Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Theatre in the Room

Educator Jill Dolan posts about the "Elephant in the Room," with regards to Theatre in Education. (Hat tip to Scott Walters.)

She focuses her comments on the cold transition acting students need to make into the increasingly business-driven university MFA programs, especially when they have come from exciting, passion-filled experiences in dynamic high school programs.

Most discouraging to me was watching graduate students who’d been through three years of rigorous training in acting, voice, and movement arrive at the showcase moment of their MFA program tenure. Thanks to Fran Dorn’s professional connections, the students traveled to New York and Los Angeles to present work for casting agents, directors, and other people in the business. But when they returned, many of the students reported that the feedback they received concerned their looks more than their talent. More than one went on a crash diet; the first three-year class started nearly in unison a version of The Zone diet that reduced all of them to wan and wasted stick figures in a few weeks’ time. Men and women alike were told by showcase spectators that they needed to lose weight, fix their noses, their teeth, their skin, their facial bone structures, all in the service of hewing closely to the “type” in which they’d inevitably be cast.

For this a student needs three years of expensive MFA training?

An interesting option Dolan mentions in the comments section is the following: "The other option, of course, is to do away with (some, not all)theatre majors, and make them very strong minors, instead, that students can combine with other degrees."

Also of note to the local readers here, she mentions the fact that Harvard is exploring whether or not to institute an minor. Thom Garvey at the Hubreview has been exploring that story.

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