Taking the Stage–Roman Style

Taking the Stage–Roman Style

Well, at least taking a stage that happens to be in Rome.

This semester a class of about 20 JFRC students (including myself) have decided to “take the stage” and learn a thing or two about the world of theater. Beginning Acting is taught by professor Eric Nicholson who is no stranger to the drama department and is thankfully sharing his wisdom with us. So far we’re a few masks short of a Commedie dell’Arte troupe, but with mid-term monologue performances underway I see some casting calls in our futures.

From 2-5 PM on Wednesdays our class meets in a conference room on campus. The first half of our time together looks pretty typical. We’re assigned readings weekly both from Audition by Shurtleff, which covers the “guideposts”of acting, and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream . After in depth class discussions on our reading material we break for about 20 minutes then reassemble for our not-so-typical half of class. This is when we get to put what we learn into practice via lots and lots of improv games.

The 1st time Professor Nicholson tried to talk us into these activities we were pretty hesitant, but the timidness wore off quickly. Sometimes I wonder what other people think when they walk past our classroom only to hear utter chaos coming from inside. Spontaneity is highly encouraged and always helps our “mini performances” turn out better. These games allow us to perform as all different kinds of characters, from high and mighty to meek and nervous–often times switching roles at the drop of a hat. Looking and feeling ridiculous probably means we’re doing it right.

And what would a theater class be without a performance or two? Though there was a small written portion to our mid-term exam, the majority of our grade will come from a monologue performance. We were all allowed to choose one or two monologues of our choice from a play, movie, musical, or even an SNL skit. Some of us have chosen to perform two monologues from differing genres, the other option being one monologue that’s a bit longer. I decided to go with a classic, comedic monologue–Viola’s monologue from Twelfth Night–and a contemporary, dramatic monologue–Sarah’s monologue from High and Uptight. My performance went well as far as I can tell and I was happy to have the chance to play two very different characters. I’m sure I couldn’t have pulled it off quite so well without the coaching of my professor and for that I am certainly grateful.

After our midterm performances come to an end our class won’t have seen the end of our time on the stage. Our final for the class is a performance of (you guessed it) A Midsummer Night’s Dream. If all goes according to plan we’ll get to perform in the courtyard of the JFRC during finals week for everyone to come watch. Our monologue performances have been impressive thus far so I’d bet that we’ll have a pretty successful show–especially if Professor Nicholson has anything to do with it.

So here’s to breaking some legs for the rest of the semester! …Or just having a good show.

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