The theatre is unlike any other place in the world – it is a place of magic, mystery, excitement, humor, and emotion. It is also a place where social, cultural, and political hot button issues are explored and exposed. It is a place where one’s creative potential is limited only by one’s imagination. It is in this world, then, that I, as a theatre educator, make my home.
My role as a theatre educator is one of collaborator, communicator, and a partner in discovery. I believe that one never stops learning, and as I teach my students, I learn from them as well. I believe that a theatre educator must be confident in his knowledge and abilities, but flexible and honest enough with himself to accept change and to continually grow and evolve. It is in this dynamic interplay between teacher and student, where ideas, insights, imagination, and revelation occur, that theatre education exists for me. I am also a firm believer in an educator’s responsibility to listen to, learn from, and assist their peers. Just as there is collaboration between student and teacher, so there should be collaboration between colleagues. Such a symbiotic relationship between colleagues can only serve to make me a stronger teacher in the classroom, the voice studio, and on the stage.
I believe that it is my role as a theatre educator to provide my students with the tools, both technical and creative, to fully explore and embrace this wonderful, magical place. I continually strive to imbue my students with a reverence for the history of the theatre, as well as plant in them the seed of discovery that propels them to seek new styles, new methods, and new avenues of exploration in the world of the theatre.
Sample Instructional Materials
History of the American Musical (THEA 435) is a required course for all students pursuing the B.F.A. in Musical Theatre. This is a traditional lecture course with the following description:
a comprehensive yet accessible exploration of the landmark concepts, productions, creative artists, performers, and socio-cultural impacts of the American Musical Theatre. Everything from ragtime to rock and roll, ballet to hip-hop, and Disney to American Idol have influenced, or been influenced by, American Musical Theatre. This course is ideal for students of all majors, particularly those majoring in theatre or music, with an interest in expanding their knowledge and discrimination of this uniquely American art form.
Second, third, and fourth year students in the Musical Theatre Specialization are required to complete two semesters of studio voice each year. In addition to weekly lessons, these students perform in regular salons throughout the semester, and explore character development and musical elements through written assignments. This Musical Theatre Song Analysis serves as a tool to help students focus their work.
Students in both Class Voice and Studio Voice are required to complete 10-12 lessons each semester as part of the B.F.A. in Musical Theatre. These students, in addition to a few others, make for a full schedule each week. This is an example of my weekly lesson schedule from Spring 2015.
Endorsements of Teaching...
"I just want to thank you for your help in voice lessons this last year because I have to nail a high C everyday, multiple times, while dancing. And I'm doing it, full voice and everything! So, I just wanted to let you know that I am very grateful to you for your awesome help..."
Cody Strand, USD Class of 2012
"Matt, these guys I'm working with asked me how I sing those high notes in "Light of the World" in Godspell. I told them about Lessac and our curriculum and they had no idea. I just wanted to text you to say thank you cause I can do things these dudes can't, and healthily and consistently."
Steve Schaeffer, USD Class of 2015
"I love to work with Matt as a director! He gives a lot of helpful pictures and different ways to feel an emotion or create a story of a character."
Magdalena Gassner, IPAI 2015
"Professor Nesmith is a masterful teacher of voice who clearly emphasizes relaxation, tonal quality, freeing the voice, and acting the song."
Former Chair, USD Theatre
"The New York Showcase gave me the preparation, knowledge, and where-with-all to step foot in New York and jump right into the fray without missing a beat, giving me a level of professionalism missing in many direct-from-college actors."
Lucas Ptacek, USD Class of 2015
"Before I only thought Lessac was only diction and speech work, but now I know that its application is so much more. I really want to thank you for teaching me."
Prayer Wanitnart, IPAI 2015
Ebrin Stanley Testimonial
Musical Theatre at USD, Class of 2017
Emily Vortherms Testimonial
B.F.A. in Musical Theatre at USD, Class of 2015
Christine Pietz Testimonial
B.F.A. in Musical Theatre at USD, Class of 2015