Dear class of 2020,
What does it mean to study theater in college? In his Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, published for the first time in 1550, Giorgio Vasari tells the story of Michelangelo’s most beautiful statue. Piero de’ Medici, the ruler of Florence asked the sculptor to make in his courtyard a statue of snow. Of course, the statue vanished without a trace. It survives only as the memory of something fleeting, unrepeatable, fragile, and unique.
This is the story of theater, the only art form that is not reproducible, the only art form that is made from the immaterial substance of our dreams. If life exists, theater exists. If theater didn’t exist, then life wouldn’t exist, either.
Here, in its transitory and brief identity, resides theater’s particular strength, to express complex truths with visual and verbal clarity. At Colgate, in our Theater Department, we teach theater by making theater. The lesson of theater is not a theoretical one but a human idea of theater, which is a poetic art, the art of equilibrium, the metaphor of our life. Because, in the end, you are the transitory substance from which theater is made–you and your sense of adventure, your imagination, your curiosity, your hunger for knowledge. What we, our teachers offer in return, is dialog in creative conduit and our desire to explore and reimagine great works of art as mirrors for your generation.
Professor and Chair, Department of Theater