DiscoverChange Lab: Conversations on Transformation and Creativity43 Occidental College President Harry Elam on finding a roadmap for systemic change in revolutionary theater movements
43 Occidental College President Harry Elam on finding a roadmap for systemic change in revolutionary theater movements

43 Occidental College President Harry Elam on finding a roadmap for systemic change in revolutionary theater movements

Update: 2021-03-03
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Harry Elam and Lorne had only met casually before we sat down to record this episode of Change Lab. Interestingly, they had spent much of their early careers as two ships passing in the San Francisco Bay. Harry pursued his PhD in theater at U.C. Berkeley while Lorne earned the same degree at Stanford. They then traded places and Harry became a theater professor at Stanford and Lorne took a faculty position in Berkeley’s Dramatic Art department. 

Their mirrored movements continue to this day. With Harry’s recent appointment as president of Occidental College, they now both serve as college presidents for venerable institutions located just a few miles apart in Northeast Los Angeles.

This past year, maybe more than any other, has called upon them to draw on skills they developed in the theater. They’ve had to improvise and lean into the unfolding drama, responding to challenges with ‘yes and’ rather than ‘no but.’ 

Harry has written several books and scores of journal articles on how theater has become a vehicle for social change. He and Lorne discussed how those movements might even serve as a model for progress within the very institutions they both lead. Their conversation shed light on the importance of communal spirit—not unlike that of a theater company—in forging the path ahead. 

But, in the end, they were just two theater guys connecting around their shared belief in the power of creativity and education as well as in our conviction that, above all else, the show must go on.

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43 Occidental College President Harry Elam on finding a roadmap for systemic change in revolutionary theater movements

43 Occidental College President Harry Elam on finding a roadmap for systemic change in revolutionary theater movements

ArtCenter College of Design, hosted by ArtCenter President Lorne M. Buchman