January 21, 2006

Sabinson vs. Dartmouth

As reported by The Review, theater prof Mara Sabinson is bringing a discrimination suit against Dartmouth: "Dartmouth College, through a group of their officers, has taken action... which constitutes harassment and discrimination against her on the basis of her age, her gender, and her religion and further constitutes a breach of her contract of employment."

I do not know enough about Sabinson to make any sort of call about this, but I have done a bit of searching around on the SA Guide and the D archives to see what I can find. Here are some items (none particularly interesting) for your perusal:
  • The D, 2002, "Profs. interact across departments": "[Sabinson] said, '[eighteen years ago], our students weren't as 'professional.' Now there is a hyperintensification of professionalism between students and faculty. It is more bureaucratized.' Sabinson also commented on the campus' use of BlitzMail. 'Everybody emails everybody. That has depersonalized us'"
  • The D, 2002, "Faculty, staff lack parking": Sabinson strongly protests the administration's effort to allot parking to the Hanover Inn, stating that the necessity of parking somewhere else will pose a safety concern for profs walking out late.
  • The D, 2002, "Innovation and Uninhibited Expression Paramount to Theater at Dartmouth": "Sabinson embraces experimentation and change saying, "Sometimes when you say no -- that's when people say, 'To hell with you,' and take action." Some people will work together, some will work against each other, but either way the representation of a class or a generation continues to be found on a stage, or maybe staged in the woods."
  • The D, 1995, "Teaching, researching and managing: Dept. chairs": Sabinson complains about the prevalence of email again.
  • The D, 1996, "'Mother Courage' production lacks cohesion of original": Sabinson's performance as Mother Courage is strongly criticized by the D's reviewer. Sabinson, and the play, were later defended by another student.
  • The D, 1996, "Learn to Listen": This op-ed is a sort of defense of the practice of casting faculty members in the leads for college productions, and deals specifically with Professor Sabinson and Mother Courage.
  • The D, 1995, "Soules returns to College": Soules, a Broadway actress, praises Sabinson as "one of the best directors I have ever worked with. Mara worked in professional theater, so she has an idea about what it's really like."
  • Class reviews, Acting II, 2005W: "The class is painfully slow, Mara rarely participates in the warmup work or any exercise, and she expects everyone to know what to do before she gives instructions. She is brutally honest, which I admire, but in this setting she ruthlessly stifles creativity. She loves to hear herself talk and simple explanations turn into hour long discussions. During scene work, she helpful with blocking and things of those sorts; she would make a good director, but sucks as a teacher of acting. For those who are dabbling in theater: seriously quesiton if you want to do this course on a whim - it may save you many painfully boring hours. Nice enough person, probably a good director, but terrible acting prof."
  • Class review, Theater 30, 2004X: "Prof can be harsh but is really effective." [From another student"] "Mara...really made it quite stressful to be in class with. She was one of those profs who makes you nervous just to ask a question because she isn't happy that you didn't already know the answer - and considering how subjective the grading system is for acting 1... it's not good to get on her 'bad side'."

1 comment:

  1. The Dartmouth theatre department is a plagued one, on the brink of disaster. There are only 4 majors in the 2006 class--it is a department that still very much suffers from Sabinson's wake of terror...

    I'm not exaggerating.

    She was granted tenure in 1991, one of four theatre professors. How qualified are those tenured professors?

    Margaret Spicer is a costume designer that hasn't worked in the actual theatre world since she arrived at Dartmouth either in the 80s or 70s (I couldn't find a record of this, so I'm just repeating what I've heard). She has no professional connection to the actual world of theatre, she lives in a fantasy costume-drama and is dead weight. She nearly had an orgasm at the Globe when she saw the costumes for Romeo and Juliet. She doesn't even go to New York often to see shows; she doesn't keep herself fresh.

    Dan Katlowitz: he's a nice man. but he's a lighting designer and is tenured and was director of theatre.

    None of these people have academic backgrounds, they're all technical. First and foremost, the Theatre at Dartmouth is an academic study, or at least, should be. But it has been relegated to the technic with it's tenured professors--and this is why the department has a HORRIBLE reputation among other theatre departments of reputable schools--because it has abandoned it's liberal arts roots.

    And then comes Peter Hackett, a Dartmouth alum that was artistic director of the Cleveland Play House. He left the Play House in debt and was criticized for being too mainstream. His dream is to produce all the plays of J.M. Barrie...you know, the guy who wrote Peter Pan...among other disasters such as Dear Brutus. He arrived at Dartmouth last year, received Tenure, and is now director of theatre.

    Her tenure was a mistake...to say the least. She has ruined many students, polarizes the already polarized faculty and is the least professional of the faculty. I've over heard alums speak of ill of her, even Hanover community members.

    I wish I could explain more right now, I need to speak of Dean Grenoble and how there's another professor that needs to be "purged" from Dartmouth: Silvia Spitta. If I finish my work, and if people are interested, I will comment further.

    Disclosure: I left Dartmouth because of its theatre department (among other reasons) and am now at another Ivy.

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