Shout for Theatre!
by Dr. Claudia Sullivan
April 28, 2006
Like many of you, I sometimes wonder why I teach what I teach. What was it all those years ago that first captured my imagination about a particular subject, or what was the spark that ignited an interest or curiosity in an area of learning? For me, it was when I was four years old and I was left, by myself, on the stage after all my fellow ballerinas had departed for the stage wings. I loved the applause. I loved being on stage, in another world filled with sound and music, and color and story.
Now, all those many years later (this is my 29th year at Schreiner, after all) I sometimes struggle to find that spark again. I will admit, hesitantly that there are days when it feels like a drudge, but, gladly, there are more days when it still feels like magic, like wonder, like awe...when a student says, "I loved your class," or "I never have thought of it THAT way before," or "Thanks for changing my life." Yes, there are times when it all comes together for all of us....like when the graduates pass us in the graduation line and give us a hug, or when a talented pre-med student gets into the med school of their choice, or better yet....when that same student comes back years later with a fellowship to a prestigious hospital, or when you know they FINALLY got it. Then you know you made the right choice...you are a teacher, a mentor, a (God forbid!) role model.
Well, it all came together for me tonight in the illuminated and illuminating space of the Union Church on the southwest corner of our campus. It all came together in Derek Horton's production of Samuel Beckett's classic play, WAITING FOR GODOT (with Brian Crabb, Tom D'Amore, Matthew Willis, Chris Scheckel, and Matt Utey). I wish you all could have been there to see what we do when we do what we do really, really well. I remember the Magic of live theatre. I marvel in the beauty of dramatic words set to dramatic situations, and I am challenged by the power of the idea of art and theatre and performance and the ritual of the aesthetic journey. I am reminded why I teach what I teach and why playwright, Arthur Miller was correct when he said that '...theatre is not just dessert, it is the bread of life.' Times are tough on the liberal arts and even tougher on those aspects of higher education that don't readily compute into big salaries and long-term job security. So why do we need music, art, theatre, dance, and literature for that matter. Because it reminds us of what it is to be human, to be connected as humans, and to begin to comprehend all else that there is beyond being human. I wish you all could see our production because, yes, it inspires me, it captivates me, and it stirs me to do what I do and to live in the hope that it is not for naught. Live theatre is fun. Live theatre is, and can be, and should be as important and as an integral part of our cultural lives as live sports, reading literature, spiritual contemplation, and life-long physical fitness.
Enough said. I just couldn't let the night go by without letting you know how relevant "GODOT" is. Thanks for reading to the end.
Dr. Claudia Sullivan
Professor of Theatre and Communications