When I was came to BU as a freshman I was excited to choose classes but wasn’t exactly thrilled when it came to “filling requirements,” and I dreaded the writing requirement in particular. It is not that I didn’t like writing, it was just that it was required and there were so many options I wasn’t sure which class would be a good fit for me. All I was given to make my decision was a laundry list of class titles and a few sentences describing a semester’s worth of work. Luckily I chose two classes that I loved a lot but it still daunting to have to choose without knowing what the class is all about.
Fortunately for future freshmen programs are being launched to help invite them into a larger community within the city through different classroom experiences. The College of Arts and Sciences is trying to actively engage freshmen with the creation of the First Year Experience Program. The program aims to create community beyond the classroom so that learning can take place anywhere providing students with the opportunity to learn through experience. And that’s exactly what professors Bill Marx and Tony Wallace have done with their class Theater Now!
According to the Theater Now website, “Students should begin to see themselves as members of a learning community that extends beyond the boundaries of the individual classroom to encompass other students, faculty, and institutions.” Marx and Wallace have made the writing requirement more dynamic by immersing students into the city’s culture by turning theaters into classrooms.
Each semester Marx and Wallace pick out three plays that the class studies and then then class sees a production of these plays. Originally the class would study and see plays that were being performed at BU. Thanks to the support of Dean Sapiro and the College of Arts and Sciences First Year Experience program the class is now able to go see and study plays in Boston’s extensive theatrical community. And that isn’t the only way that Theater Now has expanded. Last semester there was only one section of Theater Now, but this coming Fall semester five sections of the class will be offered to students.
Marx and Wallace hope that the class helps further students’ understanding of the material by bringing them directly into the material. They explained that the typical way to study a play would be read it in class and discuss. The next level is to go out and experience the play being performed. A level above that would be have the playwright or an actor come in and speak to the class about the play, which is exactly what these professors are encouraging in their class.
Though the class requires that students sacrifice some time out of class to go see the play, many believe it is well worth the extra time commitment. If you don’t believe Marx and Wallace, just check out the video at the top of this post, which contains testimonials from past Theater Now students.
In addition to creating a unique learning experience outside of the classroom, Marx and Wallace are striving to enhance the classroom experience by making coursework interactive through the use of new media and social networks. When asked what they hope to see happen with Theater Now in the future, Marx states he “would love to see and study a new play that would knock everyone’s socks off. Something that says something about the contemporary world and something through which we can discover something about ourselves and the world around us.” Sounds ambitious, but then again so is this class and these professors!
To find out more about the Theater Now visit their website or contact Bill Marx (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Tony Wallace (email@example.com).