I have a lot of books that I brought home from school. For the past four years they sat on a bookshelf in my classroom. Every once in a while I would pull one off to check a reference or copy a picture for use in class. Most of the bigger books are textbooks from my college days. If you are a theater person you probably have the same books: Acting is Believing, Stage Make-up, Designing with Light, four different kinds of western theater books, several anthologies of plays both modern and classic, a book of Greek comedies and one of Greek tragedies, scripts coming out my wazoo, and a GIANT ASS book of plays from modern theater that was determined to be representative of the artform (seriously the thing could be used as a doorstop). Those are just the books I can think of off the top of my head.
I graduated from college in 1993. I have had the books for almost 20 years. When I got them, we were just starting to use computers to “word process” our papers for class. I still have some of those papers as well. I have had the books with me with every move and with every teaching job. (Man those boxes of books were damn heavy to move.)
They somehow gave credibility to my Theater Arts Degree. “Of course I am a Theater Artist, just look at all the theater books I have.” And when they sat on my shelf in the classroom, even though I rarely ever used them – it made it seem as if I had a wealth of knowledge (of course I do, because I read every single one of those books from cover to cover). It was nice to have them there. It was comforting.
This afternoon I had to sit down in my basement and go through all of the boxes of teaching materials that I brought home from school. It was about 10 boxes. There was some curriculum, some magazines, some handouts, work samples, decorative desk items and a lot of crap that I kept, because I didn’t know what to do with it. Then there were the books.
If you haven’t looked at the shipping limitations post yet – I only am allowed to bring (for the family) between 2000-3000 lbs. Those books are heavy, so I needed to narrow them down. It was hard. It took me a lot of time. The first problem is that I don’t exactly know what materials that they have at the school and the second problem is that I do not know what the exact curriculum is.
The final problem is that I just can’t seem to part with them. There is a sense that I will be giving up my identity as a learned theater artist if I have no books. Where is the evidence that I studied? Where is the physical representation of my intellectual toil? How will people see that I know things? About theater.
I had to just turn off my emotions. I had to come to the realization (as many of you probably have already done) that it is not the titles of the books that demonstrate your abilities in theater education – it is what I do and it is how I impact the lives of the students and the theater community. Through my actions and experience, not the overpriced textbooks with the yellow USED sticker across the lower binding. Whew! It took a while to get to there this afternoon.
So, realizing that most information can be gathered online these days. Logically comparing the cost of shipping the books to the benefit I would get from the occasional reference. Assuming that there are some materials at the school I can use. And taking a big leap of faith – I have narrowed the books down to the truly essential ones.
Don’t worry, the books that were cast aside will just go into storage. I am still not ready to make a final break. Besides that Western Theater book has a funny doodle of my theater history professor that my roommate and I made when we took the class (Sorry, Ole Dave – you know I love you).