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End Of Scene Blog Entries
SATURDAY, DEC 7, 2013
Ken makes a scene about why he wrote LIFE ON PAPER
FRIDAY, JUN 7, 2013
[EXCERPTED REVIEW] Broadway World makes a scene about Warrior Class at the Alley Theatre.
FRIDAY, JUN 7, 2013
[REVIEW] The Houston Press makes a scene about Warrior Class at the Alley Theatre.
SUNDAY, FEB 3, 2013
Ken makes a scene about an upcoming reading at Ensemble Studio Theatre
FRIDAY, FEB 1, 2013
Ken makes a scene about joining Season Two of House Of Cards
SATURDAY, DEC 8, 2012
Ken makes a scene about a letter from Liz Engelman
THURSDAY, DEC 6, 2012
Ken makes a scene about "Red State Blue State" on This American Life
MONDAY, NOV 5, 2012
Ken makes a scene about a stage adaptation of Warrior Class for the BBC.
TUESDAY, OCT 16, 2012
Ken makes a scene about participating in Baltimore Center Stage's MY AMERICA PROJECT, directed by Hal Hartley
SUNDAY, JUL 29, 2012
Errol Louis makes a scene about Warrior Class on NY1's INSIDE CITY HALL
WEDNESDAY, JUL 25, 2012
Head critic for NYTimes makes a scene about Warrior Class on WQXR's Around Broadway.
TUESDAY, JUL 24, 2012
REVIEW: The Daily News makes a scene about Warrior Class
TUESDAY, JUL 24, 2012
REVIEW: The New York Times makes a scene about Warrior Class.
TUESDAY, JUL 24, 2012
REVIEW: Variety makes a scene about Warrior Class.
TUESDAY, JAN 24, 2012
Ken makes a scene about The Montgomery New's Review of FALLOW at People's Light and Theatre Company.
THURSDAY, JAN 19, 2012
Ken makes a scene about STAGE Magazine's review of FALLOW at People's Light and Theatre Company.
THURSDAY, DEC 1, 2011
Ken makes a scene about a remarkable piece of writing about the American theatre
TUESDAY, NOV 22, 2011
Ken makes a scene about a character's stage transformation
MONDAY, NOV 21, 2011
Ken makes a scene about WARRIOR CLASS online
TUESDAY, SEP 27, 2011
Ken makes a scene about the Asian American Performers Action Committee
MONDAY, SEP 26, 2011
Ken makes a scene about the fast work of SCR's casting department
FRIDAY, SEP 16, 2011
Ken makes a scene about Anne Garcia-Romero's post about LoNyLa
WEDNESDAY, JUL 6, 2011
Ken makes a scene about the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage's $150,000 grant to FALLOW
SUNDAY, JUN 19, 2011
A letter from Kaitlin Hopkins - Head of the Musical Theatre Program at Texas State
TUESDAY, FEB 15, 2011
Ken makes a scene about science plays.
WEDNESDAY, DEC 22, 2010
Ken makes a scene about Intelligence-Slave making the Houston Chronicles Top Theater Shows of 2010 list
TUESDAY, OCT 19, 2010
Ken makes a scene about intra out-group persecution.
WEDNESDAY, OCT 13, 2010
Ken makes a scene about why theater is not a humanity.
WEDNESDAY, OCT 6, 2010
Ken makes a scene about Athol Fugard's criticism about the failure of modern dramatists
MONDAY, JUL 26, 2010
Ken makes a scene about the diverse audience of Queens Theater in the Park
SUNDAY, JUN 6, 2010
Ken makes a scene about the Jewish Herald-Voice's profile of INTELLIGENCE-SLAVE
WEDNESDAY, JUN 2, 2010
Ken makes a scene about Lee Williams's review of Intelligence-Slave in the Houston Press
TUESDAY, JUN 1, 2010
Ken makes a scene about his Intelligence-Slave interview with culturemap.com
SATURDAY, MAY 29, 2010
Ken makes a scene about Everett Evans's review in the Houston Chronicle
TUESDAY, MAY 25, 2010
Ken makes a scene about sharing a collective spirituality in the theater
SUNDAY, MAY 23, 2010
Ken makes a scene about seeing the bird through the feathers
FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2010
Ken makes a scene about tech, letting go of the play and making discoveries in production
MONDAY, MAY 17, 2010
Ken makes a scene about INTELLIGENCE-SLAVE in the Houston Press
SUNDAY, MAY 16, 2010
Ken makes a scene about INTELLIGENCE-SLAVE in the Houston Chronicle
THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2010
Ken makes a scene for the Alley Theatre's Mark Bly
WEDNESDAY, APR 21, 2010
Ken makes a scene about being playwright 151 in Adam Szymkowicz's blog.
THURSDAY, APR 8, 2010
Ken makes a scene about changing the name of his play.
THURSDAY, MAR 18, 2010
Ken makes a scene about pundits and why Tom Hanks is "injecting" racism into World War II.
TUESDAY, MAR 16, 2010
Ken makes a scene about writing "winning" dialogue.
MONDAY, MAR 15, 2010
Ken makes a scene about agents and the ecology of show business.
SATURDAY, MAR 13, 2010
Ken makes a scene about the beauty of the theater actor
THURSDAY, DEC 17, 2009
Ken makes a scene about non-English language productions
TUESDAY, NOV 17, 2009
Ken makes a scene about reviewing business books for theater artists
WEDNESDAY, NOV 4, 2009
Ken makes a scene about THE BIG REWRITE!
TUESDAY, OCT 27, 2009
Ken makes a scene about the discovery of an algorithm for happiness (7ZJJBYD9U6PX)
THURSDAY, OCT 22, 2009
Ken makes a scene about Holocaust fiction as a literary genre
TUESDAY, OCT 13, 2009
Ken makes a scene about Asians who don't go to the theater.
MONDAY, OCT 5, 2009
Ken makes a scene about the challenge of bravery in the theater.
MONDAY, SEP 28, 2009
Ken makes a scene about the death of Tragedy and Comedy.
TUESDAY, SEP 22, 2009
Ken makes a scene about Dave Matthews's statement that racism is "everywhere" in America.
WEDNESDAY, SEP 16, 2009
Ken makes a scene about why playwrights need websites.
End of Scene Blog

Stanley Fish and the Crisis of the Humanities
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
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Yesterday, in the New York Times, Stanley Fish wrote an editorial entitled, The Crisis of the Humanities Officially Arrives and the article touched off a slew of despairing Facebook statuses from my pointy-headed social network.

According to Fish, the crisis of the humanities has "officially" arrived because SUNY Albany (the party-school of the State University of New York system) announced that it was cutting its French, Italian, classics, Russian and theater programs. His solution for this "crisis" is for senior academic administrators to "explain and defend the core enterprise [of the humanities] to those constituencies -- legislatures, boards of trustees, alumni, parents and others -- that have either let bad educational things happen or have actively connived in them." For good measure, he adds, "aggressively" explain. Sigh. This sounds like some kind of academic fantasy. "Oh, they simply don't understand because I haven't shouted enough. Let me shout louder."

"But, Ken, SUNY Albany cut its theater program! Isn't that a big problem?" you might ask. To that I would respond that it's sad that the students at SUNY Albany won't have a means to intensively study theater, but, theater is not a humanity. Theater-making is a specific craft that needs to be developed and the act of theater appreciation probably should not require academic knowledge of theater. I will say that one makes bad theater when one is under-educated in the humanities and that's the problem that I think Fish is really talking about. Because we have become a nation that puts so little value on "making" things, we are failing to appreciate the important role the humanities play in making good, valuable things. That is a problem.

Rather, than look at what's being cut from the humanities, I thought it might be interesting to see what people are studying instead of the humanities. Has the exodus from the humanities lead to greater achievement in the hard sciences? This doesn't seem to be the case. Some of these facts from the National Math and Science Initiative are telling:
  • In Business Week's ranking of the world's information-technology companies, only one of the top 10 is based in the U.S.
  • Nearly 60 percent of the patents filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office in the field of information technology originate in Asia.
  • The U.S. share of the world's leading-edge semi-conductor manufacturing capacity dropped from 36 percent to 11 percent in the past seven years.
  • Of the new R&D sites planned for construction in the next three years by 177 companies queried in a survey, 77 percent are to be built in China or India.
  • U.S. advanced math and physics students were not leading, but lagging behind other students around the world in math and physics achievement.
So, if people aren't studying the humanities and they aren't studying the hard sciences, what the Hell are they studying?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the highest number of bachelor's degrees that were conferred between 2007 and 2008 were in the fields of business. According to The Princeton Review the #1 college major is Business Administration and Management/Commerce. Math, physics, chemistry and history don't even crack the top ten.

Now clearly, something has truly gone awry with our national math abilities when a plurality of our students are going into business management. By definition, there can't be more leaders than followers in any given system. How can colleges devote so much class space to business? Well, we've made the system larger. We've created a generation of American "managers" whose workers make things in foreign countries. The consequence is that manufacturing is leaving the country and might not ever return. This is problematic because once you stop making things, you lose your nose for design; you lose your knowledge of what's preceded you; you lose your greater sense of connection to the world around you … you lose your need for the humanities and you start making garbage.

Steve Jobs is the CEO of what is currently the most valuable company in the world. People love the things he makes. Here is an excerpt of his speech to a graduating class at Stanford that has stuck with me:

"Thank you. I'm honored to be with you today for your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. Truth be told, I never graduated from college and this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first six months but then stayed around as a drop-in for another eighteen months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out? It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife, except that when I popped out, they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking, "We've got an unexpected baby boy. Do you want him?" They said, "Of course." My biological mother found out later that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would go to college.

This was the start in my life. And seventeen years later, I did go to college, but I naïvely chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and no idea of how college was going to help me figure it out, and here I was, spending all the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out, I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me and begin dropping in on the ones that looked far more interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms. I returned Coke bottles for the five-cent deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the seven miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example.

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer was beautifully hand-calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and sans-serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me, and we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts, and since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on that calligraphy class and personals computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college, but it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something--your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever--because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference."

Steve Jobs makes wonderful, valuable things and he does so by following the dots. The humanities give us dots to connect and it is a tragedy that these dots are playing an evermore limited role in the professional lives of future generations who are privileging management (#1 on the Princeton Review's top ten list) and communication (#8 on the Princeton Review's top ten list) over design and content. I disagree with Fish because the battleground does not seem to be perceived useful vs. perceived fanciful. Moreover, I don't believe that perceived fanciful should be forced upon anyone. The world changes, core humanities should change with it. The battleground, truly, is a society whose people make what they consume vs. a society whose people consume what they import. Instead of aggressively explaining why specific humanities like French and theater are important, we need to encourage people who make things. In so doing, the importance of knowing the world and the people around us will become evident.

end of scene
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