Foundation Award for Teaching

Kurt Heinlein

Dr. Kurt Heinlein

Theatre and Dance
College of Arts and Letters

I. Philosophy of Teaching

A theatre performance student is preparing for a rigorous profession that demands diversity of talent, experience, exceptional training, a solid emotional foundation, and an articulate work ethic.  It is my belief that a theatre educator’s adherence to the following tenant’s helps best prepare the student for those professional demands.

1. Goal Setting 

It is the theatre educator’s responsibility to assist students in discovering, developing, implementing, and meeting, individual short and long-term educational and professional goals.

2. Active Listening and the Creation of a Give and Take Educational Relationship          

It is the educator’s responsibility to create a positive classroom environment that opens two-way doors of communication. An honest and mutually respective relationship between teacher and student will meet any challenge that arises in the classroom.

3. Utilization of Varying Methodologies in Order to Meet Individual Needs

The educator must be sensitive to individual needs and have the personal resources available to respond accordingly. A teacher must have training and experience in a variety of methods, and inhabit an ability to utilize the approach that will meet individual needs.

4. Approaching Actor Training in a Fashion that is not Psychologically Intrusive

Actor training need not be psychologically intrusive to be effective. Furthermore, I feel that psychologically intrusive approaches are more harmful to honest acting than they are helpful. I believe in adherence to approaches that promote a positive outlook and emotional well-being.

5. Working from the Positive    

Work from the core strengths a student already possesses, and build upward. It will result in a student/practitioner who is trusting, confident, secure, and who will then be prepared to attack performance problems without the intrusion of restricting self-awareness.

6. Continued Professional Development/ Educational Excellence

A teacher must maintain a commitment to the continuation of their own educational development, which means playing an active role in the professional industry and engaging in educational resources that enhance their teaching skills.

7. Raise up Others

The profession is highly competitive. It puts very our sense of self-worth to the test every day. It is vital that students are taught to lift each other up. It is the responsibility of the educator to set this example. By learning to “raise up others,” students will place more value in their own self-worth, become community-minded, and correspondingly, increase their potential for success and long-term happiness in the profession.

8. Lead by Example

As university educators, it is easy to forget that we serve as role models to our students. Student eyes are always upon us in search of lessons to relate to their own lives, both professional and personal. It falls upon the educator to consistently lead by example.

II. Example of Courses/Topics

  • Acting I
  • Acting III, Scene Study
  • Stage Combat/Violence for State and Screen
  • Acting/Auditioning for the Camera
  • Advanced Movement
  • Senior Acting Project- Los Angeles Acting Showcase
  • Green Theatre

III. Future Projects

  • Play Development, Belizaire the Cajun (an adaptation from the novel by Glen Pitre)
  • Book, Auditioning for University Acting and Musical Theatre Training Programs
  • Continued Program Development, Coordinator of MSU’s BFA Acting Program
  • Contracted Acting Projects (SAG-AFTRA, Actors Equity Association)
  • Contracted Stunt/Stunt Coord. Projects (SAG-AFTRA, Actors Equity Association)
  • Continued Development/Publication, Neutral Body Technique (Personally developed approach to actor training)
  • Interdisciplinary Teaching Initiatives (Dept. of T&D & Dept. of MJF)

IV. Topics related to teaching and of interest to the University Community, for which you are available for presentations and/or consultations (e.g., presentation tools, special topics, technology, public affairs).

  • Integration of public affairs into the classroom.
  • Team and trust building.
  • Developing interdisciplinary research and teaching initiatives.
  • Integration of research with teaching development.