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Why Do a Graduate Theatre Program?

October 19, 2012

Whenever I say the sentence “I’m getting a master’s in Educational Theatre from NYU” I get fifty different responses just from 3 different parts in the sentence alone. Especially since It’s an MA program, and I still aim to get an MFA in Directing from a good school one day, there’s plenty of people (including theatre people) that don’t get why I’m doing what I’m doing. Some don’t see a point in going to school for theatre, while others don’t understand why I want to do 2 master degrees instead of a PhD.

My reason for my plan of action is simple: it’s what’s right for me. I feel I needed to go back to school and train with professionals as well as my peers, and from my very first week earlier this year of my classes, I felt if I dropped out at that point that I would’ve grown as an artist. Now that I’m about halfway done with this semester (and to this point I have 26 credits left to finish including the ones I’m currently doing), it’s really inspired me to do new things I’ve never done before and think about new things I haven’t before.

Also doing a graduate theatre program is completely different from doing an undergraduate program. I feel like I learned about every aspect of theatre in a general sense in college. Compared to now, where it’s not only focused on anything I want to learn about, but it’s so specific that you learn just about everything you need and want to know about that focus. All the little gaps that I felt were in my BA degree, are filled in and more with the classes I took/are in with my MA degree. Along with that, since I’m doing an MA program, I pretty much take whatever I want to know more about. It’s not just “I’m taking this class because it’s required” but “I’m in this class because I want to learn more about this subject.”

Another reason it’s worth doing is something I somewhat mentioned before, but it’s because of the hands on training it offers. Yes theatre is something you need experience in to grow. An aspiring actor needs plenty of on stage and on camera experience to get better. Each time that actor works on another show, they learn new things about what works and what they need to improve on. However everyone reaches a point where they can’t improve on their own anymore and that they need the help and training of others with more experience. Grad school is the perfect place for that growth. You start to see things in a new way, learn in a new light, and pick out on where you need to improve along with what are your strong points.

Ultimately, everyone has to do what’s right for them. However I’m a strong believer that an education is for everyone. Not every level is for everyone, especially since I’m fairly sure I’m not meant to go for a PhD, but even just an Associate’s degree is helpful since you get to spend some time sitting in a room with your peers and learn about new ideas and concepts. And for me, I feel I’ve grown 10 times more from doing my masters.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2012 10:16 am

    I absolutely agree that everyone should have equal access to education. There is no doubt about it. I have what would be considered pretty radical thoughts on education and its relevance, importance, necessity, it’s place in the world and moreso, how we as a culture define education, which would be a post in and of itself. However, in terms of graduate school (and even with some undergraduate programs) I dabble in whether or not the debt justifies the means. I have a number of undergraduate theatre students with $150,000 in college debt (for a BA in theatre) who aren’t even out of school yet. I also know MFA candidates who take $200,000 out on top of whatever debt they occurred in undergrad. This is becoming the norm. Unless these students come from money or have promises of jobs that will be able to pay down these loans, the reality of living with NYC “survival jobs” and being able to pay loans on top of costs of living in the city are pretty slim. These universities that continue to buy real estate at the expense of the students, raising the tuition exuberant amounts each year need to be called out and forced to stop. At the rate we are headed, only a privileged few will be able to attend college and graduate programs which is a disgrace and disservice to our future. I have considered going back to school for various things but the debt isn’t worth it at this point in time. That, however, is no excuse to not continue educating myself (education comes in many forms that is not necessarily the traditional university experience). Until our society places more value on the arts (ie: provides artists with a livable wages so these loans can be paid off, among many other things…) I cannot justify taking out another $100,000+ and being an indentured servant to Citibank, Sallie Mae and the rest of the loan sharks.

  2. October 19, 2012 5:38 pm

    I’ve been mulling getting some formal theater training — beyond the odd class here and there — as I’ve gotten more serious about acting. I don’t have any interest in getting an advanced degree, but I might do a conservatory program at some point.

  3. October 20, 2012 12:40 am

    PTM: I completely agree with you. The loan situation in this day and age is completely ridiculous. Higher Education should be one of the prime things supported in our society, yet it is by far one of the lowest. Yet it’s impossible to get a job without one. Student loans is one of the biggest problems we have in our society, and it’s one thing that NEEDS to be resolved (the things I’m going for just for my master’s financially is disgusting). Everyone should have the freedom to do what’s best for them education wise without the concern of financials.

    Latebloomingactor: You should do it! Look into it, follow your heart and do what’s right for you.

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  1. Sunday Summary — October 21, 2012 « The Green Room

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