Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Humbling but eye-opening

Yesterday afternoon I auditioned for Character Development, a performance class I'm interested in taking in the fall.  The instructor really picked apart how I did my monologue; basically, I wasn't living it, I was performing it.  I was having trouble embodying the changes she was suggesting, so no telling whether I'll get into the class.

I was pretty demoralized after that, but today, after sleeping on it, I've realized something important.  All those years in community theater may have done me a disservice.  As with all my years and years of choral experience, no one ever told me I was doing it wrong or tried to give me any advice, so I kept doing the same things, year after year.  Now I've got a coupla decades' worth of bad habits that I need to unlearn.  (This realization is SO apropos of my Alexander Technique class!)  Now that I know that it needs to happen, though, it can happen.  (Because of course I can't fix a problem I don't know about.)

If I don't get into the class, I have a few excellent training options in town.  If I do get into it, I can look forward to a semester of being taken apart and, hopefully, being put back together again but better.  If my voice lesson experience is any indication, it'll be excruciating at times and there will almost certainly be tears of frustration, but this professor has SO much to teach that it would be well worth it.

Friday, March 17, 2017

This semester's butt-kicking class

... is Intro to Lighting Design.  I did want to get a little familiarity with the basics of lighting design, not because I have any delusions about becoming a lighting designer, but so I can at least talk intelligently with lighting designers when I'm doing community theater.  I also wanted to develop a better idea of what I'm looking at in that respect when I go to see a show.

I'm developing a very healthy respect for what lighting designers do!  After finishing the latest homework assignment, I told the grad student teaching the course that lighting designers must be part engineer.  All the technical detailshow many lights you can put where without tripping a circuit breaker, making sure the lights are positioned so that you have no "dark spots" or funky shadows on stage, angling the lights to highlight actors' faces but not blind them or the audience, ...are rather intimidating in their numbers and complexity.

Part of our homework consists of attending the university's four main-stage productions this semester and at least one professional production and doing a write-up of the lighting design for each one.  My first write-up was pretty thin, partly because it was right at the beginning of the semester, when I was still learning what to write about, and partly because I was an understudy in the show, so when I attended, I was paying more attention to the person I was understudying than to the lighting.  I've since done two more, which I think were rather better.  The third one was on a professional production.  The lighting for that one was so dramatic that even the Chief noticed a lot of the things the designer did.  That one just about wrote itself.

We still haven't gone into detail about how to decide which instrument (that's what the lights are called) to use, but I imagine that'll come.  There's SO MUCH to know about lighting design that I can well believe that it's impossible to cover it all in an introductory class like this one.

Doing the most recent homework, I couldn't help thinking Dad would be so proud to see me using my scale ruler like a pro.  Here in the US, we use architectural (english) rather than engineering (metric) scale for theater, but you read them both the same way.

The beauty of being a second-year senior

.. is that I'm at the point where I can pretty much take what I want.  I just need 2 "supporting" classes at the 300 or 400 level, one 400-level theater history class, and one last practicum credit - 10 credits.

I just had my advising session for the fall semester.  I told Susan (who's a marvel - she obviously loves her job) that I want to take 2 classes this summer that will count for my supporting classes.  One is Jane Austen: Novels, Films & Adaptations, the other is Hair & Wigs for the Theater.  You may remember I signed up for the latter class last summer, but it was canceled for under-enrollment.  It's the same instructor, so I'm assuming I'd be able to use the textbook I ordered last year, before the class was canceled.  I'm crossing my fingers that they get enough students to run the class this time.

That would leave me with only the history class & practicum to take in the fall.  However, I've already signed up to audition for Character Development and Contemporary Musical Theater.  The second one is self-explanatory, but the other one would be a unique performance opportunity.  Apparently you spend the semester "getting inside" an actual historical figure whose portrait or statue is in a local museum.  Toward the end of the semester, you reenact that person at the museum for actual museum patrons.  For example, if I were doing Eleanor Roosevelt, I'd interact with museum-goers as Eleanor Roosevelt, clothing, accent and all.

I'll also continue with the Vocal Minor program in the fall (assuming I audition successfully) and sing in one of the choruses.  Gotta get my music fix, after all. 😉

This is the "problem" with having my advising appointment so much before the next semester - we're just going into spring break and I'm already looking ahead to my next classes.