TEACHING - "Interdisciplinary Theatre"
" Playwriting is not just writing. It is composing with a space. "
When I began teaching at the university level, I quickly realized that students in my department were not being exposed to the broad spectrum of plays and theatre I was familiar with. I proposed and developed an informal "play reading" series for students to address these gaps in curriculum. The students' responses were overwhelmingly positive. When I left my position to became a full-time "artist" -- I combined the students' reactions with my own life experience. I created a course called -- "Playwriting for Interdisciplinary Theatre" -- which draws upon my own professional work in New York, Canada, and the European Union.
I have taught both semester-length and workshop-length versions at the Theatre Academy in University of the Arts Helsinki (Finland), Kazakh National Academy of Arts in Almaty (Kazakhstan), Turku University of Applied Sciences (Finland), Katapult Akademiet at Teater Katapult in Aarhus (Denmark), City College College of San Francisco (CA), the Playwrights Foundation (CA), Gulf Coast State College (FL), Turan Film Academy (Kazakhstan), Trinity College / La MaMa Performing Arts Program in New York, and in conjunction with residencies and performances while working in Bangladesh, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden
Students are encouraged to think of playwriting not simply as writing "TV-on-stage" dialogue -- but rather to investigate themes of "thinking abstractly" and "composing with a space" as an effective means to develop a theatrical language. Readings from older, forgotten playwrights are combined with contemporary, interdisciplinary practitioners more common to the European Union. These are then connected to real world examples of "thinking abstractly" in popular films, music videos, and advertising. Through individual writing exercises, developing research practices, and group discussion -- students are encouraged to develop their own original material.
Playwriting" does not need to be the dirty passé word it has assumed in contemporary arts and performance circles. "Playwriting" does not need to remain frozen in the realm of "the predictable" and trapped within burdens of ultra-realism. "Playwriting" can be exploded to stretch and meet the demands of complex issues; its scope and scale can be expanded to incorporate new technologies and mediums.