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Handbook Appendices Forms Theatre Scholarships For Theatre Majors, Minors, and Intendeds University Theatre Handbook Table of Contents Theatre Home


Choosing the scripts in which to invest our time, labor, energy and reputation is never a simple task.  It calls for an ongoing back-of-the-head consciousness on behalf of the entire theatre staff towards plays seen or read, reviews encountered, and recommendations from students, or colleagues on campus, on other campuses, or in the professional theatre com­munity.  It calls for a refined sense of personal taste and a clear-minded assessment of personal abilities on behalf of the faculty directors.  It also demands an ongoing calculation of the abilities and readiness of current theatre students, sensitivity to campus mood and attitudes, and a dynamic vision of the flux and flow of the culture in which our artistry exists.

To clarify the ongoing search process, several criteria have emerged delimiting the educa­tional goals and needful resources which come into play when developing a production season.  Not every script we produce needs to be (or can be) of a high minded sophistication; a season, on balance, can accommodate great variety.  But from our curricular com­mitments and many years of production experience, an evaluative filter has been devised through which each script must pass.

B.2.a  Educational goals. 

All theatre productions have an obligation to entertain.  To entertain, in the sense of

1) occupying attention in an amusing or diverting way, and

2) extending hospitality toward others, and

3) causing contemplation or the receiving of ideas to take into consideration. 

Production companies usually go on to identify them­selves with other specific intentions, such as a focus on Shakespeare, contemporary plays, musical comedy, ethnic theatre, theatre for children, or whatever.  Theatre in the educa­tional setting is no different, although the emphasis may be focused as much on process as on product.  The University Theatre program has four specifically identifiable educational goals, which you will recognize as dovetailing with the “purposes” statements of the last section.  Ideally, a script will address all four educational goals but, practically, usually not with equal emphasis.

First, the script will contribute to the intellectual discussion of the campus, either addressing topics of current interest or raising topics needful of ongoing discussion by the distinctive Christian community of the university.  These topics ordinarily cut across disci­plines, and are concerned with ethical behaviors, social actions and attitudes, cultural dis­tinctions, the plight of the individual, the questions of existence, and other such ongoing human issues.  As a consequence of discussion, the script will also offer opportunity for the spiritual development of the campus as individuals wrestle with the application of Christian teachings and valuing to the topic, and discover the part of themselves which responds to the material.  Through individuals sharing those responses with others, the community awareness of the institution will be elevated.

If this sounds like heavy-duty high-blown stuff to you, and beyond our reach, remember that the purpose of theatre is not to pursue frown-line producing depth in its own discussions, but to provide the metaphors around which argument may occur.  We are about the business of creating parables from which moral discussion springs.  The distinctive nature of drama includes the knack of addressing individuals in subterranean places of the “heart,” engendering responses which oftentimes defy coherent rational explication.  The themes do not need to be mind-boggling, but do need to be rooted in universal truth.  Intellectual discussion will swirl out of the struggle to describe responses to these truths. 

Second, the script will provide significant artistic challenges for new learning by performers and production crew members.  The assurance of complete success in the final product is not necessarily important for this goal; risk is a required part of the artistic process.  What is of importance is a coherent artistic vision for you and all members of the production team to strive toward, and a reasonable chance for satisfactory resolution of the major elements of that objective.  Success without challenge is not a desirable educational outcome in a university setting.

Also required for your rounded educational exposure is an introduction to a wide vari­ety of theatrical styles.  Therefore, we choose our scripts to accommodate a loosely three-year pattern of styles exposure.  A three-year cycle should meet the needs of trans­fer students as well as those who stay at Seattle Pacific for the traditional four years.  We are not slavish about specific patterns within the three years, but attempt to produce one or more examples of the following in that time period:

1) High Comedy, 2) Farce, 3) Shakespeare and other Period Classics, 4) Realism, 5) Romanticism, 6) Impressionism or other Abstractionist styles, 7) Social Issues plays, 8) Musical Theatre, and 9) Contemporary just-for-fun Popular pieces.  Each of these styles provokes significant scenic, costume, lighting, and perfor­mance distinctions, and a whole new set of problems to address.

Third, the script will afford members of our audience an opportunity to develop another aspect of their theatrical understandings and knowledge of the ways plays indicate meaning.  It will provide them with choices for new modes of response, sometimes threatening their aesthetic assumptions and, hopefully, enlarging their artistic sensibility and so­phistication.  Opportunities may need to be created to surround the performances with discussion sessions, specific program notes, published articles, or other such devices to assist less experienced audience members in advancing their aesthetic understandings.

Fourth, the script will allow us to model and advance a Christian perspective of the­atrical art.  This does not mean that the subject matter of our productions must always be evangelical and overtly theological in nature.  Plays which have advocacy as their goal are not plays at all, but polemic.  Nor does it mean our script choices must always spring from Christian sources.  It does mean that, as Christians, we choose to invest our gifts in theatre which

1) comments on the human experience as a spiritual journey, rather than a view of life as a string of arbitrary incidents to be seized for purposes of self-aggrandizement;

2) which reflects the goodness of creation rather than glorifying the decay and chaos of a fallen world;

3) which views the opportunities of life as endowed by God with choice, and which approves willful moral ascendancy; and

4) theatre which endorses the putting aside of self and embraces other-centered community.

It goes without saying, that examples of what we determine to be negative behavior serve as “relief” (as in sculpture) for what we consider to be rightful, and can make our endorsed characters and actions all the stronger by contrast.  So we’re not talking “safe” theatre here.  Rather we speak of a theatre which recognizes and can show the distortions and pain of life while still opting for a Christian perspective as its own cause. 

Next Section: B2b: Availability of Resources

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