About Ontogenetica

Welcome to this blog. It was my first blog and spans the time June 9th 2007 untill the end of 2011. If you want to check out my current work I’ve moved it to janherder.weebly.com

I have a close kinship for Greek philosphy. Though the experience I have with it is somewhat unconventional. Oddly it was my first Theater Professor at Windham College in Putney in the 70’s that awoke me to the fact that reality was not what it seemed. Joe Greenhoe kept refering to going Greek. So ontos is being and genetica refers to creation. The creation of being who we are–put another way, creating yourself, which we do at every moment, though hardly aware of it. And very rarely intentionally.

At the time I was a philosophy major and buried myself in Greek history. I would spend hours in the theater, hiding from security, and fantasizing on the stage. Which brings us back to the creation of being. Empty, dark space. Now, 34 years later, I present the apparent paradox to my Technical Theater students that the stage at Dibden Center is actually more ‘real’ than any of the other environments on campus.

In my evolving pedagogy I have returned to the idea of ‘going Greek.’ It is a way of knowing something that seemed at the time to offer itself as a no going back proposition. Joe said that if someone went Greek they would be considered mad in our present world. Mystifying to a college freshman, it was an intriguing concept that now makes complete sense. The idea was reinforced by other professors at Connecticut College, where I found myself after Windham closed my sophmore year in 1975. But what does this have to do with technical theater?

Simply put: Visualization. Bringing imagination to life. The stage is the perfect medium for this. I found myself somehow at the facilitating end of the business. I learned through the proverbial school of hard knocks–experiencing, doing, enabling, facilitating for 12 years before I found myself back in academia. Seamlessly I continued this process as a “technical director,” though now surrounded by young and inquiring minds. Another ten years passed when I felt the continued dispairty between the value assigned to traditional class time, and the value of what was occurring with my students in the so-called extra-curricular time preparing the stage for events.
The student’s contributions were not recognized, so in 2000 I created the Associates in Technical Theater degree.
In contradistinction to the prevailing academic trends dissecting and separating Freshman, Sophomores, disciplines, departments, ideas—I saw community being created. Connections and integration occurred naturally. It was a mash up. As a learning community it was transformed.

One Response

  1. Jan… Man… I new you were deep, but Wow! It seems I went through the program at the wrong time and through the wrong degree. What I wouldn’t give to be involved in this process again. I love what you’ve done, what you’ve become, and what you are helping other achieve. You are the man!

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