Rich Brown of WWU Theatre & Dance – Washington Professor of the Year


My name is Rich Brown. I teach physical acting
and devising – which is collaboratively created new work – here at Western Washington University.
In devising, a group of theatre artists will get together and they will collaboratively
work together to create everything – the script, the movement, the music, the design, you name
it. We participate in the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival that’s run
out of the Kennedy Center in D.C. – and part of that is you have a respondent come from
another university who has nothing to do with your students or your show, and give you feedback
on your work. And that year “US” received three national awards. Then in 2013, we created
another devised piece called “Soapbox.” Again, we had a respondent, and decided to enter
it to participate and it also got selected to go to the regional theatre festival. And
then, just last year, we created the show “/faust”. We created a narrative about this character named “Felix” who
was a contemporary film maker who suddenly got some recognition at a couple of film festivals
– like South by Southwest, that kind of thing, and then suddenly, of course, his ambition
takes him on a Faustian journey. He likes to lead you toward where you want to go but
not force you to find the answer. You have to find the answer – but he knows exactly
what to do to get you to find it. And something that I really love about RIch’s work is that
he’s very much a proponent of trying, and allowing yourself to go on whatever journey
you’re going on. It doesn’t matter if one actor is doing everything a certain way – and
it may look like they’re doing it perfectly – he’s going like “follow yourself – you need
to honor the things that are going on in your life, so that you can make your own discoveries.”
He’s just a delight to be around, and I’m really thankful that we get to have him here.
Carnegie Foundation, every year, recognizes four national Professors of the Year for the
United States, and possibly a state winner. First, it’s completely humbling to win an
award like this, to meet all these other professors of the year from different states when we
were in D.C., but really to think about how I was simply a representation of all the amazing
teaching that happens at Western every day. Western as a whole does a really great job
of giving you a little bit of everything to make you a more well-rounded individual. I’ve
never seen so many people trying to work hard because – “oh! that person’s working hard
and I want to be there for them.” We’ve had students who’ve left Western and they’ve gone
off and received MFA’s from prestigious amazing programs we’ve had students who leave here
and perform on Broadway, but what I tell my students all the time is, if you leave this
acting class, and your acting is a little better, great. But we’re really interested
in, is we’re training our humanity. To watch students the moment when they say “ok, I’m
going to let this part of myself be seen” – when they let down that next block, in a
way it’s subversive. It’s like a tiny quiet revolution.

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