I was in the business world for almost 20 years and have taught high school theatre arts the past 12 years. My project is to go back to college to get an MFA degree (I already have an MA degree) so I can improve my teaching skills. I am 55 years old and have been told I am "too old" to go back to school. The only thing preventing me is the funding to do so.
I left a successful "soul-less" business career because I felt emptiness as I worked. Teaching has been the most fulfilling thing I have ever done in my life. This is what I passionately wish to do and I need your help to accomplish my educational goals so I can better help students.
What I Need
I am looking for funding for the tuition portion of my education, which will come to $28,000. This is a two year MFA program specializing in Shakespeare and Performance and is very exciting. I cannot do it without your assistance.
As an experienced theatre educator, I have seen the positive impact on students over the years. I once assigned a lead role to a young man who was "dumped" into my Introductory Theatre course as a freshman. After the conclusion of the production, he thanked me for "believing in him" and "giving me a chance." I later learned that he was an at risk student, being pushed to join a gang that his older brother belonged to. Needless to say, he did not join the gang, became more involved with theatre throughout his high school years, majored in engineering in college, and is now successfully employed.
This is my philosophy of theatre education, which gives some insight into approach to education.
Theatre as a Means of Life Education
Theatre is a wonderful platform for teaching and exploring the details and complexities of life. Involvement with theatrical productions can provide students with some of their most dynamic and consummate life lessons while having an enjoyable time “playing.” Experience with a theatrical production helps young men and women develop and refine practical, useful skills that will be valuable in their adult life no matter what profession they choose:
- Articulating an idea into a vision, then into something real and tangible
- Creating and meeting deadlines
- Working to another’s specifications
- Discovering that problems can have multiple solutions
- Realizing small differences can have large effects
- Understanding actions can often convey what words cannot
Theatre can and should be both thought provoking and entertaining. An audience should see aspects of themselves on stage - their joys, sorrows, thoughts, and feelings should be revealed within the context of the story. Theatre must somehow reflect the society and times in which it is performed. Styles of speaking and customs may change throughout the centuries, but human nature does not. Oscar Wilde sums up these thoughts extremely well: "Theatre is the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being."
The job of a drama teacher and director of educational theatre is to to give the actors and production crew an environment in which to be creative. A teacher that is more mentor and guide than artistic dictator will ultimately be more successful fostering a student’s personal growth. An atmosphere must exist in which students can be comfortable and feel they are working in a supportive environment where artistic risks can be taken. The theatre classroom should be a place where intellectual and social boundaries are loosened, a place where students can exercise creativity in a nurturing and supportive environment.
Encouraging a student to keep an open mind while examining a subject helps develop their critical judgments, strengthens their powers of observation, and keeps them open to new ideas and different ways of thinking. Students should understand that the process is often more important than the product. Their artistic journey should be one of self-discovery that allows them grow emotionally, intellectually, and develop more confidence. Personal awareness of ability (“talent”) comes from each student understanding their own unique background and a sense that what they have to say is worth saying. More experienced students will develop and understand their personal artistic voice as part of this process.