In a recent article for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Clayton M. Christensen, a professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School, drew an analogy between Harvard and the for-profit world, describing how new businesses often enter the bottom of a market then reach and claim untapped customers through some technological advance. Eventually these new businesses move up-market to overtake the dominant player. Higher education once was immune, he said, until the spread of online learning, allowing lower-cost providers to extend into the higher reaches of the marketplace.
"Higher education," he said, "is vulnerable to disruption."
Robert Lepage, one of Canada's most innovative artists, related this vulnerability to theatre when he said, “We are confronted with audiences whose narrative vocabulary has evolved. They can read stories backwards now, and jump cut, and flash forward . . . [N]ew audiences are extremely educated—they have tools to play with—and I’m afraid that often theatre doesn’t trigger that, doesn’t invite that into its realm.”
When my theatre department planned a "revisioning" retreat in 2012, I wrote a short letter to my colleagues to suggest a platform for discussion. I wrote another letter a week after the retreat had concluded.
I think these letters represent my views on teaching theatre in the twenty-first century: