REBOLLO BLOG SIX:
More Classes at CCCC and Quad C
Abstract: Visitation in fourth week, 2 Intro to Theatre classes, Acting III: Improvisation, Discussion with Tom Hull, Demonstration Lab, Acting IV: Acting for Film and Television, Stage Movement and Acting I.
Body: After about one week away from campus due to being in Austin, I returned the fourth week to continue my observations of classes and rehearsal for Out! (separate blog).
Intro to Theatre: 11-11:50 a.m. MWF BB231
With a little help from the information desk, I found the room for Intro to Theatre. Shannon Kearns (who teaches movement and improv) teaches several sections of this class. There are 13 sections that are offered throughout the 3 campuses. We currently offer about 9 sections at Meramec and extension campuses. This is also their ‘bread and butter’ course and they have a pretty sophisticated way of teaching the class which includes guest speakers for each unit taught as well as a requirement to see 4 plays that semester as well as practicum hours for the student to complete.
Shannon took care of some announcements for the week such as ushering for the students as well as seeing the next show. The bulk of class was spent on Shakespeare’s Midsummer and the characters involved in the play. We saw on video the last scene of the Joe Papp version of Shakespeare in the Park with William Hurt and Calista Flockheart. Overall, everyone seemed attentive regarding the character details of the play. She asked them to consider themes and diction of the piece. Her delivery is spot on and she is just as honest in this basic course as she is in movement. I enjoyed this hour of Intro.
Acting III: Improvisation 1:00-2:15 MW Black Box
This class is also taught by Shannon Kearns and was clearly an advanced class in acting. The students were all early to the class and some were also warming up and readying themselves for the hour. Students in here were Ali, Debbie, Gillian, Randy, Audra, Chris, Tristian, Rachel and Mike. They warmed up as a group by starting with a game called, “Bunny Bunny Bunny” a fun and fast-paced concentration and physical exercise that got all involved. Shannon then moved to Freeze Tag Improv which is what they were working on the week prior. Then the students worked with objects (mime) in relation to the space—this was challenging for them
and they worked on this for about 25 minutes. Finally they finished with improvised situations and physical choices for. Skydiving as well as “worlds worst…” What was so great is that Shannon encouraged them to continue to playwrite as the improv continued. She really gave them tools to continue the improv—which often times is what stifles the actor in the moment.
Discussion with Tom Hull –
Assistant Technical Director of Quad C
I was thrilled that my first interview was with Tom Hull, the Asst. TD of Quad C theatre. Yo Erickson, the TD also joined the later half of this discussion regarding the technical aspects of the program as well as how productions and training are handled.
We discussed intelligent lighting and their invited production to the Kennedy Center. We also discussed what most students carry as far as knowledge prior to arriving at Quad C. This was very telling as many of the incoming students do have some experience in the area—either through their high school or actually working in community theatre. Tom’s goal is to teach the students all he knows—much of which was self taught (DMX) when he was working at the Dallas Theatre Center. He and Yo also went over what lighting and sound boards and mixers that they use in each of their spaces and how students get involved in the crew of a production. We talked about the need for faculty and staff to continue training in high end technologies in order to teach the student in a relevant way. Tom explained that because they have rigging in the John Anthony Theatre that he went through Tomcat training to be able to run it. He explained that the moving instruments work really well when used in conjunction with the rigging. Tom not only designs lighting for the theatre productions but also employs design work to the Jazz concerts that also take place in the JAT.
Not only have both Tom and Yo trained students, but they have also conducted workshops to train High School teachers on intelligent lighting given their lighting lab and ability to use
multiple moving instruments concurrently. We also talked about the difficulty of certification in technical theatre and about their course offerings. One interesting note is that in the spring they will be offering for the first time a course in Stage Management taught by Yo. This is certainly one area that I would like to see developed at Meramec. Tom, Yo and I made a second date to talk more about the running of the shop and how students are hired and assessed.