17 January 2008

When I Read This, I Said Aloud, "Oh No!" And Then Had to Explain Why to My Intern

Just yesterday I heard this as part of a rumor. I'm glad I wasn't entirely unprepared.

"The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel, director of the playwriting programs at Brown University for 24 years, has been appointed an adjunct professor and the chairwoman of the playwriting department at Yale School of Drama. She’ll be part of a much bigger drama department, but that’s what appeals to her, she said. 'I’m really proud of the students that I’ve had and really proud of the program,' Ms. Vogel said of her time at Brown, 'but I feel like I’ve just about done everything I can do.' The appointment, which begins July 1, is for five years."

I love many playwrights from Brown's MFA program. In part because my taste was so shaped by going there, by coming through the writing program as an undergrad (fiction and other prosey things, not playwrighting). There's an aesthetic there, sort of, but it's more a sense of freedom that pervades the writing program, across the genres. Maybe that freedom creates the aesthetic. There's something about a focus on language, too. But I also love many playwrights from Brown because so many are shaped, in some way, by Paula - by her teaching methods, but also by her taste, I assume. I wonder what this means for that program. I wonder what this means for Yale. I wonder if this means I should get my dramaturgy MFA in New Haven. I mostly, though, wonder what this means for Brown's program.

When I was at Brown, Yale tried to steal Oskar Eustis from Trinity Rep and the Brown/Trinity Consortium he (and everyone else) was building. Obvs, they failed, but the Public succeeded a few years later. I know people move between institutions all the time, but I hate feeling like all the wonderful people find that one place that's just that much more prestigious. I'm not faulting Oskar or Paula for their choice. I just want the place I love to be the fanciest place, too.

Seriously, though, how much involvement does the head of playwriting have with the dramaturgy MFA?

[Read Isaac's take here. Good stuff in the comments.]


anna said...

yale has a dramaturgy mfa??

clearly i need another exquisite and unuseful degree.

anna said...

ps yes. oskar and paula are hard losses to take. i wished i'd gotten to work her instead of just panting around her heels a couple times like a dazed puppy dog. of course, if brown were the fanciest in theatrely things, it'd be a different kind of place with sharper edges and less access to those people than we had. though sad about paula, maybe also proud that brown nurtures/appreciates such amazing artists and keeps them around so long despite fanciness and lack thereof?