Teaching Drama

You Might As Well Do What You Want

Recently a teacher ordered a production of one of our shows.

Exactly nine days later, we received the following email. I changed the names to protect the innocent, but this is pretty much how the email read:

Joe Smith, who has been the director of the Somewhereville Drama Department for the last five years was laid off from his teaching position last week. This was a shock to everyone and we are trying to regroup and keep the theatre program going at least for this year. I’m going to be taking over but at a reduced pace. We will not be performing “Show Title” this year. Can we cancel?

That’s right… nine days after ordering, the teacher’s position was cut.

When I was in University, the “safe” choice was teaching. “Go into teaching,” people would say, “You’ll never be out of work. Do you really want to be an unemployed actor your whole life?” It was certainly true back then, but it’s not true any more. I don’t think any traditional jobs are 100% safe choices any more.

So how do we deal with this uncertainty? What do we tell kids about what jobs to pursue?

I’m an avid reader of The Mission Paradox Blog by arts marketer Adam Thurman. He blogs about arts marketing. But it’s not “put up 100 posters” marketing, it’s real, authentic audience-building stuff like passion for your art, passion for your audiences, pushing your boundaries, taking risks, creating community. This is advice that can be applied to any job. Back in August he quoted an (unnamed) arts teacher:

I would tell my students to go pursue their dreams of being an artist and then the devil would take them, tempt them, and make them become a banker, or a middle manager, or whatever. Now the devil is just tired and the good news is there are no jobs, so you might as well do what you want.

You might as well do what you want.

Love it. Agree 100%. I take “do what you want” to mean do what you’re passionate about. What you love. What makes you tick. What gets you out of bed in the morning.

The wave of the future is all about being creative, passionate and agile. Three of the core skills that we learn in drama classes. There’s never been a better time to take risks. Drama teaches risk.

About the author

Craig Mason