a leadership scholarship to attend Austin College, a prestigious liberal arts college founded in 1849. While at AC I was fortunate to be sent to conferences in Hawaii, New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC. I also studied at the University ofEdinburgh in Scotland for half a year. I graduated magna cum laude with honors in history and then received a full fellowship to study at American University in DC. I got my MA in Art History with honors in Modern European Art and I was able to assist a couple of my mentors and heroes, Dr. Broude and Dr. Garrard, with organizing a groundbreaking retrospective exhibition. I was also chosen by my department to present a paper at the National Gallery of Art while at American University.
After American, we moved to Austin while Eric studied at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest. I worked as an art consultant and later as a teacher. I also followed up on a longtime goal and learned improv comedy. I was privileged to help Chris Trew and Tami Nelson found their improv theater, The New Movement.
When Eric graduated we moved to Houston where he was ordained as an Episcopal Priest at Trinity in the Woodlands and later served as the Associate Rector of St. Mark’s and leader of the Between-the-Bayous community.
In Houston I gave birth to Origen our cool and inspiring son! Concurrently I was the founding-director of Improv Wins website and the first Improv Wins conference. With the support of the amazing community of comedians and actors we’d built in Houston, I founded, and currently run, Station Theater -a theater with shows three nights a week and classes four nights a week- near downtown Houston. I’ve also produced the first and second annual Trill Comedy Festivals (Houston’s only comprehensive comedy festival) and taught in the theater department of Rice University.
My favorite activities are chilling with Eric and Origen, camping, teaching, visiting art museums, listening to friends play music, performing, and swimming!