Professionalism is one of those things that everyone agrees is absolutely indispensable in the theatre; yet, we don't teach a specific class in it, nor does it appear as such in the topic calendar of many, if any, course syllabi.

Everyone knows it when they see it, though. It has nothing to do with whether or not one in an actual professional , as in one who is paid for a service. It has nothing to do with unions, contracts, paychecks, academic degrees, age or experience. It has everything to do with conduct.

Professionalism implies reliability and responsibility. It means good will and genuine effort to give one's best to any project one commits to. To behave professionally in the theatre is to care more about the overall good of the show than about one's own comfort, convenience or applause. Professionalism does not imply a refusal or inability to question or criticize; but, it does mean that one refrains from insult, innuendo, back-stabbing or any other negative behavior or talk that serves to trash any individual in a company and, therefore, undermine the hard work of all and, ultimately, the quality of the theatrical experience for the audience.

On some basic level it implies a conscience.

It is said that it is impossible to legislate morality. Certainly, it is futile to try to create a Theatre Department policy regulating professionalism.

We all know it when we see it, though. And we all know it when we don't.

The professionalism of this department, then, depends on the commitment of each individual in it -- faculty, staff and student -- to behave according to a personal code of conduct that helps to enhance the experience of everyone else here and to uphold the ideals that brought us all together in the first place.

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