What if theatre education empowered students to create their own opportunities, not simply prepare themselves to be accepted by others? This is the thesis of a refreshingly revolutionary article by Scott Walters, Professor of Drama at the University of North Carolina - Ashville. His article "A New Education for a New Theatre" aims to fundamentally challenge the assertion that the primary goal of theatre education is to prepare students to audition and interview so well that they are cast or hired by others.
So what needs to change? First, we need to stop teaching young people to conceive of themselves as specialists for hire — as an actor (or even worse, a certain “type” of actor), a dancer, a scene designer, lighting designer, costume designer, a stage manager, a playwright, an arts administrator. When people conceive of themselves as a product to be sold, they are no longer artists. Artists have agency.
Some of the changes he proposes are already incorporated into learning at FHU. Our students study acting, yes, but they also learn the craft of scenic painting, the skills of press writing, the techniques of lighting design, and more. The FHU Theatre grad leaves with a resume of experiences in a variety of areas. Yes, this makes them more marketable, but shouldn't these experiences empower them to create their own work?
Over the next several years, several major changes to take place in the theater program which will more effectively empower students to become "artistic entrepreneurs". Students who leave here prepared to create their own artistic works, not wait for others to cast them or give them jobs.
Watch what we are about to do!