Frank Episale is an editor, writer, educator, and theatre artist living and working in Brooklyn. He holds a BFA from New York University, an MA from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and an MPhil from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. This is his (infrequently updated) blog. He's pretty google-able, if you'd like to know more.

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Sunday
Aug292010

A note on my teaching philosophy.

Tomorrow is my first day of teaching for the new semester. I added the following "note" to my Theatre History syllabus today, and thought a few of you might find it worth reading. Or mocking, depending on your mood and your inclination...

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For me, the course description above raises as many questions as it answers. As we move through the semester, I hope to challenge preconceptions and dominant notions about theatrical practice, theatre history, and the theatrical present, as well as the meanings of terms like “the West” and the role of theatre and performance in the larger culture. Questions I hope to explore include:

  • What is theatre? Why do we make theatre? Is theatre important?
  • Who is the “author” of a theatrical production?
  • What constitutes “good” or “important” theatre?
  • What does theatre tell us about the culture and politics of a given historical moment?
  • How can studying past events help us to understand the present and shape the future of both our art and our society?
  • What is “the West”?
  • What is the canon?  How do we choose which texts make it into a course on theatre history?
  • Whose stories do we erase by focusing on a handful of figures in a handful of countries?
  • Why should theatre practitioners (actor, directors, designers, etc.) care about theatre history and theatre theory?

I am much more interested in your ability to engage with such questions than I am in your ability to memorize series of facts. Unless specifically noted, you should feel free to consult your notes and texts for all assignments, including exams. Information is widely available. What is less common than access to information is the skill required to navigate, evaluate, curate, and interrogate that information. I am not here to dispense knowledge, but to facilitate learning

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