Applied theatre is community theatre with a focus on drama education. That means taking theatre out of the conventional theatre space and into prisons, homeless shelters, nursing homes, and schools. Anderson University alumna Alicia Bush, a 2009 graduate, recently brought what she learned from AU to London, where she is enrolled in an MA program in applied theatre.
“Theatre has a way of connecting any community through emotion, communication, and through the sharing of similar circumstances,” Bush said. “Creating and sharing a part of yourself with another human being has a powerful way of healing and nurturing someone who otherwise feels broken and alone.”
Holding this view is what inspired Bush to pursue graduate studies at one of the most prestigious theatre schools in London.
With a passion for acting, Bush held a few acting jobs upon graduating. However, it was her internship with the Indiana Repertory Theatre that ignited her passion and talent for teaching, directing, and facilitating.
Bush worked with the IRT’s youth conservatory on the technical track, which allowed middle and high school students to learn how to develop their own craft from the IRT’s designers, directors, and playwrights. At the end of the conservatory, the students showcased the work they did, the plays they wrote, and the sets, props, and costumes they designed.
“The most inspiring part of the finished product, for me, was not hearing the words they wrote acted out by IRT actors, but them knowing that as young artists they hold the power to stir emotion and evoke change.” Bush said. “This sparked the ‘teacher’ in me.”
More opportunities opened up for Bush as she directed for AU’s Wisdom Tooth Theatre Project and worked at Shawnee Summer Theatre in Bloomington, Ind., for two summers, as head of their children’s theatre program.
Bush said, “It was these experiences, of encouraging the art out of people who are skeptical or unfamiliar with referring to themselves as artists that led me to pursue my MA in applied theatre.”
Having traveled to London previously with Tri-S, Bush decided there was no better place to study than in the theatre capital of the world. She had an interview in New York with representatives from University of London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, and was offered a place in the program.
Bush said the strength of the AU theatre program worked in her favor. “My performance-based theatre background from AU sets me apart from a large number of the students who had only studied theatre education as an undergraduate,” she said.
— Corinne Schmitt is a senior from Geneva, Ill., majoring in communication arts. Schmitt is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.