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Kenneth Macgowan '11, motion picture producer, author, and founder of the Theater Arts Department at UCLA, urged yesterday that the University establish a field of concentration in Theatre.
Delivering the Theodore Spencer Memorial Lecture, Macgowan said that students must be taught to feel as well as think," and that the theatre is a good way to attain this end. He stressed that "theatre in its broadest sense has the happy advantage of providing a wide cultural base."
Macgowan added that the theatrical arts emphasize a creative form of artistic intelligence de-emphasized in the normal college curriculum. He insisted that this "creative power must be set free if life in this democracy is to attain the highest degree of happiness."
Macgowan pointed out that Harvard is one of the few leading universities without a major in theatre. He said that the present unrecognized status of theatre works to the disadvantage not only of a student's dramatic efforts but of his other courses as well. He cited himself as an example of a student who nearly did not graduate because of the time spent on the theatre.
Chapman Questions Plan
Robert H. Chapman, assistant professor of English, said last night that the proposal to establish a theatrical field of concentration at Harvard "should be considered in detail." He continued that "while in some ways it would be highly desirable to set professional standards of theatre at Harvard, in other ways it might not fit into the liberal arts curriculum."
Macgowan also advocated building a new theatre at the University. He suggested that it might be wise to build a small experimental auditorium seating one or two hundred persons before preceding to build a larger one.
In the first part of his speech Macgowan discussed the achievements of Harvard graduates in the theatrical world and their attempt to encourage the teaching of theatre at the University.
He considered the work of George Pierce Baker at Harvard an important landmark in the educational teaching of theatre. "It is safe to say," he insisted, "that the first impulse of the great expansion of teaching of theatre in the last thirty years came from Baker at Harvard." Among the prominent playwrights who studied under Baker were Eugene O'Neill and Robert Sherwood.
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