New York Theater

Aug 2017

I watched McMath constantly talk down to students in a condescending way. She didn't even try to disguise it. The only time she would really act like she cared about you or your thoughts was when we went to a theatre and she wanted to impress the managers, directors, actors, etc. She gave absolutely no guidelines regarding the long reports we had to do on a theatre company or whatever, and most ended up putting hours into the assignments, while she probably took 5 minutes grading them. Overall, she thinks she's the shit, so skip her and take new york theatre with any one else.

May 2015

Linda Bartholomai's personality is awfully abrasive and aloof. It was really uncomfortable to have her as a facilitator in class discussion in particular conversations about race, class, sexuality and other social identities. Though she particularly said at the beginning of class, I can only accept 30 out of 70 people in the room and I take into consideration diversity.... In class discussions, she was actually quite racist. She presented herself as THE authoritative judgment call on the plays we watched instead of allowing for disagreement in class, saying things like: "Nooooo I really don't think that was the playwright's intention." "I didn't think the stereotypically gay character was offensive." It all culminated in a conversation about race-specific vs color-blind casting, which became a cringing experience when two black girls in the class were forced to go against the the class and teacher's opinion. Her feedback on papers was minimal and often dismissive. I didn't feel like I was getting better at my theater reviews or more astute at watching theater. Grades were pretty arbitrary. I never knew why I got a 90 or a 95. In fact I got 90s and 95s on every single play review, 90 on the midterm and then got an 85 on the final and somehow that became a B+... Her selection of plays was ok though we could have been spared the awful children's theater at the beginning. All that said, she seems like she is just like every other jaded working theater professional who honestly doesn't get paid enough to do this but like wow...

Apr 2010

Either the last reviewer strongly hated McMath's class from the beginning and everything was colored by that hatred, or McMath significantly altered the class this term. Either way, here my side of the story: McMath does really like the avant-garde, and she does explore it in slightly more depth than other things. After all, she is the producing director of an avant-garde theater company (Gertrude Stein as idol). That said, so far we have only seen one avant-garde production--and it wasn't even as strange as I was expecting it to be. Mostly we have seen off-Broadway productions. It's also important to recognize that the productions change from year to year with funding, availability, ticket prices, etc. There is a lot of reading. However, the only time we had to read a book in its entirety that had to be bought at the bookstore was 500 pages, divided between two weeks. The 400-page-book-per-week idea is absurd; maybe that happened last time this class was offered, but I doubt you would ever face that now. Additionally, the reading IS, in fact, important: the midterm expects you to understand all the concepts from all the readings as well as important years, figures, names, trends...Do the reading, even if you just skim it once in a while (some of it is quite dry). Some of what's important in the reading is discussed in class, but it's not a guarantee, and you may not be able to take notes fast enough to catch it all; basically, do the reading and your grade will thank you for it. McMath does not critique the response papers like an English professor, per se. I doubt that grammar or syntax or a five-paragraph structure or anything like that matters much to her (if McMath was to grade me for this review she wouldn't take into account this run-on sentence). If she sees truth in the ideas you put forth and you occasionally use what you learn in class in the papers, you will get a good grade; if you don't, you won't. McMath does spend a lot of time discussing the economics of NY Theater. If you want an art-requirement-fulfilling art class that is more focused on admiring or making art rather than analyzing its connections to other areas, this may not be the best class for you. Personally, the economic side of theater was very interesting to me and studying it helped me grasp larger trends in theater I would not have otherwise fully comprehended. There's one more thing to take into consideration as well that was not mentioned in the previous review. The class itself, in its basic design--lecture followed by performance somewhere in NYC--allows for a great amount of communication between students, and can even act as a way to easily make new friends. Think about it: you spend an hour on the subway getting to midtown or downtown to see something you've never heard of, all the while sharing the same feelings of hunger (no time to eat after lecture), then you spend more time after the production together, eating, chatting about the production, exploring the Village at 11:00 at night...In a way, the class is worth taking just because of its structure.

May 2009

Do not take this course! She is terrible! The idea of a class called NY Theater is wonderful, and I am sure that the other teacher's do a wonderful job teaching this course.... just not McMath! She focuses on all of the most boring topics of theater, spending class after class listing every person who works in the theater, how much their salary is, the economics behind the theater business. It is interesting to learn that it takes a lot for a production to be profitable, but when she spends the entire semester reiterating the same point with too much detail, it is boring, pointless, and beyond a waste of our time. My guess is that no one is taking this course to become a theater manager (which is what her passion is, so duh, of course she is constantly spending her time on it), and that mostly everyone is taking it for personal enjoyment. With a topic as broad as NY Theater, it is so sad that she wastes the entire semester not covering an ounce of interesting theater information. She is also full of herself. She believes that she is an English teacher, and corrects the weekly 2 page reviews with such incorrect scrutiny that it is pathetic. If she actually knew what she was talking about, I wouldn't have a problem... but the fact is that she doesn't, it is frustrating. How do you tell your teacher week after week that she is wrong? You just can't, it's not polite. Besides that, she assigned a book a week as our reading, and these books were on average over 400 pages. It was my mistake for immediately going out and purchasing over $150 worth of the required reading material, which then she never even discussed in class. Basically, don't even bother buying the books in the first place, the reading does not matter and is entirely a waste of your money and time if you try to read it. Finally, out of all the genres in theater that are available, McMath loves to teach and see what she wants, not what is beneficial for the class... so we ended up primarily seeing avant-garde theater. Going to see this type of play is definitely interesting and worthwhile, but should not be the focus of the class. NY is full of all different types of theater, and has world renowned musicals, yet we did not venture deeply into any other genre. The very last play that we saw was in a public school, with seats for around 20 people, and only filled with our class, and yes, this was avant-garde theater as well, and absolute torture. Just heed my advice... if you are thinking about taking NY Theater because it sounds interesting and fun, do take it, just do NOT take it with McMath. She's a bust of a teacher.

May 2001

Shawn, as she says to call her, is a new professor. She has good intentions, she wants to teach really challenging things like Brecht, while simultaneously cracking jokes all throughout lecture so that you can never pay attention. She and the other professor Katherine Profeta, no doubt in my mind, are both very intelligent people who thought that they could teach undergraduates, in one semester, everything that they had learned at a prestigious drama school which they attended together. Unfortunately, it doesn't and didn't happen. First all of the class has crazy time commitments associated with it that you cannot miss, unless you want your grade to suffer. Secondly, because the topic being studied, New York theater, is so diverse the course has no fluidity or continuity and the professors don't even attempt to fill in the gaps. While Shawn is all about incorportating large themes and quoting influential authors, Katherine sticks to details and is straightforward, though she always seems nervous when she is lecturing and likes chronological dates a lot. It's not that this class is really bad, it's just hard to get through a lot of the performances and the lectures, and get yelled at for being 3 minutes late when the professors sometimes show up ten minutes late, and take exams that cover next to nothing and be expected to create masterpiece essays with no background information. The packets they get made for you are relatively pointless-- you don't need to read them.