As I researched MBA programs I came across an article that highlighted the most innovative and original business school courses. In this article I learned about this class at Darden called Leadership and Theatre: Ethics, Innovation & Creativity. Not your typical B-school class, for certain, but it sounded interesting enough for me to remember it when I was choosing second year electives. I was also curious on how exactly I would learn about leadership in a theatre class.
I entered the class armed only with the official description of the course: The purpose of this course is to build leadership skills and ethical analysis skills by reading, discussing, and performing dramatic scenes from great plays. I had no idea what I was getting into…
The first day of class we discussed what each of us expected of the course. I clearly remember a classmate saying that he wanted to be pushed outside of his comfort zone. The Professor, Ed Freeman, told him he came to the right place. He wasn’t lying.
Through the next five weeks we did acting and writing exercises, presented short plays (calling them skits is absolutely forbidden in class) which were hilarious, and wrote, rehearsed, produced and performed a full-blown, eleven-act play which culminated with the first ever final dance which was a wild success despite my non-existing dancing abilities; a remarkable experience.
For me the greatest part was feeling the whole team of 18 actors working as a single unit. We really had each other’s backs and pushed each other to do our best. We worked through our collective writer’s block, broken glasses (you don’t want to know) and Q4 fatigue and managed to put on a successful production.
I will remember fondly a lot of things about Darden, and Theatre is certainly an experience that I will take with me for the rest of my life.
PS: Thank you, Ed and Randy.