Teaching Leadership Through J-Term Theater Class


Ethics_Theater_Class_2010-01-11.jpgDarden School of Business Professor R. Edward Freeman again this year successfully transformed Darden MBA students into actors and directors to teach lessons about leadership through the theater.

During the final 36 hours of his one-week January term class “Leadership and Performance,” 24 students - six women and 18 men - wrote, cast, produced and performed an original stage play titled, “Till Death Do Us Part.”

The play included 14 scenes focused upon death, marriage and relationships. The live performance took place at Darden’s Abbott Center Auditorium on January 8.

After the hour-long performance, which received several ovations, Freeman introduced Darden visiting lecturer, Randy Strawderman, who has directed theater on the local and national stage and worked with the Darden actors. Then FreemanEthics_Theater_Class_2_2010-01-11.jpg suggested that the audience ask questions, taking the actors by surprise.

The students commented on what they had learned through the team effort and described a “messy process at the beginning.” To pull the show together in such a short time, the students had to hone their acting skills by learning how to react comfortably to their classmates, shape many great ideas into one production and determine one theme after 17 initial themes were proposed. One student said, “We started as a group and ended as a company.”

Freeman praised the student actors, saying, “Yesterday there was nothing. You don’t think of the incredible, creative side of MBAs. The students worked unbelievably hard to create this play.” Freeman also thanked the audience for being there, saying, “We’ve got the best students, the best staff and the best community around.”

Founded in 1955, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business is a professional school that works to improve society by developing leaders in the world of practical affairs.

For questions or information, contact communication@darden.virginia.edu.

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