Early Spring in 2014 I had the opportunity to attend the National Association of Schools of Theater's (NAST) conference in Chicago. At the time Dixie State was aspiring to be NAST accredited - it takes a lot of work, but puts you in the company of the best programs in the country.
Anyway, while we were there I took a little time to visit the Art Institute of Chicago. I'd recently finished directing Sunday in the Park With George, and wanted to see the painting that inspired the musical.
In terms of size, Seurat's "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte," dominates the room. But facing that huge work, my eyes kept being drawn off to the right where a series of Monet's London bridge paintings were hung. Images of Waterloo and Charing Cross bridges, Houses of Parliament. I remember thinking how stunning the paintings were and that I wish I'd had the opportunity to study with someone capable of creating such work.
That is the moment when I began to understand how important productions are in theatre studies. Certainly technique matters, and can only help in producing consistent quality. Acting classes should give students the skills to navigate their way across the character map, focusing on doing the work that occurs on stage. (And why on earth had Design/Tech fallen so low on the priority list, when, like in politics, perception is reality?)
Process isn't what makes students interested in your work, or by extension, interested in studying at your school. I believe classes are something many students think they have to endure, in order to get on stage and actually participate in the work. If it doesn't relate to what they'll be doing on stage, is it really relevant? Everything else is theory.