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On the interdisciplinary nature of theater

One of the things I love most about the theater is its inherent interdisciplinary nature.

web modelExploration of the entire human condition and all that implies is the core of the art form. As a theater practitioner and educator I can delve into a huge variety of subjects in a very concrete and meaningful way. Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, for instance, explores chaos theory, thermodynamics, computer algorithms, fractals, Fermat’s theorem, the landscape design of Capability Brown, Romanticism vs. Classicism, poetry, Lord Byron, modern academia, and even South Pacific botany.  So many opportunities for teachable moments found in just one play!

The upcoming Upper School production of Picnic at Hanging Rock is another example. I am the set and light designer for this play, directed by my colleague Emily Wilson-Tobin. As I completed my set model for Emily the other day, I was struck by how well this design demonstrates the interdisciplinary nature of working in the theater.

Hanging Rock is an unusual geological feature (a mamelon) in the Macedon range of southern Australia. Not wanting to attempt a realistic depiction of a giant megalith on stage, I decided to create an abstract representation of the place based on rectilinear forms and the art of the aboriginal people of the area, the Wurundjeri people.  My design can be used as a departure point for talking about geology, history, abstraction, rectilinear forms, working in scale, principles of design, the impact of colonization, and aboriginal Australian culture, creation stories and art. This is why I love my job!

Come see the model outside of the theater office or, better yet, come see what our students have learned from the play and the design when we open November 20.

 — Laura Bird, Ph.D., Greenhills theater teacher and theater manager

Saturday, April 24
Open to anyone ages 16 and up. Limited quantities available.
Greenhills is closed for mid-winter break and will return on Tuesday, Feb. 22.