Shakespeare

December 4, 1998

You may have heard of the professor at Arizona State University who was fired for teaching offensive, outrageous plays that other faculty would not even allow in the classroom. So what were these dangerous plays? None other than the works of William Shakespeare. By now I guess you can see that I'm being facetious. Unfortunately, the university was dead serious.

Jared Sakren got into a lot of trouble for teaching Shakespeare. He is a former director of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and was hired by ASU in 1994 to establish a nationally respected actor training program. He is a Julliard graduate and former faculty member at Yale University. He has turned out scores of famous Hollywood actors, such as Val Kilmer and Annette Bening.

His method was to have students work with classic plays: Aeschylus, Ibsen, and Shakespeare. Learning how to act in great works of literature would hone their acting abilities, he believed. And the students thrived under the program.

One problem: teaching Shakespeare is not politically correct. The department chose not to renew his contract because, according to the department chairman, "the feminists are offended by the selection of works from a sexist European canon that is approached traditionally."

To put this in context, while Professor Sakren was having his students perform A Midsummer Night's Dream, his colleagues were having their students put on plays like Betty the Yeti, an "eco-fable" about an evil logger who transforms into an environmentalist after having sex with a Sasquatch. Now there's a play destined to last for the ages, but I'm being facetious again.

Professor Sakren deserved better, and will no doubt find another opportunity. Sadly though, his treatment at ASU is but one more example of the campus thought police losing their perspective and common sense.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.

© 1998 Probe Ministries International