Tom calls for us to raise our voices in order to change a room, and from there we can change the world. Most importantly, Tom writes:
"It is imperative for artists to become involved in this issue as well, both by agitating their own places of education, and by continuing to create a theatre that strikes some sort of chord for every layer of society. The entropic nature of all organic things requires that something new be created to replace what has gained maximum entropy, not to continue to waste time trying to bring balance to the old. If artists and educators can join forces to subvert theatre education from without and from within, we may have some hope of bringing in something new and promising. I’m trying to work on my part from within - can you work on yours from without?"
And by doing so, he reaches out to form a bond between the artist and the educator built on a mutual concern for the health of the art form we love. Yes, this series has been a conversation between two educators about their profession, but its ramifications affect everything that happens in the art form. If theatre education is deadly, it reinforces the deadly aspects of the professional theatre by flooding it with deadly actors, directors, designers and playwrights. But, on the other hand, if theatre education is going to innovate, if we comfortable tenured professors are going to make an effort to teach in a way that inspires and empowers young people, then we need to know that there are artists out there who will join hands with us and with our students to change the face of theatre.
Tom is right -- the academy needs artists to raise your voices and demand a change. To express your frustrations over what you did and didn't learn when you were in college, to call out to education's higher angels and demand that we create artists and not mindless drones. To make us theatre professors do our jobs and serve as midwives to a theatrical future that is vibrant and innovative and exciting.
How do we do that? How can we get this moving? Tom suggests that you talk to your theatre alma mater, or to your local theatre departments, and I agree. And then we need to go further, to create a wide demand for a theatre education redefinition and renaissance that will bring new energy into the professional world.
How do we do that? Please fill my comments box and Tom's with suggestions. Write your own blog posts and give us a link. Share your stories. Tell us what you got from your education that has kept you fired up and ready to go, and what baggage you have had to get rid of in order to stay that way. Tell us what would appeal to your artistic higher angels, and what opportunities we should provide for our students during their years in our care. What in education would help make theatre an exciting, vibrant, and innovative art form that would live up to all the talent that fills it?
And then brainstorm with us -- what's the next level? My first thought, and I suppose it is a typically academic one, is a conference attended by artists and educators who are committed to change, who will issue ringing manifestoes and thundering j'accuses demanding the destruction of the status quo. Something -- anything -- to get us fired up and ready to go. But in some ways, that seems kind of unoriginal and not in keeping with the nature of the effort. So what other options are there?