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Educationfor the Theatre Gordon M. Wickstrom (forBradley R. Dewey, 1934-1989) THE CONTINUING DISCUSSION OF THE education of a theatre person in the pages of PAJ is particularly useful and timely; it leads me to think that there may still be more to say on the matter. I am convinced that in order to serve our students of theatre well, we must take them along with us on our ventures in Theory. I remember well my own undergraduate years immediately after W. W. II when our English department managed to teach us a great deal about literature. We knew the "backgrounds." We mastered the introductions in our anthologies. We learned to identify "lines." We were quite good at the broad biographical details of the authors. We loved those poems and plays. We felt rather educated in fact. Little did we know that our faculty were "somewhere else." For half a dozen years after graduation, I had been teaching high school seniors, in the way that I had been taught, about literature and the drama when it became clear to me that during those undergraduate years that I so enjoyed, my teachers were at home reading in the journals, to which I was oblivious, about the New Criticism. They hadn't told me. Only a single professor tried to show us how Milton's "Hymn of the Morning of Christ's Nativity" actually worked-what held it together. But even he failed to back up his compelling analysis with a theoretical base that might have helped us even more. I have since come to believe that theory is as necessary to theatre and drama as it is basic to consciousness itself-to our ability to form a theory of what appearsto be: even of the SELF. 155 Now, all these years later, I'm worried about what appears to be the reluctance of some of us to engage our students in new theory-in poststructuralism , if you will. Many of the older of us, who may well be in control of our academic departments, will prefer to teach in the vein of that moment when we felt that we had become most intellectually, aesthetically, and professionally ourselves-where we remain the most comfortable. I teach undergraduates exclusively and feel called upon to introduce them to the new theoretical propositions-to our time as one of "radical indeterminacy " as Stephen Greenblatt calls it. Or The End of Humanism of Richard Schechner's title. A time when the signifier just goes on signifying, perhaps so out of control that we must throw out the notion of the art of literature altogether. I feel that I must tell my students that what they thought was a necessary relationship between the plays they study and the lives they live may be only another fiction, only another narrative among many, sufficient only to propel us closer to Endgame. I feel that I must say to them that what used to excite us so much-the cross-referencing between art and life-may be only a red herring, thrown across the trail of those who might otherwise stumble upon the hidden agenda (or Greenblatt's "hidden bullets") of oppression and domination by men, money, and class. I should teach them how to deconstruct those texts that may otherwise have moved them-with the way, for instance, in the plays of Shakespeare, an incremental analysis of the phenomenon of LOVE might seem directly to impinge on the student's own experience, on his or her power to love. But when? In what order? With what emphasis? Such is my dilemma. My thesis is that I think as teachers we must be extremely careful, even crafty in the tempo, the rhythm, the order of our teaching. When, at about the age of seventeen, boys and girls are about to become men and women, many of them make the remarkable discovery that when they strike the steel of their lives against the flint ofa work of art, a most wonderful electricity and light occurs. The experience is so strong for some that they will declare their lives changed from that moment. In a way it is like Miranda's moment...


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pp. 155-158
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