Meet Reba Hoffman: Stories Onstage and Off
Storytelling: an artform that has existed since before recorded history. It is what groups communities together and teaches thousands. And no one understands the importance of storytelling more than Rebecca Hoffman, affectionally known at Magenta Theater as "Reba," director and instructor of The Phoenix Project, Magenta Theater's storytelling experience.
ABOUT The PHOENIX PROJECT
The Phoenix Project was launched in 2020 as a way to connect the Magenta community during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The experience starts with learning about the structure and elements of a story and ends with participants recording their own brief story on camera. It's purpose? To provide the keys to unlocking the best stories inside of us all. Five experiences were recorded and shared in Magenta Theater's 2020 "GiveMore24" virtual event, and Reba hopes to continue the project once the COVID-19 pandemic passes.
“We live by stories… here you can have an empty stage and be anywhere...it engages the audience in a way no other art does.” Reba explained.
A practicing physician, Reba's path to directing "The Phoenix Project" stemmed from recently earning her credential in Narrative Medicine, which is a method that uses storytelling to promote healing and aid medical workers in understanding their patients better. It helps the practitioner to develop empathy in relating to their patients. As Reba says, “Stories express their core.”
In addition to using storytelling in her career as a doctor, Reba also invokes the craft as a mother and caregiver. Stories have aided Reba to support her family and helped her find purpose in caring for her younger daughter, was seriously injured at 16 in an accident. Her husband makes sure that Reba takes time to pursue the creative arts she is so passionate about.
In her personal life, Reba shares her stories through her radio show DRAGONFLY, named after the insect, which means “success against adversity and new beginnings.” The first episode of Dragonfly was released in April 2021, with subsequent episodes released every other month. These episodes can be accessed at KXRW.fm.
“We live by stories… here you can have an empty stage and be anywhere...it engages the audience in a way no other art does.”
As for Reba, her story started in Michigan and moved throughout the U.S., until she landed in Vancouver, Washington with her two daughters and husband. Theater has always been a part of her life, starting at local theaters as a child and, later, introducing her children to the creative arts.
Her love for theater may have been on pause over the years while she pursued her career in family medicine, but Reba has found a way to connect the two.
Reba's local acting career began at the Metropolitan Performing Arts, where she stepped in as the lead in SHOW TITLE and learned the character in two days. After which, she decided she needed to get back into the theater, which brought her to Magenta in YEAR.
Reba has played several roles at Magenta over the years, both onstage and off, including the corset model in THE WOMEN and the nurse in ROMEO AND JULIET. She became lighting director and took charge of researching what would be the best way to improve the system in place, and running the booth was as rewarding as acting for Reba. She was also the director for the show SHERLOCK. Her favorite role, by far, however, was acting as Miriam in MOON OVER THE BREWERY. It was a character that initially felt so unlike her, but by the end...she was her. As Reba put it, “I think in every role you can find a piece of yourself, which is genuine, because it’s you.”
As it has been for many people, the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially trying for Reba, a practicing physician at Kaiser. Storytelling has helped her find ways to navigate these times by maintaining a connection with those around her.
At times of great need, Reba turns to Mary Oliver’s poem SPRING, a story that drives her to ponder, "What are you going to do with your one precious, beautiful life?"