Master Teachers of Theatre: Observations on Teaching Theatre by Nine American Masters

Master Teachers of Theatre: Observations on Teaching Theatre by Nine American Masters

Master Teachers of Theatre: Observations on Teaching Theatre by Nine American Masters

Master Teachers of Theatre: Observations on Teaching Theatre by Nine American Masters

Synopsis

Claribel Baird reviews the interpretation of classical texts for theatrical performance. Howard Bay interrupted his stage design career of more than 150 Broadway productions to help students. Bernard Beckerman asks if there are approaches to the teaching of dramatic literature that particularly suit drama-as-theatre. Robert Benedetti offers suggestions on the teaching of acting. Oscar Brockett treats the problems of the theatre teacher and the processes of learning.

Agnes Haaga shows that the essential quality in heading up child drama programs is a sense of joyous delight. Wallace Smith discusses methods for teaching secondary schooltheatre. Jewel Walker offers a rare written statement about his work as a theatre teacher. Carl Weber conveys the principles and methodology of his mentor, Bertolt Brecht, to beginning directors.

Excerpt

Hundreds of books and articles concerning the theatre reach publication every year in the United States alone, but only a tiny portion of that impressive output deals with one of the largest enterprises generated by the American stage: the teaching of theatre. The rising importance of theatre education to the fortunes of drama and dramatic production in this country renders this fact implausible. Not that one would expect a large proportion of theatre discourse to investigate the work of teachers; the art itself merits the lion's share of attention. But that there is so much instruction in theatre while almost nothing is said about it is one of the curious contradictions in a field filled with paradox.

We can show that this country has created thousands of teachers and programs, hundreds of thousands of students from small children to graduate students, and millions of spectators in audiences for performances. Still, we find merely traces of public awareness of theatre as a field of instruction, and we encounter much evidence of confusion about what theatre programs do, why there are so many of them, and how they do what they do.

This issue becomes more problematic when we take into account that American theatre education is unique among the education systems in the world. In other nations, if training for the theatre is undertaken at all, the instruction of young talents for the stage falls to the theatre profession through programs in operating theatres or in state-subsidized institutes. In this country, by contrast, the preparation of young aspirants to the theatre professions, as well as cultivation of appreciation for the dramatic arts, is largely the function of theatre education, which is implanted in a vast system of public and private education.

Theatre as an instructional field has much to explain to make itself understood. Among those who need to heed the explanations are the field's teachers, most of whom benefited from no particular orientation to pedagogical theory or practice, although . . .

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