September 13, 2010

Letter to the Editor: The Value of the Schwartz

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To the Editor:

Re: “In Wake of Cuts, Performing Arts Face Upheaval From Within, Faculty Say” News, Sept. 9

My time at Cornell can only be accurately described as a double life. I woke up very early every morning and headed into lab or to my desk to do work prior to attending the classes that I took for my chemistry major. Then, after rushing home to work for several hours, I spent four hours of my evening, six evenings a week, at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, rehearsing for the numerous shows I participated in while at Cornell.The Schwartz was a safe haven, a release from the scientific rigor with which I spent my days exploring chemistry; it allowed me to explore a more emotionally connected space. That is not to say that I approached theater with any less of an academic perspective. The key to both theater and science is keen observation, and from those observations assembling a body of knowledge from which to make leaps and bounds to create something new. I believe that my diligence in both fields was complimentary and aided in my ability to succeed in both.Indeed, the caliber of the technical staff and the RPTAs, to say nothing of the directors, allowed for the theatrical production to be the core of the acting curriculum. By allowing students the opportunity to gain experience in what is essentially regional theater, the Schwartz Center provided the key part of the acting curriculum that was absent in the coursework. Although I did take several classes in the Theater, Film and Dance Department, the area in which I grew the most were the performances.I cannot imagine my life at Cornell without the rich experiences that I had while performing at the Schwartz Center. The ability to grow at a professional level in two drastically different disciplines was something that I had hoped for when choosing Cornell, a place in which “any person can find instruction in any study.” I will never regret that choice and I hope that future Cornellians will receive the same opportunity.

Ashley M. Adams ’08