Pushing for Non-Traditional Theatre

By: Sean Byrne

At my school, there is one advanced acting professor. He follows one acting theory, the Stanislavsky method. There is one playwriting professor. She teaches what she knows. There is one experimental/ devised theatre professor. He teaches a multitude of theories and practices and encourages students to break out of their mold. He teaches one class every other year.

See what I’m getting at? My school claims to be a general arts theatre program that teaches a wide range of theatre history, yet we only get a very small sliver of the pie. For three years we are required to take the same classes the grade before us did, with the same teacher, with the same method. If you aren’t a Stanislavsky actor, well you better start learning.

Yet, as each class reaches their senior year, something beautiful happens: the senior project. Finally someone has the freedom to break from the line we’ve been treading. Phrases like “The Alexander Technique,” “devised theatre,” “The Citizens,” “viewpoints and the Lessac method,“ start getting thrown around and it’s wonderful! Learning abounds, interests are piqued and each year, I swear I hear someone say they’ve found their new passion in theatre

The same thing happened to me this past semester, but I was lucky. It wasn’t my senior project that opened my eyes; it was the every-other-semester, “you’re going to hate it” experimental theatre class. The class did so much to push me beyond the horizon, to show me what else lay out there in the wide world. And a lot of that is devised theatre. More and more professional theaters are taking a stab at devising, are branching out from the traditional modern realistic forms. This is why we as students, indeed as the history of our art form, need to be exposed to this type of non-traditional theatre. So we can be even more creative than theatre is right now, so that we can continue taking theatre to new heights.

This is why I loved coming to KCACTF. Sure, I critiqued some of the plays harshly, but they were still new works that pushed what we know as the boundary. And for that, I applaud each and every single one. I was able to attend workshops that varied from directing a staged reading to ensemble movement. There is so much I still have yet to get from my university, but I also plan to get as much as I can from opportunities like KCACTF as well..