Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Those Who Teach, Learn!

When I found out I would be teaching this summer for BLUR's summer arts program, I was very excited! For those of you that don't know about BLUR, it's a wonderful summer arts program, where students can come and experience visual arts, creative writing, and theatre, blurring the line between all of them, to open the creative channel to news ways of expressing their area of focus. And if that doesn't sound awesome enough, they get to grow artistically on one of the most beautiful campus's in the country!! Sweet Briar!

Endstation has been lucky enough to participate in BLUR's first year and help develop the program! Sergio Soltero, George Carruth, Michael Stablein Jr., Angie Gallagher, and myself are all teaching different areas within the theatre track. The class is small in number but mighty in spirit! This is a group of very talented, intuitive young adults. There is Josh, Alex, Alexis, Paige, Sienna, Charlotte, and Natalie and the fantastic go-to girl/assistant Tania.

I taught the Movement portion, an area within theatre I love. I've always found the study of an animal to be helpful in developing the physicality of a character. Animals react mainly on instinct and impulse, very exciting things for both an actor to play with and an audience to see! Sienna was wonderful enough to allow me to share with the process we worked on in class. The students first picked a character/person who had an interesting physicality and studied them closely. The character Sienna chose was Frank-N-Furter from Rocky Horror Picture Show. I then had the students pick an animal that resembled their character's physicality/movement. Sienna chose an Ostrich for Frank-N-Furter because of the delicate but powerful strut they have. The students then combined the two, adding in the animals physicality on top of character's movement, allowing the characters physicality to become enhanced and perhaps evolve into something new. In Sienna's case the ostrich's wings influenced the placement of her arms. She lead with her chest more in the final walk, and lifted her feet and knees in a more triumphant step. She had an air of confidence in her third walk that told a lot about her character. It was really exciting to see this walk grow into something specific. Great job Sienna!!!

That is the video showing all three walks! The first walk is her character walk. The second is her final walk, influenced by her animal study, and the final is her ostrich movement. (Sorry for the mix-up in order, I am not very computer savvy!!)

Movement and physicality is something I've been paying close attention to currently. I am playing Viola in Endstation's upcoming production of Twelfth Night (opening this weekend!) Viola decided to dress like a man named Cesario to serve a count (played by Michael "The Vixen" Stablein Jr., and while I am doing a plug, sponsor him!), whom she has fallen in love with. She must convince everyone around her that she is a man. Teaching this class has really helped me with the whole process of developing a character physically and figuring out how to move like a man. Not only have I re-discovered for myself the exercises and observation techniques, but I have learned so much from watching my students! The old (and in my opinion, incorrect) saying is: those who can't do: teach, but I say those who teach: learn.

Thanks you guys! Can't wait for you to see the show :)

Jessica Mansfield

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