Creating theatre has been my passion for as long as I have understood the word passion. However, this creation of theatre, and my place in its creation, has changed and shifted throughout my career. At first, I believed that my only contribution to this art form was through performance and I worked throughout my undergraduate career to equip myself with the tools I would need to do just that. While I do feel that this is where so much of my passion lies within the field of theatre, I have learned that creating theatre is much larger than only performing.
Following my undergraduate education, I was fortunate enough to further my education and was awarded MA in Theatre, allowing me to teach at the undergraduate level. Each semester, I focus my Introduction to Theatre Arts classes around the concept “theatre affects you, or it should.” This simple phrase suddenly became my reason for doing what it is that I do.
Growing up in rural, Appalachian Kentucky gave me a very unique perspective on theatre and what it can do both for those creating it and for those experiencing it. Not only was I raised in this area, I still live in this very rural area. Lindsey Wilson College’s Theatre Program has helped me to understand that creating theatre in rural Appalachia isn’t just work in theatre, it is a specific mission to affect people. Through telling stories, singing songs, and teaching theatre I am able to affect people by giving them spaces in which exploring our past, our present, and the future that could be. Through catharsis, through community awareness, through exposure to new stories, and through allowing them the opportunity to simply create a piece of theatre, I want to affect their lives in such a way that they feel as though their voice matters. I believe that this is what theatre is truly about and it is certainly what I am about.
I believe that this is my philosophy of theatre, but also of education; Theatre affects you, or it should. Through performance, directing, designing, my teaching I want to affect people and tell stories in such a compelling way that they are able to feel more connected to humanity. To quote noted scholar bell hooks’ pivotal book Teaching to Transgress, “To be changed by ideas was pure pleasure. But to learn ideas that ran counter to values and beliefs learned at home was to place oneself at risk, to enter the danger zone.” I want to expose audiences to new and challenging ideas. I want to challenge in the safe and understanding space of the theatre and the theatre classroom. Most of all, I want to change how people view themselves and their relation to others and the world.
By this same token, however, I believe that my place in the classroom is to be affected by my students. It would be inappropriate for me to ask students to challenge their views and their understanding of their place in the world through theatre without being willing to do the same thing myself when presented with a new worldview from a student. Each semester, I am overwhelmed by the sheer amount of life that each student brings with them to my classroom. As a first-generation college student myself, I strive to bring equal amounts of student voice and academic voice into the classroom. This tactic has proven to provide students with the safe space mentioned above where they feel they can be challenged, challenge each other, and most importantly, challenge me.
In short, through education and theatre, students and artists should affect themselves, each other, myself, and the world around them.
Overall, this class was completed very well. The professor was extremely helpful, even after the switch to online instruction. The course content was always presented in a clear manner so that there were multiple ways to understand the topic. The professor was always very understanding and willing to work with the students no matter what the issues were, which was something that became very crucial after switching to online instruction. The professor was able to switch the class to online near flawlessly while still being able to address student concerns. That speaks numbers upon the professor, as this was a difficult switch for so many students and professors.
Jeremy did the best job teaching this course. I took this class as an elective, with absolutely no interest in theatre at all. As the semester comes to an end, I have realized the significance of the art. Jeremy is a very understanding, flexible, and helpful professor. He most definitely brought life and meaning to the course. Jeremy has a way of connecting and engaging with each individual student. His outgoing, bright personality is always welcoming, and can motivate his students. I appreciate the opportunities that Jeremy provided to his students. The course work allowed us to express ourselves freely, which was very stress relieving during this difficult semester. I have gained a lot from this course intellectually.
I think Jeremy does an excellent job of engaging his students and making class actually enjoyable, perhaps better than any instructor I've had so far. It was the only class I had this semester that I actually looked forward to, and this had a tremendous impact on my learning. I also really like how we had reflections each week instead of quizzes. These required me to really think about what we had learned and apply it to other things, rather than just having a test over the content of a play.
- Anonymous Student Evaluation Comment from Introduction to Theatre Arts