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MMC Theatre Professor Shares Innovative Teaching Strategies for Performing Arts

April 14, 2020
Barbara Adrian, Professor of Theatre Arts, discusses the various methods used in her remote Acting classes, after on-campus courses have been suspended for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester.
THTR 203: Voice and Speech

For their performance final, students enrolled in Barbara Adrian’s Voice and Speech for Actors courses will self-tape a contemporary monologue of their choosing twice. The first tape will be shot close up, standard for television or film, while the second will show the actor’s entire body and will be performed as if on stage. Students must incorporate all they have learned about breath, tone, range, articulation, and story-telling but for two different mediums, which require different applications of their year-long practice and study. “This crisis has afforded me and the students the rare opportunity to explore how the technique changes according to the medium,” explains Adrian. “I am now thinking to include such an opportunity even when we are back in the studios next fall.”

THTR 224: Movement for Actors

One of Adrian’s THTR 224 assignments this semester is to create a character from imagination with a specific outline of requirements and expectations – a staple of second semester Movement for Actors courses. In a typical class, this exercise is completed in a studio with limited furniture and props. Yet, since they are using their own home environment to develop the character and their blocking, Adrian finds that her students are able to develop their characters and movement more specifically and with greater depth. “We’ve discovered that being in an actual living room, bedroom, or kitchen challenges them to use the environment to advantage, which helps to tell the physical story of this character,” she explains. Students are required to self-tape their presentations, which teaches the actor how to perform for the camera, including learning to move on camera, stay in frame, and use the camera as another character to whom they are speaking and responding. Adrian hopes to continue these self-taping exercises when in-person classes are resumed as well.   

These courses are just two examples of how MMC faculty are working to adapt to the current circumstances caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. For more examples of the work our faculty has developed, check out our recent story on MMC’s Transition to Remote Learningas well as our Scenes from Virtual Reality page, where we are continuously updating stories like these.