Faculty on Writing
Assistant Professor: Paul Truckey
Interviewed By: Stefan Mittelbrunn
Department: Performing Arts
Date: September 20, 2006
Paul Truckey, an assistant professor in the Department of Performing Arts, had a great deal of insight about the writing world. This is Professor Truckey’s fourth year teaching at Northern Michigan University. Usually Professor Truckey teaches Introduction to Theater, which is an overview course designed to introduce students to the world of professional theater. He also teaches Acting One, which is a performance based class for those interested in acting. In addition, Professor Truckey also teaches Modern Drama, an in-depth class focusing on detailed analysis of numerous plays.
In all three classes, Professor Truckey does assign written assignments. By having students write, even in a class like Acting One, students have the opportunity to show the ability to formulate ideas and opinions in a cohesive and readable manner. Paul receives written assignments from students from the entire spectrum of writing ability. He feels there are deficiencies in some and powerful insight in others. When Paul is evaluating writing from a student, he focuses on seeing a connection of the student to their personal life. He also looks for some kind of emotional bias opinion based on what the student sees in a given play. Some student writing that Professor Truckey encounters carries meaningful content but lacks proper grammar and yet other writing will demonstrate competent grammar ability but lacks self expression on the page. Ironically, there is a general tendency for performing arts students to show great expression on the stage but lack that expression in writing. The reasons for this trend are unknown and this issue of expression is, of course, not true in every case.
Paul has a great respect for people that can make it as professional writers. This is especially true for playwrights, without whom performance art would be difficult at best. Paul engages in memo writing and other usual technical writing as is typical of being a professor at Northern. He has written in the past, but finds little time for it now with all the commitments that come with teaching and directing.
In the past, Paul has worked for his father-in-law, analyzing a play that he had written. Basically, Paul edited the play looking at the flow and pacing. He focused on lines of dialogue that were redundant and unsupportive of the main objective of the play.
The more a person writes, the better that person can be in writing is how Professor Truckey feels about writing in general. Some people can have a completely different personality when they write as opposed to who they are in person and Paul finds that aspect fascinating. Paul had a very personal reason to write in his past with getting to know his father. He felt that he got to know his father much better through writing rather than through conversation. When something is written, it is concrete and allows for detailed explanation.
Admittedly, Professor Truckey hasn’t sent his students to the Writing Center. The surprising outcome of this interview is that after speaking with Paul, I feel that he wasn’t sufficiently informed as to what the Writing Center handles. His perception is that the Writing Center caters mainly to English students and that there is a limited amount of writing in his class so it might not be highly beneficial to send students in. I informed him that the writing center receives much more than English students and it came as a revelation to him. The main point that I made is that the Writing Center tutors assist with organizing content as well as grammar checking. With the additional information I was able to provide, I hope that Professor Paul Truckey sends students to the Writing Center for assistance with play analysis or any other type of writing assignment that he gives to his students.