Friday, November 24, 2017

A Tale as Old as Time: Process vs. Product

What do you focus on: A well-polished, fancy, pristine final performance, or cultivating a safe space to create, learn, play, laugh, and have fun? Can you do both at the same time? Is it a tipping scale where focusing on one side will lessen the other?

I’ve always struggled with this age-old debate and as a Teaching Artist, I’ve certainly played both sides.

Sometimes I teach with a fun, organic, laissez-faire attitude. “If you’ve had fun, you’ve won!”, I often proclaim.

Other times I drill that choreography until both my students and I are blue in the face, knowing in the end the song will look spectacular. Both my students and their parents will be impressed and proud of their hard work.

Both are important. Both have value. Both have a place in the world of TYA.

As professionals in theater for young audiences, we know the incredible value of theater education and the impact it can have on young people.   But how do we balance the educational benefits of the process of theater with the emphasis on the quality of its final product?  How much time do we focus on skills like creativity, self-expression, collaboration, etc. vs performance skills like honest & truthful acting, projection, or commitment to the given circumstances? How do we assess the experience of the young artist?  How do we explain to parents the value of the experience?

In this edition of The TYA Blog, I hope to answer the following questions:

  • How do you balance a process vs. product-based focus?
  • If students and their parents just want to “put on a show” how do you create interest in and teach parents to value the process part of our work?
  • In a perfect world, what do we want our students to take away from our classes, productions, or performances?
  • How do you set expectations for your students and their parents when starting a new class or rehearsal process? Do you communicate your objections, expectations, and standards? What do you do if your methodology and the expectations of your students or their parents are not the same?
  • Looking at the big picture (either in your local community or nationally), how do we best serve our students? How do we approach an inherently product-based artform with a reasonable educational objective in mind?

These questions are purely a jumping off point, please feel free to send other questions, ideas or blogs in reference to the process vs. product debate. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the age-old “Process vs. Product” debate.

Please shoot me an email at Saladino.Andrew@gmail.com if you have any questions, or want to contribute a 500-1000 word blog post. We’ll keep this going through the end of June.

Stay tuned!

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