Tag: Theater

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.

The Hunger Games from a College Perspective

The Hunger Games from a College Perspective

(from this site.)

This will be a quick post, but I just had to share a thought that occurred to me: pretty much everything you experience during your 4 years at college will be influenced by the fact that you are in college. You are in a unique environment with a very specific subset of people.

Nothing made that more apparent to me than watching “The Hunger Games” with a few friends at a crowded theater last night. There is a theater near Loyola called  the New 400 Theater. In any event, it is a pretty fun place to watch movies because of the largely collegiate atmosphere in the theater.

During the movie there were many moments during which the entire audience cracked up when it was obviously not the filmmaker’s intention for us to do so. It just happened to be the result of a perfect combination of maturity and immaturity in the audience that allowed us to be mature enough to see humor in things that may not have been intended to be so, but immature enough yet to still laugh out loud at them.

Oftentimes 1-2 people would laugh and then the whole theater would follow up by laughing at/with them. At them for being immature enough to laugh at some jokes, with them because, let’s be honest, we still thought they were funny too.

The point I’m making is that seeing everything through a college lens is unavoidable, but nonetheless enjoyable. I know it would have been a very different experience watching the movie in a teen pop crowd than it was with almost entirely college students.

Watch the movie too; you’ll love it.

Mundelein Auditorium Construction

Mundelein Auditorium Construction

Typically I do not have much to complain about, but the writing of this blog was timed just after a phone call from the head of Housekeeping at Loyola.

He needs legs to support some platforms that he is setting up in the Information Commons. He called me to ask if I knew where they were, since he and I both do a lot of work with those platforms and legs.

Here is a look into how this phone call came to be:

Until recently all the extra equipment for events has been stored in the backstage area of Mundelein Auditorium, where I work and where the Department of Fine and Performing Arts holds its large ensemble rehearsals. This all changed when the construction crews that are doing the “ReImagine” campaign needed to use the backstage area to work on ceiling above the auditorium for some Mundelein renovations.

Everything has been moved to various locations- locations about which I have not been informed. Now I have to send out requests every time I need to have another platform or some legs or railings or anything else I may need that used to be easily accessible for classes backstage. In addition, there is a fake wall up where the curtain to the backstage area used to be, and the side entrances remain locked except for hardhat access.

From what I understand- which admittedly is not much- the Facilities department seems to be in charge of relocating and storing this equipment. But problems arise because departments are not used to having to collaborate so much just go get simple tasks done.

Facilities knows where things are, but when I make requests they dispatch the Grounds crew to move them. Grounds crew’s job isn’t to keep track of everything, so they often do not know where things are- and I do not have the contact information for anybody on Grounds crew.

Housekeeping does a lot of the physical setups for events around campus, but they do not get informed when Facilities directs Grounds to move equipment.

So this resulted in me having to talk to Housekeeping in the middle of my mid-afternoon nap(!) explaining that I do not know where the legs are, and I do not know who he can turn to for answers. I feel bad, but I guess problems like this are what happen when you have such massive construction plans.

Supposedly this will all be over in 1 semester. When I graduate.

I know, my life is hard.

Still, I am tempered by the fact that I enjoy frequent use of the Information Commons that was constructed through the inconvenience of those who came before me. I guess we all have sacrifices to make. I hope he gets his legs.

Loyola Theater: My Exclusive Experience

Loyola Theater: My Exclusive Experience

This week I had the unexpected delight of being invited to a rehearsal of one of my good friends’ girlfriend’s directing scenes. She is a Theater major and a Senior, so I believe she is required to direct a scene for her class.

It was a pretty cool opportunity, and I was glad for it because I had been working in the IC (Information Commons/Library) all day and needed a break. I was told that it would only last a half an hour, so it seemed like the perfect study break to me.

I went into the room and met with 2 other mutual friends (I myself had brought along my study partner of the day.) The director told us where to sit and spread us out around the actors as if we were in a thrust stage. The point was just that the actors needed to practice performing the scene in front of an audience, so our job was to just be a set of warm bodies to act towards.

The scene itself was pretty awesome. They ran through it once and I was really impressed by the power it packed in under 15 minutes. There was some really funny moments and some really deeply disturbing moments. The second time they ran through it I got even more out of it.

But to me the real value was getting to see this little subculture of Loyola’s Theater Major. So rarely do I realize how many other things are going on all the time. Had I not been invited to this exclusive viewing I wouldn’t have realized that all over the place in classrooms at night are small groups of students meeting to work on their scenes. This has been going on since my Freshman year and I had no idea. It makes me wonder what else is out there that I still haven’t heard of.