“They accused me of bein’ a homosexual”: Playing Kerry Cook in The Exonerated
A few weeks into my fi rst college theatre class, the instructor made a statement that I found shocking. She said, “Actors shouldn’t be too smart.” My best friend Jessica (now a theatre historian) and I exchanged glances of amazement. While I do believe that in the moment of performing the focus must be on doing, I also believe that the process of preparing for and researching a role should involve a certain amount of rigor and study. Unfortunately, my experiences in two separate MFA acting programs reveal a devaluing of both the intellectual life of the actor and his or her personal convictions. Instructors in certain programs feel that they are preparing the student-actor for a career in which they will work at the whim of producers and directors who are the real creative forces in the theatre. This conviction sometimes plays out in domination and even abuse.