With the recent appearance of Jason Alexander to give a Masterclass, I have been thinking about our reputation as a University, and also how society grades the value of a theatrical education. My fellow students have been talking about how Jason Alexander is our “success story” the one person we can point to and say “George Costanza went to MY school”.
The thing is, my school is so much more than George Costanza.
I truly believe in the work we do here at BU. The classes challenge me and cause me to think and grow and form my own opinion about the world and encourage me to make the theatre I want to make. In short, to be an active theatre maker and artist who can change the world.
Every year, The Hollywood Reporter releases its list of the best Drama Schools in the world. When boiled down, the list is merely “which school has the most famous people”.
University’s of course should be graded on how successful their students are, it is a wonderful benchmark for how well the student is being prepare to enter the profession.
I think we need a broader definition of success.
We are producing smart, intelligent citizens of the universe who are actively sharing ideas, communicating, and collaborating to formulate change. We are producing fantastic storytellers who are well trained at what we do. Would you rather have more people like that than just a recitation of where the Hollywood A-Lister’s attended.
This is not to knock those schools on the list, they are well known for a reason. But these list show stars now, people who went to schools decades ago. What will the next thirty years of annual lists look like? Will it be all of the same or will we see a shift of different names as more schools approach with different styles. It is also time to decide what the value is of a list like this. If you are trying to find the most successful schools from years ago? What is your marker of success? An Academy Award winning actor, or someone who writes in response to the world around them.
I also propose to all major theatre schools to broadcast the success of the alumni outside the mainstream. Tell me what you are your people doing, let us know how they are using the education you gave them and the impact you are having. You are going to be amazed the new people who come out wanting to learn more.