My friends think that I’m an unconventional candidate for an MA housed in a business school. I don’t blame them for being skeptical. My only explanation to them is that I’m trying to get to the Bottom of things: it’s just not the bottom that you might expect.
I’ve spent thirteen of the last sixteen years in college. My English BA from a liberal arts school led me to a Masters degree in Shakespeare & Performance. That work convinced me to pursue a PhD in Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies. With every step into academia, I felt my life-path solidifying. I would write books and wear tweed: decades of young people would judge my increasingly dated pop culture references. These are not the ambitions of a person attending business school.
If my academic history makes me seem like a strange business school candidate, my classical acting career makes folks downright dubious about my place in such a program. People imagine business school as being populated be serious people. Serious people—the argument goes—don’t draw their paychecks by donning tights on July evenings to perform four-hundred-year old poetry.
Serious entrepreneurs do not play the lute.
Except that they do. You just have to get to the Bottom of things.
A past professor of mine at the American Shakespeare Center jokingly referred to people who want desperately to do everything as the “Bottoms” of the world. He meant the term as a complimentary reference to the famous character in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream who wants to play every part in his company’s play. Like Bottom’s desperation to play the lead actor, his own love interest, a lion, and even the moon, artists in the MA-ACE program want not only to make art, but also to be a part of every part of that art.
The Bolz Center is full of people who balance their own artistic practices with an appreciation of business-derived practices and sensibilities. The 2021-2022 cohort is no exception. We are painters and musicians, dancers and designers. The cohort is full of people who want their work to involve doing more elements of what they love—or, more accurately—people who want their work to involve improving every part of the work that they love.
It has been a joy to collaborate with so many people from different artistic backgrounds and to learn why they choose to dedicate a year of their lives to an intensive Arts and Creative Enterprise degree. I’m not sure what my colleagues tell their friends about their reasons for joining the program, but I hope that it involves some version of their own desires to get to the Bottom of things.