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Music theater program combines collaboration and creativity


STACY WOLF: “Why
music theater?” is the question we asked ourselves
as soon as we wanted to start this program at Princeton. And we are excited that
we can have this kind of expansive vision in a place because we’re small, we’re
very undergraduate focused, we’re completely collaborative
in everything we do. Wherever the student
is coming from in terms of the art, that can lead. So the theater, the text can
lead, the music can lead, the composition can lead,
or the dance can lead. And we are supportive
of any of those balances among these different forms. We don’t have an agenda in
terms of what music theater creation can mean at Princeton. We are excited to see where
students are coming from and how we can help
them as artists and as scholars
to make new stuff. I’m Stacy Wolf. I’m a professor in
the program in theater at the Lewis Center for the
Arts at Princeton University, and I’m the director of
Princeton’s new Program in Music Theater. WESLEY CORNWELL: Princeton for
me is this great combination of the academic side and then
the creative side with faculty that are really there to support
you every step of the way, from visual research
to scene breakdowns to technical drawings
or costume sketches through tech all the
way to the performance. OGE UDE: The school has been
incredibly supportive in terms of just giving me the funding
to get where I want to go. I know exactly
what I want to do. And oftentimes, it lives
outside of what is available. And I think Princeton has been
really supportive of getting me to that very
specific, niche place that I have said that I’m
very passionate about. JULIA PEIPERl: I have
had this guidance that has helped me to
radically increase the quality of my
work, or at least the quality of my research
and the foundations that are going into my work. And that’s because
of the classes that I’ve gotten to take. STACY WOLF: And we very
much pride ourselves on balancing scholarly
pursuits and artistic pursuits, performance and creation. All of our students are scholar-
artists and artist-scholars. We do not see the difference
between making scholarship and making art. WESLEY CORNWELL: And you
have an incredible diversity of academic backgrounds
all being brought into the same classroom
for the same project, asking the same questions. And that diversity of
academic thoughts, I think yields so many more
interesting results. The combination of intellectual
rigor and creativity is really astonishing
and something I’ve found immensely rewarding. STACY WOLF: We’ve had
directors, designers, critics, musical directors. And they come to class and
talk about what they’ve done, how they’ve made their careers. They engage with the students. And because we’re so
close to New York, it’s very easy for them
to hop on the train and come and spend
an afternoon with us. And to have access to
artists in that way is absolutely
unique and amazing. DEAN MOSS: What I
like about students, and Princeton students in
particular, is their openness. They come from a wide range
of academic experience that they bring to the
art-making process. And it’s their love of making
art that forces this to happen. And I have been excited
by that engagement and what they
bring to the table. BILLY COHEN: The resources
are obviously crazy, but what I like about it
is the professors take a genuine interest in
each and every student, no matter what
their background is or what they plan on doing
with theater or musical theater in the future. They really focus on bringing
to life what each student is capable of doing every day. STACY WOLF: This program very
specifically is music theater, so it does include
the Broadway musical. It also includes opera. We have a very strong opera
program here as well as what we think of as more
avant garde music theater, different ways that music
theater, dance, text and performance
all come together to make an entirely
new hybrid form. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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