Listening to Morty Schapiro’s talk to the Williams community last week, I was particularly inspired by the passion with which he spoke about the concept and practice of a liberal arts education. It’s a concept and an idea that I believe inspires most of us here at Williams. Certainly, in the theatre department, the privilege and excitement of teaching students who are specifically NOT in a professional training program is what attracted me to this place and what keeps me here. It is this atmosphere of learning and experimentation that inspires new ideas and exciting innovations in the arts.
In the light of this, and as Chair of the theatre department, I want to identify myself unconditionally with the remarks made by my colleague, Cosmo Catalano, which appeared in these columns two weeks ago. He expressed my sentiments exactly. We would love a new facility for the teaching of theatre and dance, and the ideas of our architects are most exciting. Mr. Herbert Allen has indeed endowed this college with a gift that could be to its advantage as we push the envelope of theatre and dance studies and merge our two fields. I believe that we could contribute much to the development of ideas in our field, and that both educators and professionals could be drawn to Williamstown as its reputation for innovation and experimentation increased.
The note of warning I have is that it must be recognized that it is the people who teach in theatre and dance who best know how our new facility should be programmed and scheduled. In order for this to work, so that the college has maximum use of the building alongside the academic needs of our two programs, there can be no question of a person independent of our departments holding the job of programmer. It is an area that is intrinsic to how we teach, and should remain, as it has always done, within the activities of the theatre and dance departments. Only then can we truly identify ourselves with what our president-elect has so eloquently described as a truly liberal arts education.
Chair & Professor
Department of Theatre