Theater: Communicating Art, Not Self

Angela Richart

“All the world’s a stage and the men and women are merely players.” And the world is indeed a stage to the Theater Department at Northeast Community College. In the eyes of Adam Peterson, NECC Theater Director, Theater is first and foremost an art form before it is entertainment.

“I feel like an audience should walk away from a show being either emotionally effected by the show or it changes them in some way, changes the way they think or look at the world,” Peterson said.

Along with directors from Norfolk Community Theater, the group puts on at least four shows a year, giving students a chance work with different people and take on new opportunities.

Peterson talks about how students challenge themselves with every production they work with, but yet it’s not about the independent players themselves. “Theater isn’t about the individual, I’d like to say communicate art, not self”

His acting and directing classes are a combination of on-stage instruction and classroom work and involve a lot of discussions about theater. This year his classes are touring local grade schools and putting on skits of The Mouse and the Motorcycle. These are to help kick off their “Nine Schools, One Book” program and get the kids excited to read the book.

However, Peterson is more than just a college instructor; he is also a well-traveled individual.  Despite the fact that he grew up in Norfolk, Nebraska and attended Northeast Community College, he has visited a number of countries world-wide.

While searching for a graduate school, he found that it was cheaper to go overseas than New York City or Chicago. He ended up receiving his MFA in Theater Directing through the University of Essex in England. While there, he also was an exchange student to Indonesia, Bali and even studied at the Russian Academy of Fine Arts in Moscow.

He has had amazing experiences in Morocco and the Sahara Dessert, but for an intellectual and historical adventure, he recommends the Netherlands.  However, his definition of paradise is Bali. There on the island is where he learned how to hand carve wood masks from a master, while living in a rainforest environment.

Though his world experiences have opened his eyes to new and strange things, he realizes that people around the world have more in common that you’d think. “Every time I’m in a foreign country I’m always seeing similarities. You know, everyone likes to think that people are so different. We’re just the same everywhere in the world. It’s just people trying to make their way, live their life,” Peterson states. The most bizarre thing he has yet to see are the street brawls in England, a place where disputes are still often settled with fists.

His world travels aren’t merely for vacation, either. Each one is a learning experience that makes him not only a better person, but a better teacher as well. “It allows me to talk about why things are the way they are in different areas of the world. I can help my students find that understanding that’s needed instead of jumping to judgment.”

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