Friday, September 10, 2010

New beginnings

There's something about a brand new start that always inspires me to write or document what my journey is going to be. Starting my graduate studies is no different, I suppose. I've also been inspired by one of my courses, Composition Theory and the Teaching of Writing, to consider new media (ie, this blog) as a good outlet for such writing. Strange that I haven't thought of this before? Perhaps.
I'm hopeful this will end up being a useful tool for conversation with other students, colleagues, artists, professors, whomever. In these beginning stages, however, perhaps a short introduction will be best.
I am beginning my first semester as a DA (Doctor of Arts) Fellow in the English Department at St. John's University. After being in the "real world" for last five or six years, it's a difficult transition but a really exciting and challenging one. In the years since I graduated from Muhlenberg College, I've pursued a career in classical acting and helped to form the Adirondack Shakespeare Company, of which I'm the Artistic Director. It's my dream job and my pursuit of the elusive title of "Dr. Shakespeare" is to help me tackle all the aspects of this dream job.
Our company is in the beginning stages of a long term project called Shakespeare IN THE RAW in which we're tackling the canon of Shakespeare in (approximate) order. We do the plays uncut, with a small company of actors, few costume pieces, props, and shortened rehearsal time. The idea is to energize the performance and throw focus to the text of each play -- in THE RAW, there's not much else for an actor to rely on except the words they are speaking. I'm planning to continue this project as part of my graduate research.
I'm also interested in playing with gender and casting. We do a lot of cross-gender casting, where a female actor plays a male character -- but she plays this character as a man. And vice versa. We have not attempted this yet with the leading roles in the canon yet, and I'm curious to see what happens when we try this in MacbethAntony and CleopatraOthello, etc.
This semester, I don't know how much I'll be able to focus on these particular projects yet. I'll be studying The Tempest in my Introduction to the Profession course. I'd really like to find a project for this course to tie into our second season of shows: Henry VMidsummer, and Merchant. Or into our next RAW, which will be Titus.
I am also taking a Composition Theory/Teaching of Writing course, in which I also have a semester-long project to consider. There's quite a bit of freedom with this project, so I'm throwing around ideas of working on a paper for a conference, or possibly working towards creating a syllabus for when I'll begin teaching a composition class next semester.
That seems enough of an introduction for now.

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