Romeo, Romeo!

Here are some pics from this summer's theater class. We had a good time practicing acting with Paula Wilson, learning a bit about screenplays from Jaeho Lee, taking speech lessons from Kenneth Drennen, and learning the inspirations behind being a director of photography from Tommy Upshaw.

I started off the class bold and brave. Thinking about illustrating the importance of voice, I pretended to be Robot 7.632, as I typed verses from my mainframe. Then the class was encouraged to write their own robot narratives.

Many of the more timid in class expressed their dismay at having to perform so soon.

"You want me to do it in front of the class?" a student asked innocently.

"Yes," I said diabolically.

As classes went by during the summer, students got more and more brave with each other, making critiques, and putting themselves into performances and writing exercises.

By the time we got to the end of the course, students were performing their own scenes from Julia Cho's BFE (see above).

The performances were so good that I think I'll have students start scene studies earlier, and drop the Shakespeare study. If we had more time, then maybe we could talk more about William, but, for now, I think it's time to say goodbye.

I really liked watching the students problem solve. That is the basis of creativity. In one performance, students had filmed performances, and then presented the piece as a retrospective from the guise of a talk show (see above). In another, students used flashlights, fake mustaches, and backdrops in the room to help transform a classroom into a convenient store. Both were solid pieces and showed who the true stars of the course were - aside from our celebrity guests - the students. Regardless of the exercise, or fear of performing, they were willing to offer their best everyday. I found that particularly impressive, especially when a majority of students were biology majors, and more interested in earning "credit" initially (as was confided to me).

"What inspired you to take this course?" I asked one medical student.

"Honestly, it was for credit."


"Yes," he laughed, and then quickly added: "But I like it now."

The class responded with more laughter.

"F for you," I said with a smile.

I'm glad students who were less inclined to perform found an avenue towards performance. I'm also happy the class got so close. On the last day of class, as I left the classroom, I could sense that the class was still going. No one was leaving. I got a few waves. Some nice smiles.

"Uh, professor," one student said. "I'm going to stick around and chat with everyone."

"Sure," I said.

"That's okay, right?"

"Of course."

A bunch of students were sitting on desks reviewing the performances they had just completed. A few others were standing in semi-circles off to the side in open space, practicing some acting exercises Paula Wilson had shown them earlier in the semester. The class had become self-sufficient. That's when it hit me. The class will continue without me.

That's what theater is all about, right?

I'm in Long Beach now. Tomorrow I go to L.A. to visit Stacy Dacheux and talk about art. Then I'm off to New York to finish editing the film and hang with friends. It's nice to have so much to do with buddies here in the states, but I can't help but miss all the amazing students who became my friends in Seoul.

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