March 21, 2007

Buck Becomes a Baylor Bear

In June of this year, I’ll be packing up my family and moving to Waco, TX to become a graduate assistant at Baylor University.

I have been pretty quiet about what the future holds for me because I know some of my students read this blog and I didn’t want to be announcing my departure before it was a sure thing. Which explains why my blog has been somewhat sparse lately. There was little I wanted to talk about more than this, so I didn’t talk about anything (in the blog-o-sphere at least).

A Dry Heart-ini – Stirred not Shaken
Ever since last October, I’ve been considering what the next step for me is. What I considered a vocational setback made me do some re-evaluating of where I was and where I was heading. Well, after some thinking and discussing I began looking into graduate school options.

Sniffing Out Baylor
It became pretty clear pretty quickly that I wanted an MFA in Directing or in Theatre Arts. And I wanted it from a Christian university. Point of clarity: it’s not that I believe I couldn’t get a good education at a secular school. It’s simply that my calling is to “bring the Church to a greater understanding of their God as the First and Greatest artist through excellence in the theatre arts.”

Someone asked me if I thought an MFA would help me reach the church because the Church doesn’t really care about degrees (especially in the arts). And this is accurate. But the truth is, and this may sound a bit cliché, but I want to go to school to learn. I’ve done lots with the knowledge I have, but I feel I’ve hit a bit of a glass ceiling in my understanding of my own art. Ultimately, it’s the “through excellence in the theatre arts” part that’s sending me back to school.

So… when it came to finding Christian schools with graduate programs, there were a whopping two options. Baylor or a school that had the unappealing aroma of Pat Robertson wafting through it’s halls.

God, the Patient Doorman
It’s funny. Last year, I went to a play writing symposium that was spectacular, but in many ways felt like a dead end to my vocational goals. My play was not picked up by any producers. And yet, the person I got closest to there was a guy named Chris Hansen, who happened to be an associate professor of film at Baylor. He turned me on to their grad program, dropped a note to the theatre department head in my favor, let me stay with him when I went for an interview and has already begun helping me search for a home. I’m reminded how often I think God is sending me off alone into the unknown when, in fact, He’s already gone ahead and prepared the way. Who else would stand there so long holding the door open for me?

That’s the biggest one, but it turns out one of the other showcased playwrights at that symposium has recently taken on a faculty position in the theatre department at Baylor. In addition, I discovered another one of the showcased playwrights (there were only five) was a graduate of the exact program to which I was applying. She was very helpful in giving me insight into what the faculty interviewers would be looking for in the play analysis I was assigned.

Finally, and this was just like a cherry on top, when we announced the fact that I was applying to Baylor, one of the faculty members here at Pine Castle told us that she graduated college with someone at Baylor, and in fact, she sang at his wedding. She said she wasn’t sure of his exact title, but she knew he was in Theatre at Baylor and his name was Stan Denman… Stan Denman is the Chairman of the Theatre Department. When I arrived for the interview, Dr. Denman shook my hand and said, “I just read an e-mail about you from an old friend.”

Thanks, for holding the door, Lord.

The Call
On February 2nd, I was the first of Baylor's interviews to fill the two spots they had for assistants. It went very well, as far as I could tell, and touring the facilities and meeting the people made me even hungrier to be there. After six of the longest weeks of my life I received a call on Monday the 19th of March. The faculty was unanimous in their selection of me. (I'm trying quite unsuccessfully to not let that go to my head. It's funny - I had prepared myself to not read rejection as a measure of my worth, but I made no preparations in the other direction.) :)

The Program
I will be getting my Masters of Fine Arts in Directing. As an Assistant, I will be doing some slave labor, some teaching, some assistant directing duties in exchange for a full tuition waiver and a small stipend.

An MFA is different from an MA. A Masters of Arts in Theatre would be more focused on the theories and classical texts. An MFA is a more hands-on, experiential degree. It is a three year program and the MFA is considered a terminal degree. Which means its considered the highest degree in my field of study.

I am more than just a little bit excited by the prospect of becoming a student again. To study under these professors is about as good as it gets for an aspiring director. Their facilities are fantastic, the undergrads I’ll be working with are extremely talented and committed.

There is apparently a late summer session that will kick off my grad studies. Which means we will be moving sometime in mid-late June. And we will be putting our house on the market within the next few weeks.

Well, those are the gory details. I wanted to have the whole affair down somewhere because I forget which parts I have told to whom. We covet your prayers as we must sell our first home, look for work for Courtney and new home. And, of course, the host of other considerations which will pop up along the way.


J. Grant Dys said...


Facing a time of transition myself, I can truly, utterly understand where you are right now and where you have come from. Perhaps it is "where you've been" that I can understand more than "where you're going" or even "where you are." Regardless, I applaud you for your introspection and ready acknowledgement of God's calling on your life. You have done well not to bull down doors that are unopened, but have patiently waited until the "Doorman" opened the easy one. Your testimony of God's Providence is dynamic and I rejoice in the Lord with you.

Now, the only problem I foresee is that there will now be a Buck and a Hansen within a few square miles of each other. That's like putting TNT within inches of an open flame! I hope you two are able to burn the world for Christ.

We'll be praying for you in your transition, Mr. Moon. Of course there will be minor hurdles to overcome, but should we doubt that the God who clearly orchestrated your path thus far will not so direct in the near future? I think not. God eats impossible for breakfast and washes it down with a tall glass of unbelievable!

Gayle and Rob said...

Dan, I didn't see you in chruch this morning and I finally finished my grad course work for this semester so I have time to catch up on blogs ---this one was fantastic!! I'm sad you're leaving CCPC but I'm excited for this wonderful opportunity for you. I don't know who your friend is that wrote the first comment --do you think they would mind if I quoted that last line? Or is a quote from someone else that I'm not recognizing?

Stephen Nettles said...

We are realy going to miss you Mr. Buck. You and Mrs. Card were the two that inspired me to stay in theater. If it wasn't for that I would just be another athlete with no other real hobbies. It's hard for me to watch both of you leave in the same year. When I found out, I cried for what must have been a school. I got plenty of strange looks that day. I'm happy for you that you finally get to move on to bigger, greater things. I just wish I could have performed in one of your plays. I hope that someday you will be involved in major film and theater; God could really use you there. Please pray for me. I am still dealing with the athletics vs. theater conflict. I know what I need to do but it's realy tough to follow through. I would like to talk to you at school sometime. Good luck in whatever you do. God bless you Mr. Buck