Author

Will Peters

Date of Award

1996

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Leadership Studies

Abstract

As our world races toward the twenty-first century, the demand for capable leaders has risen dramatically. Our new environment, saturated with futuristic technology, rapid change, and ethical failure is bellowing for a new type of guidance, one that will successfully match the needs of a new frontier. This fresh leadership will have many of its important roots within the dynamic realm of the arts. No other medium has the ability to maintain such a visceral connection with the public at large, nor the capacity to furnish such a vivid personal awareness and compassion for our fellow humans. Theater, in particular, allows the artist to understand and empathize with human behavior first hand. On the stage, through the- convincing transformation of self into character, the actor advocates cultural and moral standards that provide audiences with new visions and deeper self-realizations. "I know of no better, more involving way to learn about yourself, and about the phenomenon of being alive, than acting." (Barton, 1989). The most talented actors have the captivating ability to lead audiences towards a greater development of society, thought, and selfhood.

The overall quality of leadership as we embark into the brave new world of the twenty-first century is going to rely on our approach to the training of leaders. At every level in our society, be it at the level of the family, the schools, the community, the government, or the world, we are going to need empathetic leaders who are capable of rising to the unknown challenges of a new environment. Implicit within this new horizon of leadership is the leader's ability to explore unfamiliar territory and establish cohesive relationships in the midst of chaos, order, and angst. This is what the theater does. Through the art of characterization, the actress explores foreign concepts and finds a creative way to bring them to a level of balanced comprehension between herself and her audience. Via the strength of her imagination and the help of her director, she breaks through the walls of conventionality and creates a powerful communion that brings her audience cente1 stage In so doing, the audience suspends their disbelief and together, for that one moment in time, actress and audience walk on an empathetic journey towards mutual understanding.

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