I recently attended the annual 2-day conference of the National Association of Schools of Theatre in Baltimore. This conference consists of presentations and roundtables.
The keynote address spoke to resiliency and relevance. Dr. Phylica Rashad was the speaker. Among the points she made were:
- Theatre is a place of diversity and inclusion, not only in the stories we tell but in the audience itself that gathers to hear the story
- There is so much intellectual activity involved in presenting theatre: math, physics, philosophy, history, social studies, politics, chemistry, art
- The power of theatre is that it reveals what is common to all
- Theatre provides truth and service—service to the institution, to students, and to humanity
- Theatre satisfies a need to gather when hearing stories that TV does not meet
Another session addressed the issues of mental health awareness for students and faculty. It was brought up that there has been an increase in need without a corresponding increase in the availability of services at many institutions.
I moderated a roundtable consisting of private schools with a theatre enrollment of 1-80 students. Most of the group were from the same schools that attended the faith-based institutions’ roundtable on Saturday. We spoke of the changing demographics in terms of numbers and the preparation of students for college. One professor I spoke to no longer assigns papers due to the decline in student writing skills—they were from a state university.
Part of the discussion in the faith-based roundtable centered around sourcing plays. I learned about the Big Bridge Theatre Consortium, a group of 10 schools that each gives $1000 to a playwright to write a play based on faith and social justice issues. The BBTC has its home at George Fox University. The National Play Exchange (NPX), which I was familiar with, was brought up as a source as well.
Fun fact I learned about crab cakes—they are not shaped like breaded hockey pucks, they are more like a mound of mashed potatoes!