I believe the job of the theatre educator is to stimulate and develop intellectual growth and professional skills by combining this type of personalized learning with practical application. Striking such a balance is challenging but deeply rewarding, spurring growth within both student and teacher. Providing the tools to develop this style of learning is essential in every class that I teach. The needs of the students and their growth—primarily as contributing members of the society and secondarily as theatrical professionals—is of the utmost importance.
While in the Classroom...
When teaching introductory theatre, theatre history, or dramatic literature courses, I seek to create lessons that will actively engage the students. Projects such as demonstrations, model making, and experiential examples, are utilized in smaller history classes, but are not possible in the 300 student Theatre Appreciation class that I currently teach. In this course, I fashion discussions reliant on class participation, create physical examples with volunteers, and engage the student beyond merely lecturing.I also fully believe in grounding all material in familiar, accessible situations with valid links to the students’ lives, other fields of study, and the world at large. I do not shy away from references to popular culture if it allows the students to connect the material to their own lives. Tying material to an existing knowledge or interest base is key to the students’ understanding as well as for fostering a collaborative environment within the learning community of a liberal arts institution.
Directing & Acting...
When teaching movement, acting, and directing classes, I focus on the mentorship of future professionals. I believe in providing opportunities for students to hone their craft in a safe and guided environment where risks are encouraged. The diversity present in modern theatre necessitates exposure to various acting and movement styles.A broad spectrum training track combining realism based acting training, psychophysical theories, and movement based training including Commedia, mime, Viewpoints and stage combat, provides multiple means to approach challenges in a text or scenario.This diversity in training creates well-rounded actors capable of seamlessly navigating through a wide range of styles and plays.
Within the classroom, training should always build towards a performance in order to more effectively simulate the working conditions that the artists will encounter in the professional world and to allow faculty to observe the work, provide guidance, and encourage growth. Providing a public performance environment also presents opportunities for students to connect production events to classroom lessons.My goal in the instruction of acting and directing students is to help sculpt future theatrical collaborators with a firm grasp of the text and a willingness to explore, allowing them to make informed and interesting choices in their work.I have found this approach towards self-reflection and practical application instrumental in my own educational experiences as a director and actor and this is how I seek to train others.