Mike Daisey: 02/01/2019
Someone I’ve taught before is upset with my position on MFA programs here. The theory that I’m equating professors with Bernie Madoff is baseless–I am discussing an institutionalized system, not just a full case of individual fraud. I was speaking about it as a Ponzi scheme because it is requiring future generations (and larger and larger tuitions) to pay directly into keep carefully the present system afloat.
Ponzi techniques are illegal because they are created in bad faith, and are unsustainable in the long term-I’m floating the probability that the existing system shares some of these issues. a yr for three years 40K, which is without interest or incidentals on the loans it should take. If anyone who reads this knows where there are some studies of theater MFA program costs nationwide, post or email me.
I’m specifically worried about theater training MFAs, and what impact that system is having on the theatrical ecosystem. I don’t believe the writing MFA system is terribly relevant, as the connection between what you’re taught and exactly how it could be found in direct practice is very different than theater-someone else with more experience can talk with that relationship. I’m also not talking about the efficacy or lack thereof in these programs, nor am I discussing if they make “clones” of the performers or anything of that sort. There are great programs and awful programs I am sure–I am only specifically concerned, in these arguments, with the result that high tuition is having on theatrical training.
There’s no slander–it is up to each professor to understand the tuition their organization charges, and understand their role in that functional system. In the case of theater I believe a solid case can be made that the huge footprint of these MFA theater programs is saddling young artists with crushing debt that weakens the continuing future of the proper execution. I’ve experienced some fantastic educators in my own life, and I love teaching myself. That doesn’t absolve me or anyone else of the responsibility to call out a damaged system because of its problems.
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