So, I haven’t been a “real” student since Bill Clinton was president.
If you’re one of my students reading this, that means its been a while. I did my undergraduate and first masters in the ’90s, but aside from a few classes here and there (that weren’t anything to write home about), I have spent the last 15 years calling the shots in a classroom or on a stage.
Now I’m back to having assignments given to me, and it’s a strange experience. The toughest part has been catching up on all of the “classic” works of theatre I had never gotten around to reading before. I’ve spoken of “the stack” in previous posts, and just when I think I’ve got it done, they assign more plays for me to read. Because my directorial career has strictly been in youth theatre, I never read much Chekhov or Ibsen or Brecht. Shakespeare was my exclusive go-to guy for the Big Stuff.
So now I’m brushing up, and being exposed to newer playwrights I had never come across before. I’m embarrassed to say that I never read any Frank McGuinness before, but he’s really something, and he’ll be teaching me how to analyze The Merchant of Venice for the next few weeks. I’m also participating in a Writing for Theatre course that’ll be co-taught by Conor McPherson. I read his play “The Weir”a long time ago, and that was the beginning of my interest in contemporary Irish theatre. Little did I know that I’d be learning how to write from him ten years later. (Technically the class isn’t open to the MA in Directing students, but they’re letting me participate in a not-for-credit capacity.)
So I’m pretty lucky, and I’m regretting not taking the literary side of theatre more seriously, since it’s been a month of heavy reading and contemplating. Reading plays is hard, man. When you think about it, it’s only half the story, in a sense. For me, it isn’t complete until actors get up on stage and perform it, and even then, you’re only watching one version of it. Another director, another production, another interpretation of the work. And I guess that’s what’s great about theatre, as opposed to film, where everything is fixed and permanent.
So…sorry for the lack of updates. I have plenty of stories to tell, but I just wrapped up the first week of classes, and I’ve been pretty focused on that. Hoping to get my homework done in a timely manner, though, so I can get back to writing the “forty tales” or so on here. (Hmm, 40 posts is a nice goal to set for myself…)
More soon…I’m going to see an opera about Ikea this weekend!