Brander Matthews was one of the purist theatrical geniuses we’ve had in, and around, the intellectual American Stage.  Brander rightly believed a play only existed in performance and that the performance and the text must be evaluated separately. He was also one of the first professors at an American University — Columbia University in the City of New York starting in 1892 — to promote, and foster, the idea that Dramatic Literature was just as important a field of study as any historic cave wall painting or artistic sculpture or aesthetic structure. He believed in the power of the Playwright to form the world.

One semester, I was teaching a Dramatic Literature course at a major public university on the East Coast, when I was approached by four women after the first session.

The four walked up to me and one of them told me they were Muslim and that I had to guarantee them no man would touch them during class.

I was stopped for a moment by their request.  When I looked up from my desk, I saw they were all dressed in traditional Eastern clothing and their heads were covered and they were deadly serious.

“We thought this was a literature class,” one of them said.

“It is,” I replied.