A class act

I only get to teach the course in which students are introduced to the solo performance form in the last 4 weeks of the semester every two years. I no longer think that is enough and I am taking action by creating a new class (my class act) devoted to the solo performance form alone. In that class, I want us to read the written words of various solo performances, to watch (when the technology works) the video clips of various solo performances, and to stage excerpts from a variety of solo performances. Depending upon what’s going on in the theater world when the course is offered, we might even go to a live solo performance. Then, together, I want us to identify what the signature elements of a solo performance might be (and yes I purposely selected the phrase “might be” rather than “must or should be” because I think defining the ingredients of a genre or form must be fluid and collaborative) in order to pinpoint what makes a solo performance work for the story, for the performer and for the audience. Autobiography? A rant? Storytelling? Social/Cultural/Political Intervention or Critique or Commentary? Add humor? Music? Media? Dance? Go into the audience’s space? Bring the audience into the performer’s space?

Once we’ve figured out the ingredients of the solo performance form, and this is perhaps the most important element, I want students to create and perform a solo performance of their very own (our class act). I decided upon this as a crucial element of the course after participating in an amazingly rewarding, energizing and inspiring acting workshop led by the solo performer, Tim Miller, this past October. I will discuss this experience in more detail in a future post, but the point I want to make right now is that one of the best ways to learn about something (or to teach something) is to actually do it. I am not a trained actor, but after that workshop I not only believed I had a solo performance in me, I also made my audience believe I was a solo performer. I know that because I heard them laugh and, because the space was so intimate, saw them shake their heads in agreement or disagreement. So, if I can do it, my students can do it too. And, if they put in the time and energy, they can do it really, really, really well! Of that I am convinced.

2 thoughts on “A class act

  1. I wish I was still an undergrad. I’d want to take this, even if I’d have anxiety and be mortified for most of the semester. It sounds like a fantastic class.

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