- by Jacob Coakley
in Company 411
How Marymount Manhattan College goes beyond theatre to create better theatre artists
Marymount Manhattan College’s theatre training program offers students options—lots of options. Whether that’s a BFA in Acting, a BA in Theatre Arts, or even a competitive Musical Theatre program, it’s all offered in a structured, hands-on program offering majors experiences in all aspects of production. It’s also located in the center of Manhattan, surrounded by the vibrant history and landscape of one of the world’s leading theatre cities. Kevin Connell, a Professor at Marymount Manhattan and Assistant Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts, spoke to us about what makes Marymount Manhattan special, and how they teach students to find their own artistry.
On why theatre is not about theatre:
The wonderful thing about Marymount Manhattan is that we are a Liberal Arts college. Because we believe theatre’s not about theatre—it’s about moments in history and who was president at a specific time, and a health crisis that’s happening, and interpersonal relations—and suddenly you have Angels in America. It’s about all of these life things that we want students to think about, because that’s how you get to the truth of a play. We take the dramaturgical side of theatre very seriously. We want students to come to Marymount Manhattan, not as an excuse to get to New York City—but to get a college education that takes full advantage of the city.
In and of New York City—in a manageable way:
In the midst of this huge, important theatre mecca, we are a small school. We tell parents that we see our students on good days, and we smile and have conversation. And we see students on bad days, and we smile and have a conversation. We are an immense safe zone for students finding themselves. We have a really strong, diverse population. We challenge students at times, but in a safe environment. Students gravitate to us because we feel more human and family friendly, a sort of safe haven in the city. That’s a great thing to come to every day and then still create wonderful theatre.