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Art and craft: contemporary directing pedagogy in colleges and universities in the United States

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The purpose of this study was to explore current pedagogical approaches of undergraduate directing curricula in selected U.S. institutions of higher learning. Building on the work of Clifford Hamar and Anne Fliotsos, the thesis builds a foundation for further study

The purpose of this study was to explore current pedagogical approaches of undergraduate directing curricula in selected U.S. institutions of higher learning. Building on the work of Clifford Hamar and Anne Fliotsos, the thesis builds a foundation for further study of contemporary directing pedagogy. Fourteen course syllabi were collected voluntarily from members of The Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) and served at the primary source material. They were interpreted and analyzed qualitatively for components that identified the methods and philosophies of the instructor and/or institution. From these syllabi, the researcher found 11 "skill categories" which cover all potential skills and bodies of information that, according to the data, a director should master. The categories are: (1) Script and Performance Analysis; (2) Directorial Techniques and Methods; (3) Production Practices; (4) Role and History of the Director; (5) Actor Training; (6) Technical Knowledge; (7) Personal Growth, Expression, and Vision; (8) Collaboration; (9) Communication; (10) Directorial Criticism; and (11) Storytelling. The categories fall on a spectrum ranging from practical based "knowledges" to skills based in individual resources and artistry, termed "abilities." Once these categories were established, the researcher examined two case study institutions: State University of New York at Buffalo (UB) and University of New Hampshire (UNH). The researcher collected public information concerning the guiding philosophies, financial profile, and curricula for both universities. From this data, combined with the 11 categories, the researcher found that the "personality" of the institution was reflected in the pedagogical approach of their respective directing courses. In the case of UB, a research-oriented institution had a production-focused directing course. UNH, with its Liberal Arts philosophy that promotes personal exploration, had a directing course that emphasized the artistic resources of the individual. Most importantly, this work creates a foundation from which future studies can be built. Broader and deeper analysis at a national level can now be approached with a framework of evaluation and analysis, leading ever closer to an understanding of the art and craft of directing.

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2010