Just back from an early morning podcast with Martin and Rochelle Denton at nytheatre.com. It was "Ask a Director" time with me and Jim Simpson, Barry Edelstein and Cat Parker.
Martin kept referring to us as a "distinguished" group. That word always makes me itch a little bit because, let's face it, "distinguished" is a nice way of saying "old".
The old MFA question came up, of course. Those who've been reading this blog know my take on this: don't waste your time and tens of thousands of dollars, get out there and fail in public. It's harsh, but those experiences are lessons you will never forget, not classes you will sleep through.
And on a deeper level, studying directing or acting or playwriting in an academic environment seems to reinforce some dangerous assumptions.
In a class, you are working for the approval of one person, your teacher, right? You want to get that A. So then you go out into the world and you start working for someone else's approval, a lead critic, say.
In a classroom environment, there's always the unspoken understanding that there is a right answer, a right way and a wrong way. So you get loaded up with all of this received wisdom and unthinking tradition and are subtly or not so subtly discouraged from working from an initial, original impulse.
Where else is anything interesting, innovative or worthwhile going to come from except an initial, original impulse?
I'm all for technique and knowing the history and I know there are smart, dedicated, honest people working in academia, but my experience has been that most of them are working consciously or otherwise against their situation, swimming upstream against a very strong current.
Been over this, I suppose.
Good weekend to all, stay warm out there.