REBOLLO BLOG FIVE:
Classes at CCCC and Quad C
Abstract: Visitation to Basic Theatre Practices, Lighting Design, Stage Movement, Theatrical Makeup & Demonstration Lab.
Body: My first time visiting the classes occurred after my tour, the Scrub-A-Thon and rehearsal for Out!—This department offers the student so much, that for me, I was unable to attend all of the class offerings that I wanted to this week due to class overlap and my sanity. I also had a birthday that week and plans in Austin and so I could only travel to Quad C early in the week. Sabbatical is also time to fill the well and the Austin City Limits Music Festival was the perfect remedy! (clearing throat…) The classes I attended were as diverse as the faculty and staff who teach them.
Basic Theatre Practice (Directing): 9am MWF Black Box
8:45a.m. I waited outside the space with some of the students for Robin Armstrong to arrive. When she did, we chatted for a spat and I picked a seat on the far side of where the students were. I recognized many of them from the weekend prior and was more comfortable that I knew their names and faces. The students are Justin, Jeremy, Shannon, Christie, Michelle, Julie, Andrew, Diane, Rachel, Jay, Kathy and Adam. 2 were missing that day. The class is working on Fool for Love by Sam Shepard right now—reading plays weekly as part of the class. Robin asked them to encapsulate the script/production in one sentence. She continually stressed the need for the director to stay active in their perceptions. Most of this class was devoted to discussion of how we deal in the business of theatre with the collaboration of different personalities and making a meaningful piece of work. This is a fantastic class and I was sad of the hour it was offered given my 1.5 hour trek in the morning to get there on time;(-- I could only visit Robin’s class one other time. We were able to visit before I left and I spent about an hour getting to know Robin and her love of combat and weapons. The last week I was in town, she invited me to a special lunch gathering of 4 students she was teaching Broadsword handling and basic combat manuveurs. Her knowledge and skill is amazing and very quickly one student who had never handled Broadsword (the others were familiar) was doing just as well as the other 3. Her method of teaching was enjoyable to watch and I was glad I got to meet her (she was also kind enough to get me in to see The Classical Acting Company’s production of Romeo and Juliet (Jeremy and Jay? also in this).
Lighting Design: 1pm MWF Alt Lab
12:45p.m. Laura McMeley is a new adjunct teaching Lighting Design this semester for Quad C. This also as she explained to me, was her first time teaching as well. Her approach to the information for the day was a power-point presentation on Lamps and the breakdown of each with regards to type, finishes, bases, code, life and wattage and lumen output. Her PP was clear to follow—I wished for the PP handout of such good information all in one place—There were 12 students, although some came in late (…ah, it happens everywhere…) and I didn’t get their names. The ones I did recognize were: Alex, Adam, Shannon, Dorian, Michael, Irene, Ashley, ?
Stage Movement: 10-11:15 a.m. T/TH Alt Lab
9:45 a.m. This is the one class that I am most excited about regarding new content and ideas. There about 13 –15 students and all are readying themselves for class by stretching and chatting before the teacher arrives. We are in the ALT Lab and of course, the carpeted floor is perfect for movement. There are new people coming in today to class that I haven’t met yet. Shannon Kearns quickly arrived in a wonderful flurry of energy and said hello and welcomed me so warmly that I felt like I have known her forever! She made it very easy for me to belong to a class that is quite intimate given the nature of the subject (the body) and the amount of risk involved. I appreciated that she let me play at times and warm up with them given yoga or dramatic gaming. She always was positive and had a positive way of looking at things without sugarcoating her view. She was very honest with students and her abilities were incredible as a professor, especially of movement and the body (I also visited Ms. Kearns Intro to Theatre Class at the end of September.) After I was introduced to the class (my first introduction!) we participated in yoga, amoeba and worked on Alexander Technique for the day. Shannon’s class was used to the nature of the course and a majority of students were dressed for the course—which is no jeans—I think I can only remember 2 students who did not do this. The next time I went to visit the course the students were no longer in the class. Your attitude really does matter when you approach movement and I could see that the students present really took the course seriously. After a few sun salutations and some time in down dog (yoga pose) Shannon walked and talked through various asanas. Yoga was done by 10:30ish and we moved onto isolation stretches throughout the body—this is somewhat similar to what I do with the Acting I in our warm-ups and I appreciated the familiarity of these exercises. I also received during class a syllabi and an article dealing with perceptions towards the Alexander Technique.
Next, Ms. Kearns moved to an exercise called the Ameoba where the class is essentially one single-celled organism and must replicate each other in movement in all directions. This was an interesting piece to see evolve in the moment and certainly an exercise to use in Acting I or II. Always, Shannon would ask for observations or comments after each series of activities—I liked that she was curious about how they were learning. Shannon spent the last third of the class going over Alexander Technique principles such as spine lengthening and awareness of the head, neck, spine in relation to the rest of the body. The students did floor work here and she talked them through a tension/release exercise in body awareness.
What fun I had in this class and what dynamics this professor shares with her students!
Theatrical Makeup: 1-2:15 a.m. T/TH Dressing Room
I was able to get some lunch before this class and check my email! (wasn’t able to do this in days!) I arrived at the dressing room to visit Jan Woods, adjunct professor in makeup, teach this class. There was not much space for me to observe as there looked to be about 12 students, 6 on each side of the mirror with really no space in between them. I sat to the side, behind the professor so that I could see how they were applying their makeup. Ms. Woods started right away with their Ben Nye kits and went into detail on what each item could be used for and how to clean and take care of it. She encouraged them to bring ceramic tiles and popcycle sticks to do their application and blending. This was a great idea and really does save the makeup over time. Each student was required to buy their own kit, but the instructor also had a large tackle box with additional colors and base creams. Today’s class had to do with finding the correct and blending (if need be) base color to match your skin tone. To test this under more theatrical settings (florescents used in class) she brought in a more powerful light to show the students the difference in their faces given stage light. This really made an impression on them as half of their face was washed out with no make-up, while the other side was exhibiting more depth on the face. With 30 minutes left in class, the students pulled out their worksheet (diagram with the face on it) and compared it with the color blending they did in class to find the right formula. A fun and informative class that I would like to see at SLCC because we do have someone now that can teach it.
Demonstration Lab 2:00-3:00 p.m. Tuesday only. Black Box
This class was my favorite overall because of the variety of the course and the fact that it is required of all theatre majors to attend as well as faculty and staff—but actually, there were far more than the majors at this class as it allows students to meet up with one another and network with the guest speakers invited to each demonstration lab. Tiffany Kellerman, the Production Assistant sets up the lab before the semester begins and also introduced each of the guests. While at Quad C was able to see 4 dem labs in action. The first one was on the subject of New Theatre in the Metroplex. Other dem labs focused on comedians in town and comedic writing, the Undermain theatre (alternative theatre that has been in Dallas over 20 years) as well as demonstrations on what is going on in the sections of Acting I on campus. I was so impressed with this course and I think the students recognized a good thing as this was the highest attended class of the week. People in class included, Christa, Thomas, Leah, Shawn, Jonathan, Dorian, Rachel, Ryan W. Julie, Michael, Andrew, Audra, Chris , Evan, Tim, Adam, Liz W. , Chris P., Daniel, Jared, Chris Y., Ryan G., Jess, and Tristian. Since all faculty and staff were also present for the demonstration labs, students could approach faculty after as well as faculty being able to get announcements to the majority of the students in the department during this one hour a week class. A course was a winner and something I would like to see us do, once we track our majors for sure.