Continuing a convocation series titled “Unexpected Collaborators: The Geniuses Among Us,” Professor of Theater Arts and the J. Thomas and the Julie Esch Hurvis Professor of Theatre and Drama Timothy X. Troy ‘85, the fourth speaker of the series, spoke at the Convocation in Memorial Chapel April 5.
Troy discussed and encouraged innovation as a function of collaboration. He emphasized the idea that no genius has ever worked independently, but has built on the work of his predecessors and those that surround him.
The convocation program complimented Troy’s ideas of collaboration, beginning with music provided by Lecture of Music and University Organist Kathrine Handford and conservatory students Alex Rolfe and Tristan Renfrow. Following was a reading of Marilyn L. Taylor’s poem, “The Geniuses Among Us.” The gathering culminated in Troy’s talk discussing collaboration and ended with a performance of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “Sometime During Eternity” by a Jazz Poetry Quartet including Professor of Music Dane Richeson, Dean of the Conservatory of Music Brian Pertl, Associate Professor of Music Mark Urness and Troy.
Troy’s ideas of collaboration are rooted in his theater background — he worked as a stage director, predominantly in Chicago and Milwaukee, in the time between graduate school at the University of Iowa and his position at Lawrence — where collaboration between actors, crew and countless others was essential for success. Explained Troy, “In some ways I tried to offer insights by doing a lot of collaboration in my own area of expertise, hoping to generalize generally so that other people can benefit from it.”
Troy’s key piece of advice was that “no one owns ideas. Everything we get, we’re getting from people around us — from our teachers, our families, our cultures. And when you’re working with people, the more people try to stake out corners or stake out territory around those issues, the less real interactions can happen.”
Of particular interest to Troy were examples of collaborative innovation. He said, in regards to the inclusion of the Jazz Poetry Quartet, “The reason I included that was to show an act of collaboration happening, that it wasn’t just something we could talk about, but here’s what it looks like.”
In addition, Troy noted interdisciplinary collaboration on campus, specifically the Freshman Studies program and the Entrepreneurship Initiative on campus. Concerning Freshman Studies, Troy remarked, “It’s an example of doing the thing we’re asking our students to do… You put a physicist in the room who’s teaching Shakespeare, you put a theater person in the room who’s teaching Einstein… students are randomly gathered and randomly assigned, and it’s in that mix that some of the best habits for good inquiry come about.”