Making the Grade
College Faculty Recognized for Excellence
David J. Kaye
What’s the perfect antidote to a ho-hum life? A life in the theatre, of course! David Kaye’s days as a theatre associate professor are fast-paced and varied—frenetic enough for him to avoid getting bored easily, a classic Gemini trait he readily admits to possessing.
Since 1996, Kaye has been teaching acting, directing, and playwriting at UNH, and practicing all three professionally. On any given day, he may get his hands dirty painting sets, be shut up in his office doing historical research, guide a student through a character’s emotional journey, and a dozen other disparate activities. Theatre requires mind, body, and soul. How could it be boring?
That total engagement is what Kaye encourages in his students. He’s proudest when his students step up to the challenge of being artists and throws themselves into their work completely.
“It takes courage to be an artist,” says Kaye. “In the theatre, you always have to accept that failure can mean a good dose of public humiliation. I get excited in a production, capstone, or any instance when a student puts her or himself out there.”
Students accept the challenge and recognize its value. What comes through in their testimony about Kaye’s teaching is that his lessons in the classroom are really lessons about life. One student sums up the sentiment: “He taught me things this semester that will forever change the way I approach performing and even everyday life.”
Kaye’s work runs the gamut from musicals to Greek tragedy, but he has a particular interest in theatre as a tool for social justice and as an interdisciplinary medium. Kaye helped create Wild Acts, a UNH student theatre troupe dedicated to social justice theater. Working with colleagues at Keene State College and Plymouth State University, he spearheaded a joint production of a Greek trilogy, each school producing one play, an effort that took two years of planning and involved over one hundred students. He is now heading up the Theatre Department’s new “Ideas in Action” program, establishing creative partnerships across campus to utilize theatre and theatre techniques as a teaching and training tool.
Watch a video portrait of David J. Kaye.
Recently, Kaye worked with a generous donor to create “Cultural Stages: The Woodward Drama and Dance Initiative,” a program that includes both an international playwright in residence program and an international playwriting competition and prize.
Currently Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, Kaye can now add academic administration to his varied list of daily activities. Ho-hum? Not a chance.
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