Business classes teach students how to collaborate effectively all the time. In theater, it sometimes is the one thing that gets overlooked, but it's the most important, I think, if they are going to look at doing theater professionally.

Students in assistant professor Anjalee Deshpande Hutchinson's theater classes will study more than the finer points of acting. They will also learn the vital life lessons of problem solving, collaboration and leadership.

Hutchinson, an accomplished actor and director, teaches a class based on ensemble, or self-created, theater.

"The people who perform it are the people who write it, working in groups as a collaboration," says Hutchinson. She starts the class off with a problem, such as social justice, and the students decide what issue within the problem they will address in their performance. The somewhat unstructured format can throw students off at first, but that is part of the lesson.

"They have to make their own guidelines. That's what I think higher education should be. It challenges them to create a problem-solving technique for themselves," she says. "We are hoping they will become leaders and they need to do that as leaders."

As the students work through their ideas, they also learn how to work together to put together a public performance from start to finish.

"Business classes teach students how to collaborate effectively all the time," says Hutchinson. "In theater, it sometimes is the one thing that gets overlooked, but it's the most important, I think, if they are going to look at doing theater professionally."

She looks forward to working in the liberal arts environment, with students of different majors.

"The mix of personalities is really important for group work and finding creative problem solving techniques as a group," she says. "The more diverse student body we can make up in those classes, the more exciting the results will be."

As a director, Hutchinson is certified in the very physical Michael Chekhov technique and hopes to train in Viewpoints and Suzuki techniques.

Posted Sept. 22, 2008

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