We Love Our Grads: Josh Grisetti ’21, MFA, Performance Pedagogy

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“I would never have been ready to teach effectively in higher education without the support of the LMU performance pedagogy program…this program allowed and encouraged me to act, direct, and teach elsewhere in tandem with my studies.”

With graduation upon us, we spoke to some of CFA’s talented #LMU21 graduates as they gear up to leave LMU and take on the world. In our We Love Our Grads series, we asked a graduating student from each of our departments to reflect on their time here, as well as share their plans for the future.

Josh Grisetti ’21
Program: Performance Pedagogy (M.F.A.)
Career Goals: Professor of theatre

How did you come to the decision to get your MFA in Performance Pedagogy?

I had been a professional actor for nearly 20 years in New York and Los Angeles, with major credits on television, Broadway, etc., and I had always wanted to teach theatre at the college level. I knew that I needed an MFA to do that, but another degree in acting felt really uninteresting to me. Finding a program in performance pedagogy was a diamond in the rough; it offered me exactly what I needed — a means of articulating and sharpening the knowledge I already had in the field — teaching me how to teach.

Why did you pick LMU?

LMU offered a program explicitly for mid-career professionals. That appealed to me a lot. Most MFA programs demand your full, unrelenting attention. This program allowed and encouraged me to act, direct, and teach elsewhere in tandem with my studies. That sold me.

What did you do prior to beginning the program? 

I was an actor in New York, working mostly on Broadway and off-Broadway plays and musicals, with some TV work, regional gigs, commercials, films, concerts, and voiceovers thrown in. 

Did you have a particular experience that led you to that path?

I started out as the class clown who could sing a little. I eventually realized that people could make their living doing that. So I trained and kept hammering away at it until I found myself in Los Angeles beginning to teach it to the next generation. 

What are your post-graduation plans? Tell us a little about your career goals and aspirations.

I’ve been offered a job as assistant professor of musical theatre at Cal State Fullerton, just outside Los Angeles. As an actor who wants to stay active in the field, I was really only searching for academic work in New York or Los Angeles, so this is truly a dream job scenario. Ideally, I’d teach and direct at the college level while juggling smaller supporting roles on television, film, and commercials. Maybe someday I’ll take a sabbatical back to Broadway for a season, but ya know…Broadway ain’t got this warm California sun! So we’ll see.

How do you feel your experience at LMU prepared you for this next step?

I would never have been ready to teach effectively in higher education without the support of the LMU performance pedagogy program. Full stop. And I say that as someone who has headlined Broadway shows and network television series. Teaching is a whole different game. I had no idea what the expectations were of full-time professors. There is a vernacular and a skillset and a culture ingrained in the academic world that you don’t need to be aware of as a student, but must be as a faculty member — LMU prepared me for all of that. 

What does it mean to you to be the first graduate of this program?

Well, they haven’t explicitly said it yet, but I assume it’s only a matter of time before my statue is unveiled in or around the theatre arts building. I also assume the only reason the parade was canceled was due to an abundance of caution regarding the pandemic. Nonetheless, it’s an honor to be the first graduate of the freshly minted program. They say you always remember your first. Here’s hoping. 

What is your favorite thing about LMU?

My favorite thing about LMU is standing on the bluff at sunset, looking out over Los Angeles. I’ll miss that. 

What advice do you have for students just starting the program?

Ask every question. Create your own opportunities. Collaborate with the faculty, they are eager to collaborate with you. And take the conference presentations seriously (thanks, Arnab!) — if you can knock out one or two of those while you’re still in grad school, it really does help get your academic career started. Break a leg!