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Writing Event #13: The End

Welp, this is it, the end!

To be completely honest, my entrance in this class was not because I wanted to major in Theatre, but simply because I needed the credit. It was also pretty much one of the classes chosen for me, so that was a fun thing to witness. I’ve never been a huge theater buff, but I can definitely say I found a lot of enjoyment in the class, and this is probably the one I looked forward to a lot since it was the only one I had in-person. The contents, while different, kind of remind me of the structure of the Greek and Roman Myth class, learning about the history and foundations of each subject, although one is much less chronological than the other. For some reason I definitely get a kick out of history, so that was something I definitely enjoyed a lot. It was also nice to learn more about how thing actually worked. My sister was supposed to be in our high school’s production of Les Mis, but because of the pandemic, that idea was pretty much canned. I knew the bare minimum of the process, basic level thinking, but now I feel like I know a lot more about how everything goes together. If I’m being completely honest, I think that’s the one thing I’ll take away the most.

It kind of relates to how I write my own short stories and pieces; i you remove an essential aspect of the process, the final result isn’t going to work as well as you want it to. Just like you want your story to connect to the audience, it’s similar to the way an author wants to capture the reader’s attention with the story they want to tell. I’m not the most outspoken person, and I can tell you that I commend those whoa re able to craft something excellent, especially actors, because even though I’ve been in a good amount of plays when I was younger, I could never put myself out there without having a nervous breakdown. This class has definitely made me appreciate everything that goes into theatre, the good and bad of it all. It can come from the most unexpected places (yes, this is real and I’m all for it), and can bring opportunity to those who didn’t think it was possible before. Theatre is too passionate to die anytime soon, and the whole world is it’s audience!

With that, I guess you could say end scene.

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Writing Event #12: STEM and…the arts?

Over the past few years, there appears to be much more advocacy for STEM than ever before. The importance of STEM jobs have become far more realized from a technological standpoint, along with for the long-term. However, there seems to be. debate that’s also arisen because of the newfound rise of STEM: How do the arts and STEM relate?

It can be a bit daunting to think about, given that the arts and STEM can be classified as two different areas as a whole. You could say that projects out of the arts, or STEAM, are more inclined to the use of creativity, while STEM could be considered more logical. However, wouldn’t both use that same amount of critical thinking? According to an article written by Connie Lin of Fast Company, she claims that “creativity is general in nature,” and is a multifaceted competency that involves similar attitudes, disposition, skills, and knowledge, all transferable from one situation to another.”

While the aspects in which creativity is applied can be different for both the arts and STEM, it doesn’t take away from the fact that creativity is a sole part of both fields. Creativity allows us to think outside of the box, along with forming critical solutions to different scenarios. Creativity can be described as “human skills that computers, artificial intelligence, and automation cannot achieve,” which is where the similarities of STEM and the arts begin to blend once again. Tara Henderson explains that β€œThe arts allow us to expand ways of knowing and learning to inspire more learners,” furthering the idea that the arts and STEM can coincide, but also benefit each other. An example could be how she also explains how she’d implemented an “art-inclusive approach” to teaching STEM, allowing these concepts to be realized and connected through an artistic lens. There is a broad appeal to the arts, and it allows us to not only improve upon these skills more, but it also can give us new outlooks on art in general.

Overall, the arts and STEM are similar because of their creative aspects, as stated above. They may not seem similar at first glance given the contrasting subjects of both fields, but both field not only require out of the box thinking, but creativity also furthers the effort fo both fields, and they can co-exist and collaborate in helping those who aspire to be in either field.

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Writing Event #11: Do Roles Matter?

When it comes to playing the role of a character, it seems the subject of who exactly plays said role has become more of a widespread topic. Mainly becoming more prominent in the latter half of this decade, many wonder whether playing the role of something you aren’t is acceptable. One prominent example that has been prevalent during the second half of this year was the controversy of white actors playing roles of color, mainly in animation. This was during the peak of the BLM resurgence, and it brought many talking points to the table on whether change needed to come to the industry when it came to playing these roles.

Of course, you could argue in some way that some of the actors who’ve played these roles have been playing this character for a long time (a prominent example being Cleveland of Family Guy), or simply the fact that the person is talented and fit for the role. While the argument is sound in some way, the problem does not lie in whether the person is talented or not, but rather the concept of whitewashing in the industry, a practice that has been going on for decades. Many actors who played the roles of people of color stepped down as a result of this, as they believed because of this practice, their roles were casted incorrectly, and that by playing the role they were engaging in some form of erasure.

The same can also be said for when it comes to cisgender actors playing the role of a transgender individual. The term ‘Cis’ is the simple term for someone who identifies with their biological sex, being male or female. This is another prominent example of why roles matter, even if you are a talented actor. Of course, a cisgender actor could have the talent to play the role, but giving the role to a transgender individual will not only be a more fitting choice, but it also gives more weight to the role as a whole. That sort of representation matters and as we’re trying to fix many practices in the acting industry that could be considered wrong now, it’s important to not just consider one’s talent in a role, but the authenticity of playing a character that you can connect to.

There’s a reason why a musical like Hamilton opened the gateway for people of color to be inspired and dream for a role on stage like that; it’s not just talent, but representing others in an authentic way can make change. More actors are starting to cast in roles that fit who they are as people, and the realization sinks in when this inspires others to play a role like that in the future. So, do roles matter? Absolutely. Yes, there’s a lot of talent out there. But combine the two, and you’ve got a recipe for something special.

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Writing Event #10: Letter Response

To those of the Mary Washington board, I would like to start this by saying that I do understand small aspecs f your decision. Your talk of budget during a crisis such as this is understandable, and so forth. However, I cannot deny the fact that not only are several aspects of your decisions not only unreasonable, but the decision to remove a core aspect of your school is a contrast to what you are trying to achieve as a university that specializes in Liberal Arts.

To start this off properly, one of your larger reasons for the consideration of the theatre program’s removal is very problematic, that in which being the suppression of controversial content. When I first heard your response in that letter, to be honest, I was shocked. A school that thrives off of making an equal place for all doing something like this? If anything, that decision is a large step backwards. As someone who grew up in a christian family (baptist), I understand to a degree where you’re coming from. I know there are many religions out there that don’t exactly think highly of some things, and can get very fired up about it. I’m very aware of it, especially given that one of my family members who I love dearly, actually is very weary of the LGBTQ community because he grew up in a time where it wasn’t as widely accepted as it is now. Simply put, he’s the classic close-minded hispanic dad. However, that does not mean I think it’s okay in any way. In fact, I don’t think being gay, transgender, or anything of the sorts is a sin. But no matter how hard we try, we’re not going to change everyone’s minds, and it’s a sad truth. So while I understand how you could “offend” some people with the plays you produce, I think it’s very important that these subjects are displayed to the public. People are going to get offended by lots of things, no matter how harmless it seems in concept. If people are sheltered to the many things the world, not only will they not be able to expand their own thought process, but in my opinion, sheltering people from lots of things in the world is just cowardly. It’s simply cowardice because although people will be exposed to lots of things as they grow up, it’s important that people are able to gain knowledge and opinions about things.

Lots of voices matter. Hearing different voices matters, even if you don’t necessarily agree with it yourself. Before my current theater class, I can’t lie when I say I wasn’t very fond of it. Not that I hated it, but given my twin is obsessed with it, let’s just say I found it more annoying than enjoyable in a sense. But being in a class like the one I’m in now, I value theater and what it brings us more than ever. People are so connected to theater because it gives representation to topics and world views that a lot of media is afraid to touch, and in a way, it could be pulled off in a way only theater could accomplish. It’s not just something where people act, they give value to the audience, and could give others to reflect on even today. I still remember the first time I watched a live musical (which was before the pandemic!), and I felt like I realized that magic, and I felt like I was in a completely different world. Experiencing theatre changes a lot of things, and learning about all kinds of theatre is a lot of fun to me.

Even if you don’t believe it, even if you want to shelter others from subject that people won’t like, theater is an important part of the pride of UMW. There’s no fear in speaking about things that are ‘taboo’ in your eyes, if anything, those ‘taboos’ are just things that society wants to hide under the dust. There is a place for theatre here, and I know I’m not the only one who thinks this way. I’m a person who dreams of writing things that will change the world, and theatre has changed the world and inspired so many! It’s helped with progression, getting voices to be heard like never before, and most of all, it makes you think. In a world where things are pretty busy, especially here in the DMV, theatre is a reminder that things can slow down. If you take the time to realize the things around, even if life isn’t what we expect at all, it can be beautiful. It seems a bit selfish of me to talk about how much I find theater fun, but I believe that a lot of other people think the same way. We’re a Liberal Arts college, we strive to makes all sorts of things known despite the advertises of the world. What makes theatre the exception to our progress?

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