I am constantly asked, why theater? Why not film? Why choose such an impractical major? Do you ever want to be employed?
Why theater at such a small school? Of all the places to study theater, why EMU?
While I used to be annoyed by these questions because of my own doubts, I now enjoy answering these questions with confidence.
Theater may not seem practical in the sense that I will leave college and enter directly into a money-making field with a defined career path, but I am absolutely certain that theater has gifted me many more practical and applicable life and career skills than many of my peers.
Simply having a theater education provides many useful, practical and empowering skills.
An answer I often provide to the question of why such an impractical major, I list the many skills I have thanks to my impractical major: budgeting, time management, problem solving under pressure, creative problem solving, the ability to carry out a large project start to finish, collaboration, creating a friendly and professional work environment with a diverse array of personalities, and the ability to clearly and effectively communicate.
These are skills not limited to the theater, but skills applicable and necessary for any career.
Furthermore, I am assured theater has given me the tools to empower, educate and create positive change and that is why I chose EMU Theater.
Many people are shocked when I tell them I am not looking for a career on Broadway, but want to use theater to create good in the world.
To this I often hear, “How can such an impractical thing make a difference in the world?”
My answer: theater is a way to empower, educate and create positive change when used well.
Augusto Boal, Theatre of Oppressed theorist and practitioner, writes “Theater is the training ground for the revolution!”
Boal writes this because theater has the power to educate and empower the oppressed and marginalized of the world.
Good theater is essentially good story-telling; while there are an infinite number of ways to tell those stories, essentially good theater tells the story of the human condition.
By sharing stories of oppressed, marginalized and under-represented people groups, audiences feel validated and empowered to tell their own stories.
Sharing these stories is also a way to create community, teach skills and most of all, share stories with those who need to hear them most.
Theater is more than a performance, more than a skill set or a resume builder.
Good theater is a way to question, to learn and strive for truth, to ask difficult questions, a place to start difficult dialogue, to try and chip away at the human condition.
Theater is about building community, empowering both theatre artists and audiences alike.
I want to continue to use theater as a tool for learning, empowering, bearing secrets of the human soul in intimate and unconventional spaces to fully recognize the power of theater to create community, empower under-represented voices, and tell stories that need to be heard and create change.
I leave with one of my favorite quotes about theater, again from Boal:
“The theater is a weapon, and it is the people who should wield it!”
Courtesy of The WeatherVane, March 23, 2014