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Advanced Projects in Theatre\


Advanced Projects in Theatre

From the Advanced Projects in Theatre Classes


So, if you can believe it, the last live performance – the last Art Event – at school before campus closed was The 2020 Student Drama Series: the culmination of the Advanced Projects in Theatre class. We had two shows on Friday, February 28 – one at 4pm and one at 7pm – less than two weeks before school shut down. It was awesome to have so many students, faculty, and staff in the house supporting these 8 entirely student-made productions. In case you missed it, I’m including the link to the video of the SDS (from the 4pm showing), here! (Also, ICYMI, here’s the link to the Winter Play, Antigone X, presented by the theatre department in late January.)

Once Projects class went into shelter-in-place mode, we tried to figure out what making theatre outside of a theater, meant. If it’s not live, is it theatre? If it’s performed live but streamed through a camera lens, is it theatre? If there’s no live audience gathering together and sharing space, is it theatre? These are questions that the entire national theatre community – heck, the entire global theatre community – has been asking for the past two months. And we’re still trying to figure it out! What we have determined so far, though, is that it’s still possible to make performance in these socially distant times. And, it’s still possible to do two other things that are central to theatre making: connect to your community and tell a story.

So, in addition to watching theatre productions together, online, what we did a lot of in 4th quarter Projects, was compose little performance pieces, very, very quickly and with little to no prep time. I would give the class a composition – a document that would have a list of elements, or, a list of ingredients – on it. Then, the Projects students – sometimes on their own, sometimes in groups – would set about making short little performances that included all of the ingredients I’d listed in the document. Once they were given the composition, the students had anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours to make something. I’ve included links to a handful of the compositions made, along with the original document the students were given with the list of required ingredients. NOTE: these compositions are purposefully abstract and not driven by a traditional narrative. The whole point of composing quickly is that you’re, ideally, forced to get out of your head; the goal is to put the pieces together in a way that doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you. You want to follow your interest and your impulse and see where it takes you.

Projects Class Composition for Monday, 3/23/20:

Solo Composition
Take one image, theme, motif from either “A Disappearing Number”, or our discussion of the show and free-write about it for 5 minutes.

Figure out where you want your audience (the rest of us) to be/where you want to place your computer/camera. How – or, from what perspective – do you want us to witness your composition?

From there: choose 3 snippets of text from what you wrote – it can be anything: a single sentence, a few sentences, or repeated words or images – and incorporate them into a solo composition that includes the following:

-       A Revelation of Space(s)
-       A Revelation of Character(s)
-       A Revelation of Object(s)

(These can be any spaces, objects, characters in your room and/or home.)

-       A Repeated Gesture
-       A Repeated Series of Movements That Completes an Action.
-       An Unexpected Moment of Song or Music
-       A Moment of Stillness
-       A Moment of Silence

And then…

-       A De-Revelation of Space
-       A De-Revelation of Character
-       A De-Revelation of Space

How do you use light and sound that already exists in your home in this composition? How do you use – and even, change – the narrow frame that your audience will watch this composition through?

David Wignall




Projects Class Composition: Monday, March 30

Group Composition

 All Groups Must Use the Following Text:

“Perhaps I am walking along a street at night, in some strange city, before I have found companions. I pass the lighted window of a shop where perfume is sold. The window is filled with pieces of colored glass, tiny transparent bottles in delicate colors, like bits of a shattered rainbow. Then all at once my sister touches my shoulder. I turn around and look into her eyes. Oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be! I reach for a cigarette, I cross the street, I run into the movies or a bar, I buy a drink, I speak to the nearest stranger--anything that can blow your candles out! For nowadays the world is lit by lightning! Blow out your candles, Laura---and so goodbye.”

You can use this text however you want – choral speak it, break it up, repeat it, make it a conversation, make it a song, make it a recording, a litany, a chant, a soundscape – or WHATEVER YOU WANT. It does not need to all be said at once. But you must use ALL of it.

Also, your composition MUST include the following elements, or, ingredients:

-       Revelations of Spaces
-       Revelations of Characters
-       Revelations of Objects
-       At LEAST 3 different spatial relationships between the 3 people in the group
-       A Shared Moment of Simultaneous Movement – both synchronized movement and asynchronized movement
-       Broken Expectations
-       Repetition
-       Use of Reflection
-       An Excess of 1 of the 4 Major Elements: Fire, Air, Earth, Water

How can you – and the different spaces you’re inhabiting – be in conversation with each other? How can you find a way to use your screens to create an even larger world for your composition to exist in? How can you use any devices and technology in your possession to amplify the theatricality – and the liveness – of what you’re presenting, as opposed to lessen it? How do you take advantage of the literal distance between you? How does the required text amplify all of these things as well?

Projects Class Composition: Monday, March 30

Projects Class Composition: Monday, April 13

Solo Composition

All Individuals Must Use ONE of the Following 3 Quotes:

“… altruism reaches across with a sense of solidarity and empathy; charity hands down from above… Giving is itself the gift, and there can be a deep mutuality between giver and recipient in the horizontality of altruism rather than the hierarchy of charity.”

“But it is not bureaucrats who will be the first responders when the next disaster, whether brought on by terrorists or some other agent, comes. It won’t even be the police or firefighters. It will be our neighbors, it will be the strangers in the next car, it will be our family members. The effectiveness of disaster response is thus diminished to the degree that we over-rely on command and control. This is another case where political ideology trumps good scientific knowledge about how the world works.”

“It has made me far more interested in people’s own capacity for self-organizing and for improvising. You come to realize that people often do best when they’re not following a script or a score but when they’re improvising and coming up with new riffs, and I see this tremendous creativity in disaster responses both on the part of community residents and on the part of good emergency personnel – seeing them become more flexible, seeing them break rules, seeing them use their ingenuity in the moment to help restore the community and to protect life, human life, and care of victims. It is when people deviate from the script that exciting things happen.”  

You can use the quote you choose however you want – break it up, repeat parts or sentences (or words), make it a conversation with someone else in your home, make it a song, make it a recording, a litany, a chant or mantra, a soundscape – or WHATEVER YOU WANT. It does not all need to be said at once. Also, I recognize that these quotes are long – so feel free to only use part – or parts – of them and/or break them up, and/or greatly vary how different parts are used.

Also, your composition MUST include the following elements, or, ingredients:

-       Revelations of 1 Private/Solo and 1 Group/Collective Space
-       Revelations of the Characters most in your life, right now
-       Revelations of 2 Disaster Objects
-       An Element of Video Magic
-       2 Daily Pandemic Rituals: one sacred and one quotidian
-       Tesseracts
-       Broken Expectations
-       Excesses (yes, more than 1) of 1 of the 4 Major Elements: Fire, Air, Earth, Water

Once again, I ask you: How can you use any devices and technology in your possession to amplify the theatricality – and the liveness – of what you’re making/presenting, as opposed to lessen it? How can you welcome us into, and reveal, your world? How can you also reveal how mutual aid is – or is not – working in your life right now? How can you reveal how your community is – or is not – coming together right now?


Projects Class Composition: Monday, April 13

Matthew Gin

Lukas Bacho

Mary Qiu

Anna Neumann-Loreck