Tomorrow I'm off to Scranton once again to co-lead a week's workshops in the commedia dell'arte for Marywood's undergraduate theatre students, all of it culminating in a performance of an original commedia play in the town square on Labor Day - La Festa Italiana. It's been two years since I participated in this annual course, and I'm very excited to get back to it. It's supported by the Electric Theatre Company in conjunction with The Portal Project, which works to integrate education with the community at large. This workshop is immensely rewarding every time, so I'm eager to return to it.
Tomorrow will be my first day teaching with the Electric Theatre Company's new educational outreach program: Zip Zap Zop. Heather Stuart and I will be up to our old acrobalance, improvisation and physical characterization tricks with a large group of high school students of various ages from around the greater Scranton community. The program goes on throughout June, but I'll only be teaching on select days; namely May 22, June 5, 19 & 28. This is the kind of longer-term educational curriculum I'm excited to explore right now, to see what can be accomplished with more time to develop relationships and absorb training.
(Ed. - You know, I continue to be a jerk; I forgot AGAIN about Loki here. Below is something I should have posted IN MARCH, but didn't [in spite of what the post date may claim]. Sorry, again. [LAME...])
Tomorrow we kick off The Action Collective's first in a series of workshops devoted to different aspects of character-building. I begin the series with a focus on physical characterization and methods for creating and integrating it into a variety of styles of theatre. It's an interesting exercise for me personally, communicating what I'm normally teaching to inexperienced or non-actors to experienced performers, instead. This series will consist of at least three "scenes," and will have an exciting guest artist or two, so stay tuned...
Tomorrow and Wednesday I'll be substitute teaching for Suzi Takahashi's "Body Movement" class. This is a class for actors and non-actors alike interested in exploring physical expression through a theatre-history context, and I always enjoy my time spent in it. It's a special treat to have two days in which to work with the class, because it means I'll be able to assign the observational "homework" we use in In Bocca al Lupo. The students, having had a cursory lesson in the Commedia dell'Arte archetypes, will bring into the second class their personal observations of people and construct a character around them. It's great integration, and great fun.
Today I'll be teaching a two-hour workshop in commedia dell'arte movement at the City College of New York. It's a "Body Movement" class, taught by Suzi Takahashi, with whom I've worked several times before. The class will have to be very cursory, but I plan to keep them moving almost the entire time and to continue to quiz them on the archetypes to which I introduce them. It's great fun; these classes are always a fascinating mix of actors, dancers and folks who have background in neither.
So we took another class to Italy in July. That's where I was for all of July. And I totally and completely forgot to post it. So . . . SURPRISE! I'm back, and it was an incredible event of directing, teaching, acting and collaborating -- truly the best we've had yet. In addition to that, Heather Stuart and I got to perform at the inauguration of a renovated amphitheater in Aquapendente. We adapted the balcony scene from our clown Romeo & Juliet, and got the audience laughing and sighing, even with the text all in English. An amazing adventure, all around.
Tomorrow I'll be teaching a workshop in commedia dell'arte as a part of Sascha Just's Introduction to Theatre class. The plan is to spend the first half talking about the history of commedia and what follows from its traditions, and the second half bringing those traditions to life. This won't be my first Hunter workshop, but it is my first time working with Sascha, and it's exciting to make another educational connection.
This Tuesday I'll be making a trip to Philadelphia, to teach yet another commedia dell'arte workshop. This time, at Swarthmore College. It will be fast, but sometimes that's the best way to learn such a physical craft. I'm excited to be teaching in a new place!
Update: This workshop has been postponed to the 14th, which is a great relief to me, as I find two things oddly stressful when I must do them in the rain: traveling & commedia dell'arte.
Tomorrow I'll be teaching the first half of a cumulative four-hour workshop in commedia dell'arte movement at the City College of New York. It's a "Body Movement" class, taught by Suzi Takahashi, with whom I've worked before. This is the first time, however, that I've been a guest teacher for her in an actual movement studio, rather than a classroom. I'm also excited that I'll be teaching over two days, the second of which will be Monday. It means I'll be able to cover a lot of basics, and have the students process it and bring something of their own to the work.
Thursday and Friday Heather Stuart and I will spend our afternoons teaching and choreographing fight sequences for North Pocono High's upcoming production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. We taught workshops through the school's theatre, Shakespeare and PE classes in October, and are very excited to be making a return; especially in such a fun context!
Tomorrow I return to Marywood University to fulfill the promise of my missed days teaching commedia dell'arte last August. My workshop will be about two hours long, and cover material based on my inclinations and the students' requests. They requested information on career management, In Bocca al Lupo and even some further acrobalance training. At first I wasn't sure how to consolidate all this, but my desires helped me find common ground, and I've created a brief curriculum called "Finding Balance." It will combine all these requests under the umbrella notion of finding balance between the artistic and the pragmatic in a career in the theatre. This is, in essence, what I've dedicated Odin's Aviary to the exploration of, so I'm thrilled to draw these strands together. The workshop will largely be discussion-oriented, but broken up with physical training to emphasize ideas and keep us in our bodies whilst learning.
This Tuesday evening, I'll be teaching a workshop in acrobalance at the Electric Theatre Company to fledgling actors in their Griffin Conservatory. I usually teach this workshop with my acro partner, Heather Stuart, but she has injured herself on our current show (see 2/4/09) so this one will be a little different. Acrobalance, at least the way I learned it, has always had a lot in common with the precepts of good acting, and this session will focus on those ideas as much as on the moves and physical conditioning.
I'll be reading a sampling of several students' play-writing work this Monday as a part of the Steinberg Lab at Tisch. It's a mixed bag. The mystery prize. Will I be playing my age range? Will I even be playing my own sex? Let's see what's behind Door #1 . . .
Zuppa del Giorno is all set to perform its first artist-in-residency assignment through the NEIU (no, the other one). From October 6th through 10th we'll be teaching at North Pocono High, and not just theatre, either. In addition to two theatre classes daily, we've added a Shakespeare class and a physical education one. The Shakespeare should be good practice for our upcoming production of The Very Nearly Perfect Comedy of Romeo & Juliet. The gym class . . . uh . . .. Well, let's just say that teaching acrobalance to teenagers is rarely boring.
I will once again be returning (with even more redundancy) to act for the undergraduate playwriting lab at NYU. This Monday, midday, the play we'll be putting on its feet (or, rather, on chair legs) will be Rebecca Ellis's DIZZY, a quirky drama of the complicated confusion that can arise when female puberty meets male mid-life crisis. I'll be playing a young aspiring priest, the new teacher at an all-girls Catholic school. But I'm not the one you have to watch out for . . .
This Monday, in addition to acting in an industrial, I will be participating in my first table reading of the new school year down at NYU. The reading is to help a playwright in their Steinberg Lab develop his (or her?) dramatic work, entitled The User Guide, and I will be playing the Guide, a somewhat mysterious figure who lives beneath the floorboards and reminds one of a butler. Michael Caine, I summon thee...
This weekend I'll be travelling all the way out to Pittsburgh for a 2008 KCACTF regional theatre festival. Once there, we'll be teaching a workshop in improvisation and physical-characterization development for any college student who is interested. Come get a jump on your technique, and let us talk you ear(s) off about the joys of In Bocca al Lupo and studying theatre in Italy!