Every other year, the theatre department offers Advanced Acting for students who are looking to hone in on their acting skills in preparation for their future in professional acting. Led by Professor Dan Rairdin-Hale, the 12 students enrolled have immersed themselves in scripts written in verse, along with lengthy discussions on the realities of choosing to make a living in acting.
The intensity of the course was set on the first day of class, when the students were asked to memorize and prepare a short monologue from A Midsummer Night's Dream, by William Shakespeare, for the following class period.
"Having a monologue in verse to memorize so early on really set the mood of the class," said Luke Peterson, a first-year student enrolled in the course. "I looked around and saw almost all upperclassmen, but I knew I was up for the challenge. It was definitely excellent practice for the real world, because in the competitive nature of the acting world you have to memorize quickly and be able to hold your own against actors who have been professionally acting for twice as long as you. So while it was a bit intimidating, I knew that working on this skill was definitely preparing me for the future."
The first half of the semester, the class focused heavily on understanding and memorizing some of Shakespeare's work, specifically with the First Folio technique. Students have broken down several of the Bard's monologues through scansion, learning how to mark their page to not only aid in the memorization process but to also help with the delivery. First Folio is a compilation of Shakespeare's work exactly as he wrote it, including incorrect spellings, punctuation, and capitalization choices, and actors can use these clues to make choices as they give their speech.
"I've been a fan of Shakespeare for a while, so to be able to dive so deeply into a content area that I love makes the class really enjoyable," Peterson stated.
The class also dove into the ins and outs of the professional acting world. Students spent a week examining headshots, fine-tuning resumes, and even getting ideas for their own website or film reel. Rairdin-Hale, who has spent time working as a professional actor himself, offered his expert advice on how students should be preparing now for their future in theatre. He shared his tips on finding an agent and helped to show both the pros and cons of joining the actor's union.
I've been a fan of Shakespeare for a while, so to be able to dive so deeply into a content area that I love makes the class really enjoyable
Luke Peterson, First-year student
Moving forward, the students will continue to tackle more of Shakespeare's work in preparation for their final: Midnight Shakespeare. Midnight Shakespeare is a performance that takes place during finals week, following the highly sought-after midnight breakfast. The Advanced Acting students will spend their final weeks of class rehearsing one of Shakespeare's plays and then transform the Rogalski Center Food Court (or similar space on campus) into a theatre space for a one-night performance.
Now, what will they be performing you might ask? You'll have to stay tuned to find out!