Performance Training Philosophy
The mission and intent of our performance program can be described in both philosophical and pragmatic terms. On a philosophical level, students are encouraged to perceive and experience their world in direct new ways and to incorporate sensory perception, feeling and imagination in their intellectual awareness of reality. As students learn to view their world through the eyes of the actor or the dancer, they begin to appreciate not merely the difficulty of the performer's art, but also the wonder and complexity of their own natures. Students who complete even introductory level courses will have a broader, more complete view of themselves and their world, will have touched new levels of imaginative and emotional expressiveness and will be more open and receptive towards other people.
Any performance training program should seek to stimulate and release the imaginative and creative energies of its students, while instilling a deep and profound respect for the technical and craft skills that have to be mastered and maintained by rigorous PRACTICE and strict DISCIPLINE. This presents a major problem. It is the unavoidable conflict built into the structure and management of such a program, with the age-old struggle between freedom and chaos on one hand, discipline and order on the other. It is necessary to maintain A DELICATE BALANCE between those opposing forces throughout the program because the subjugation of one element by the other will result in imbalance and the ultimate loss of that element in the student's work.
In an undergraduate program, it is necessary to encourage instinctive and emotional freedom of expression in students even if that leads them in the direction of self-indulgence and anarchy in the early stages of that training. Without the colorful spontaneity and release that accompanies emotional freedom their work will remain stiff, pallid, predictable, and subject always to the strangulating grip of reason. Each creative breakthrough (knowing full well that creative release occurs at irregular and infrequent moments and not in one blinding spasm) is subject to rigorous analysis and definition. However, students are encouraged and expected to find a way to integrate each new discovery into their structured and thus consciously controlled working technique. This ensures that instinctive or emotional energies are constantly harnessed to serve the interests of the text and the character and not merely to provide the actor with a source of self-gratification.
The overall objective of the performance program is to guide the student into making difficult and at times contradictory discoveries about the performer's creative process; to challenge knowledge and understanding and force extension and refinement of craft skills to meet the increasingly complex demands of a wide scope of performance possibilities.