Theatre as a way of knowing…

From Spencer: For me, theater has always been about expanding my interpersonal and critical thinking skills. In high school, it was mostly about the former; it was a good way to make friends. No matter how good or bad I was, I was usually not the worst or the best. I was among colleagues and peers, even when competing against them! This friendly competition formed the bedrock of my social palette. The highlight of my week was traveling to various definitions of the “one horse town” and spending two days with creative, talented, academically superior, and outgoing students attempting to perfect our form. How many activities could boast such a hodgepodge?

When I got to college, I found that the skills I had developed through theater in high school allowed me to focus more on critical thinking and less on interpersonal skills. I now knew how to create healthy relationships with ‘the right people’ – smart, involved, and ethically sound. Not at all to my surprise had I found most of them held a deep passion for performance arts, be it vocal or instrumental, traditional theater, or improvisational. And not at all to my surprise had I found most of them held disdain regarding the lack of support for such endeavors. I now have had two friends leave Regis in search of a more supportive performance infrastructure.

One might ask how theater expanded my critical thinking skills; I might encourage them to take on a role to see for themselves. Working with Dr. Janna Goodwin, Chair of the Communication Department, during my freshman year and beyond challenged me in new ways to fully develop a character. Janna would constantly stop me and ask, “What is he thinking here? What are you looking at?” I’m not going to lie: I’ve never found thinking critically to be a particularly weak point of mine. And yet, I found those weeks working on Richard III, Dr. Fred Bockman, or any number of roles to be some of my most difficult and rewarding weeks of college. Most importantly, though, fully creating a character has given me one of the richer moments of my life – viewing another slice of the human experience.

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