Dominican Alumnus and Instructor, Robert F. Bradford, has always been a writer – freelance journalism, video scripts and newsletters for non-profit organizations, songs for his bands – but his “creative writing” always seemed to him to be a bit superficial.
“I asked myself, ‘How does one add depth to one’s writing?’” he recalls. “Well, perhaps you study the Humanities, and get a handle on the great themes.”
With that in mind, he enrolled in Dominican University of California’s Humanities Major in the Pathways Program for Working Adults at the age of 53, and immersed himself in philosophy, history, art and literature. It was in Carlos Rodriguez’s Creative Writing class that he turned a corner.
“Carlos gave me a little formula, a recipe, that I had always known but never articulated,” says Bradford. “It was the Five C’s – character, conflict, complication, climax and change. Every single piece I wrote in that class has since been published.”
In three years, Bradford had a B.A. in Humanities (summa cum laude), an Academic Scholar Award, and a scholarship for Dominican’s Humanities Master of Arts Program. He also had a new and golden opportunity.
“I met Dr. Annette Lust, who produces the Fringe of Marin Festival of One-Acts. She said, ‘I’ve heard of you. I want a script from you, right away, in my hand!’” Bradford still shakes his head in astonishment. “Do you know how hard it is to get a play produced? This was a clear example of the value of a small university, where you can build a little reputation and have amazing opportunities that just wouldn’t be available anywhere else.”
Bradford’s first two plays each won a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for Best Play in the Fringe of Marin Festival. Since then, his work has been produced by Construct Theatre Company on W. 14th Street in New York, and locally at College of Marin, Café Amsterdam and with the Petaluma Arts Council, as well as printed in Mused (Bella Online). His stories have appeared in Bohème Magazine, SoMa Literary Review, Long Story Short and Slow Trains Literary Journal.
For his Graduate Humanities Culminating Project, Bradford wrote, produced, directed and performed The Death of King David, a full-length one-man play in iambic pentameter. “I learned a lot from that one,” he says, “on a lot of levels.”
Once he had his M.A. in Humanities with a Writing Concentration, Dominican hired him to teach Critical Inquiry and Reflective Writing, wherein returning students write essays on their life and work experiences, to petition for credit for Prior Learning Assessment.
“When I took that class a few years ago, I got 18 units from five different departments,” says Bradford, “so I guess they thought I knew the trick. When I didn’t mess up teaching that class, they also gave me the Thursday night Freshman English class that nobody else wanted. That’s an even bigger challenge, but I keep learning. That’s all making me a better writer, too.”