I gave my theatre appreciation class their final assignment. They nearly had a nervous breakdown.
Student: I’m not creative. I can’t possibly do this. I’m a softball player.
Me: How do you know? You haven’t even tried.
Student: I know me.
Me: Do you listen to music?
Me: Have you ever designed sound before?
Student: I don’t even know what that is.
Me: Right. How about you research what a sound designer does before you decide if you can do this. I purposely gave you choices in this assignment so that you could find one which you were most comfortable accomplishing.
Student: (forlornly) Ok…
Although she gave me a forlorn look, I know this young woman well enough to know she’ll try.
My goal is for these young people to see theatre as more than a bunch of actors in films. Luckily this semester,, they enjoyed most of the videos I showed them. And they enjoyed seeing a live production as well. Several students even attended productions on their own (okay, it’s a class requirement, but still…)
One of the outcomes of course is to explore “the collaborative nature of theatre”.
I thought an assignment (set, costume, props, or sound) for a particular play (in this case, “The Importance of Being Earnest”) would be an excellent way to learn about the process of creative collaboration.
The students must research the responsibilities of their chosen designer position, create powerpoint, design, find fabric swatches or paint chips, choosen pre and post show music or make two props. Lastly, they must present their project to the class.
They will evaluate their learning near the end of the semester. That’s when the project will do its magic, I’m hoping. Let’s see if the kids notice any differences in themselves after the project. I’m hoping they’ll come away from it
What they don’t know yet is I plan to throw a kink in the works next week. As the director of the imaginary show, I gave them my concept and color palette. I haven’t decided what I want to throw at them, but they need to learn to be flexible and open minded.
Besides, I hold the gradebook (mwahhaha….)
These students are mostly high school kids, graduating very soon, who are taking the class for college credit. They want absolutes and to regurgitate the information through a series of tests. They have seniorities like crazy. Right now they are hanging on by their fingernails.
I could feel the stress level rise when I assigned this project.
They don’t like changes. They grow impatient with I change due dates or chapter assignments even though I’m very understanding when they were confused and didn’t turn in their work on time. (My fault, really.)
This will be an interesting couple of weeks.
I’ll be back to share the students’ evaluations of the experience. Wish us luck.
Visual art is the pause that refreshes the soul, don’t you agree?
The world is sometimes unbearable to think about, especially now. It’s harsh, cold, unwelcoming and frightening.
The internet made everything transparent and gives us news in real time. Of course, that’s a good aspect of it, too but there are days when it is difficult to see or take in what is going on in the world.
On those days, I retreat to the arts. Today, I’m going to speak about visual art and how it makes our lives more exciting.
Consider this–you travel to an art museum. It’s quiet. It’s lit dramatically with spot lights on particular pieces and all the displays are arranged well.
As I focus on each art piece, I feel the stress leave me. Sometimes my body rebels.
At first, I am anxious. It is probably because my mind is switching gears, slowing down just as my pace does as I stroll through the museum.
I find one painting I particularly enjoy. Maybe it is one I’ve never viewed before, or it’s one I love such as Seurat’s “La Grande Jatte”
Pointillism fascinates me–painting a blue dot by a red dot and your eye sees purple. That’s amazing.
Or Monet’s Gardens
Bright colors make me happy. I know a teacher who loved Florida and beaches. She was a physical education teacher. She wore bright colors the entire school year even in the dead of winter. I think she had the right idea.
The art in front of you is the REAL deal, you know? The Picasso painting you are enjoying is his REAL canvas not some reprint on a discount store shelf. It almost gives me chills.
Maybe I notice an unusual sculpture like this one at the Nelson Atkins Art Gallery in Kansas City. This is Nick Cave’s piece entitled “Property”.
If I don’t readily understand or appreciate an art piece, it is then I know to stop and take the time to seriously consider it.
After a few minutes, I notice my mind clears. I relaxed. At the same time, the art museum invigorates me, it wears me out. The stop and walk, stop and walk cycle isn’t one I am used to following.
If you think about it, you don’t even use the same posture as you do in your normal life. You closely peer at the brush strokes of the masters. You lean forward to see the inside of a bowl from thousands of centuries before us. Shifting left and right on your feet, to see the different perspectives of a photo exhibit your legs become weary.
I sit on a bench provided by the art museum but it isn’t comfortable. Maybe that’s on purpose. Those wooden seats are hard, period. I think the bench is saying, “Enjoy the art, but keep moving. There’s more to see.”
Like a tomb or shrine, the museum is silent. One can’t think if there is too much noise. Much of the world’s sound is merely noise, you must admit.
It’s a hallowed place to me. A space to honor the creativity, imagination and genius of people. It’s a place to inspire you.
Since retiring, I have more time to enjoy art. At present, I’m too busy to visit an art exhibit, so the top of my desk will have to suffice.
On this gloomy day which holds on to winter, I have a Seurat coffee mug to lift my spirits. It will do for the moment.
What are some of your favorite paintings?
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