I teach Theatre because of its inherent connection to all facets of human existence. As an academic discipline, Drama and Theatre Arts present a history of human culture through an artistic reflection of society. To understand the Theatre one must possess knowledge in literature, world history, theology, philosophy, sociology, and the fine arts. The Theatre is also an ephemeral art adapting and evolving with the time and culture that create it. This concept influences my teaching style as I facilitate between lecture courses incorporating digital teaching methods and smaller intensive workshop classes with individual instruction. As the Theatre extends beyond the stage, my classes illustrate to students how the same skills required for performance are beneficial in business, the sciences, and all forms of communication.
I enjoy teaching because it allows me a forum to share my passion for performance. I completed my graduate studies after first working professionally as an actor, director and fight-choreographer. My artistic perspective was developed through conservatory training, where I learned through group assignments, individual research projects, and in-class presentations of dramatic scenes. I studied with working artists who taught me about the personal and professional responsibility we all have to our peers and future co-workers. It is this mind-set of accountability which I present in my courses in dramatic literature, acting technique, movement, and stage combat. These smaller classes afford me the opportunity to encourage my students to develop their individual creativity and imagination while fostering ensemble working techniques. As the theatre establishes a sensing of community, my classes are a microcosm of the larger collegiate experience where students work with others in a respectful environment of diversity and inspiration. In my courses, students from all walks of life and disciplines become a “troupe” valuing each member’s contributions to the class as a whole.
This intense individual focus is amplified for my larger lectures. I enjoy rising to the challenge and adapting my teaching methods to engage larger classrooms. To accomplish this, for every class I accompany my lectures with PowerPoint presentations, video clips of performances, and still images. I find that 21st Century students, who were raised with computers and digital media, respond well to visual and aural teaching methods. When hearing and seeing a visual representation of the point, fact, or idea being discussed, these students better retain and process this information. To assist the individual learning experience, I incorporate Blackboard into my classes, and enjoy the connectivity that new technologies have added to the “smart-classroom.” Through this software, my students are able to track their individual accomplishments, submit their written assignments, and download class readings. This allows for students in larger classrooms to receive direct feedback from me, while fostering personal responsibility for their individual success in the class.
Although I prepare many students for a professional career in the entertainment industry, I also welcome those in other academic pursuits to the world of theatre. Each semester my goal is for my students to leave my classes with refined skills of inquiry, analysis, artistic critique, research, and communication. In all courses I incorporate class presentations, research papers, and performance critiques of university and community theatrical events. These assignments, strengthened by in-class lectures and group projects, encourage my students to consider the social and historical contexts surrounding the theatre and the various artists who create it.
I was drawn to the theatre precisely because of its inclusive nature. It is this element I bring to my classes, where everyone is welcome, as long as they come to participate and learn with the group. It is my intention that we learn from each other in an environment where individuals are encouraged to succeed on their own merit. This success is fortified by the skills learned while working collaboratively with other strong individuals. In this fashion, my students leave my classes confident in their abilities to express their individual ideas while pursing the greater goals of the class, theatrical production, or future careers upon graduation.