Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stage Combat Workshop

On Saturday, my friend Ken Nicholas came to St. Mike's to give a stage combat workshop with our Drama Club! It was a great day. We started at 9am with warm-ups and basic hand-to-hand moves like slaps, punches, falls, and chokes. There were about 15 people from the club present, and we all got the chance to do each move.

During the afternoon we worked on a line of choreography using the hand-to-hand pieces from the morning and filmed them! It was definitely the most moves I've remembered in a long time; I find dance classes very challenging. I worked with Julia, my mentee in the drama club, and we had a lot of fun!

Later, we learned how to use whips. It was like genuine Indiana Jones material! Cracking whips is harder than it looks and some of them were really heavy. The workshop was only supposed to go until 5pm, but we had some interested students stay until almost 8pm with the sword work!
The champs that stayed for hours afterward!!

I got to spend some time with Ken and his friend Jenn who came up to see Vermont as well! We went to the Skinny Pancake, the Single Pebble, and around Burlington a little. I hadn't seen Ken since leaving Gateway Playhouse this summer, so it was a real treat to have him come up. Check out a video he made from the weekend: Welcome to UVM (pun intended).

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Class Registration...for the final time!

Last week I registered for classes for spring semester...my last semester at Saint Michael's College! It is so hard to believe 4 years have gone by. In a lot of ways I'm ready to be done with school: I often feel that classes and homework are holding me back from what I really want to do, but I know in the long run it's definitely worth the time and effort. I will miss the social life, however, and the safety net that school provides.

My final semester here includes 4 classes: my senior seminar class (during which I'll be discussing and presenting my work on my showcase piece, which is lighting design for the spring mainstage); a class on J. R. R. Tolkein, where we will read his works and discuss/analyze; a Spanish conversation class to keep up my skills; and Costume Crafts, where I'll learn the basics of costume use, history, certain stitches, and patterns. I will spend a lot of time in the theater again, as lighting designer for the spring mainstage, helping out with various tech elements of the other senior showcase plays, and as with this semester helping out with the tech classes there. I also may try to help out with the costume building labs more, since I'll be in the costume crafts class and haven't done costumes at all during my college career yet.

Class registration at Saint Michael's is hard. There isn't really a good way to do it, to be honest, and the registration days are often very stressful for students. I've been pretty lucky getting into the classes I need/want, but this time around especially I've heard a lot of people who haven't gotten any of the classes they needed. It seems that this is a downfall of the idea of small classes with the incoming classes growing every year.

With that update, I'm off to work on researching jobs! The life of a college senior....

Friday, November 11, 2011

University of Vermont's The Good Woman of Setzuan

Last night, I drove some first-years from Professor Nick Clary's first-year seminar class Drama & Culture to see UVM's performance of The Good Woman of Setzuan, a Brecht piece usually classified as epic theatre. The plot is fairly complex, involving a benevolent woman in the imaginary Chinese city Setzuan who is noticed by the gods for her goodness and rewarded with money. She buys a tobacco shop...and immediately is beset by the impoverished and the wealthy alike. The twists in the plot are unpredictable, and the ending left me absolutely stunned and wanting more.

While the point of epic theatre is to alienate the audience, or for the audience to always be aware that they are watching a play, this production directed by Peter Jack Tkatch emphasized the humanity of the characters and elements of both eastern and western theatre styles.

I was particularly interested in the scenic and lighting elements, even more than usual because I know both designers. Hannah Bean Brosnan, currently a senior at UVM who I worked closely with as a fellow stage management intern in 2010 at Saint Michael's Playhouse, designed a flexible world that emphasized oriental aspects, which is a change from the usual epic theatre starkness, but worked with the production very well to create coherency. The lighting by John Forbes was remarkable, creating several dramatic moments, especially with flying specials that isolated characters for certain moments, a dreamy sewer chute, and highlighting and silhouetting the gods. The costume design was an essential part of the revised theme of humanity, emphasizing reality, and differentiating characters.

The questions posed by Brecht in this play are endless, crossing lines of myth and religion, society and government. It fits this country's-- and the world's-- current struggles with poverty and economic crisis perfectly. Is it possible to be good to the world and good to oneself as well? How much is too much? Are the gods able to change anything? Can human nature be changed, or is the solution to change society?