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How I Learned to Look Away From the Monitor

arts education

by David Wiener

“Do some stretches at least once an hour.” “Don’t get locked into staring at the screen.” “Look away from the screen every half hour or so.” Very good advice from occupational health-care professionals. The question is, what do you do while you’re looking away? I started looking around - and what I saw were plenty of arts and theatre programs running into plenty of money trouble, resulting in plenty of cutting back and cutting down. The reasons for these money troubles are many and various and they aren’t likely to change any time soon. I decided to leave the debates and fist-fights to the accountants and the politicians and just concentrate on what I could do to help while the shouting goes on (and on). What I found was “educational voluntarism;” in my case, offering my services as a lecturer in theatre, writing, and related subjects. It definitely requires an investment in time, effort, and research - but the experience is well worth it. Basically, you create a multi-media monologue on a specific topic tailored to a particular age group. The youngest group I’ve lectured to was a combined class of advanced theatre students at Valhalla High School in El Cajon, California; the oldest would probably be late-career professionals at the Lipinsky Institute at San Diego State University. I’ve also donated lectures to UC Irvine and the Osher Institute at UCSD (the next one is scheduled for February 2012). The wide variety of arts-volunteer activity going on all over this County is recognized each year by the San Diego Performing Arts League with their SDPAL Star Awards. Scores of people have received this award over the past two decades, which says a lot about volunteer involvement with the local arts (I received a Star Award in 2010 for my education and outreach work with the San Diego Shakespeare Society). As a supplementary activity to playwrighting, I’d have to say that lecturing is one of the healthiest ways to “look away from the monitor.” It also provides help where it’s badly needed - and will almost certainly be needed for some time to come.

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ArtsNFashion Magazine Winter Issue 2011  

The arts can be an extraordinary vehicle for education and multi-cultural understanding, as well as a source of beauty and inspiration. Cove...