Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Tom Loughlin on Inertia in Theatre Education

Tom Loughlin's production of Romeo and Juliet is over, and he is back writing blog posts again. He has written one about the death of Augusto Boal, noting the media silence surrounding it (I hope to write something about Boal and Theatre of the Oppressed soon -- right after I get my grades submitted). He has also written a pointed analysis if the current situation in theatre and theatre education entitled "If It's Broke, Don't Fix It." Here's a taste, but go read the whole thing:

Theatre? As broken as anything can get.

Yet there seems to be very little will or ability to fix broken things anymore. Take educational theatre. It’s broken because it trains students for a broken profession while simultaneously breaking their personal financial situations by leaving them thousands of dollars in debt with no practical way of recovering their money. This piece of news seems not have reached theatre departments, but even if it had, theatre departments have too much invested in what they currently do to ever change.

Sometimes it’s not even a question of finding solutions. In many cases the solutions are out there just waiting to be implemented. I think it goes deeper than that. We, as a culture, seem to have a deep affinity towards inertia. We want things comfortable. We want things to be predictable. We want them to be the same. And we do not want to have to do the hard work involved in maintenance. Consensus seems harder than ever to achieve.

I might argue, as does he later in the post, that maintenance is less required than a complete reinvention,. His analogy comes from thr world of baseball:

What theatre needs is a to undergo a change something along the lines of Rick Ankeil of the St. Louis Cardinals. a big-time prospect as a pitcher who posted a record of 11 wins and 7 losses with 194 strikeouts and a 3.50 ERA in his rookie year 2000. Inexplicably, he became unable to throw a strike, and after Tommy John surgery and other injuries, he re-constructed himself as an outfield and hitter. In the 2008 season he hit .264, had 25 home runs and 71 runs batted in over 413 at bats. It’s all about the adjustments.

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