The Graduate Certificate program in Devised Performance will train and launch the next generation of theater professionals, adroit in creating original theater with a rigorous attention to quality with all the materials at their disposal: their bodies, voices, imaginations and skills in collaboration and in creating surprising and arresting moments of live performance.
The four-semester curriculum leverages a variety of disciplines, including Lecoq pedagogy and offers several channels of exploration in movement, voice, improvisation, and ensemble creation. Weekly seminars include master classes with theater leaders, as well as poets, sculptors, videographers, and artists who work in a range of disciplines.
Generally, studio coursework focuses on four primary strands of theater:
Movement: Students train their bodies daily through instruction in acrobatics/gymnastics, movement analysis, dance and movement improvisation, movement composition and core training.
Voice: Students train weekly in voice that encompasses breathing, choral singing, listening, vocal improvisation and work on accessing a pre-verbal “primitive voice”. Vocal work complements the movement training in several key ways, allowing students to develop and integrate these two creative tools. The curriculum recognizes a distinction between the socialized voice that comments, asserts, judges and conveys ideas and the authentic uncensored “vertical voice” that connects to nature, to illogical and artistic impulses and to emotional registers that can be utilized in performance.
Improvisation: Students work on a variety of improvisational themes that vary in length, some lasting a week, others lasting up to a month or longer. There is a strong emphasis on improvisational activity in the program that reinforces the central significance of “play”. Students are introduced to physical exercises, masks and contemporary performance that help to define the distinction between playing and being.
The daily improvisational work trains performers to trust the impulses that emerge in the midst of performing. The performer’s body and mind collaborate to learn how to be an actor-writer, deeply aware of the moment-to-moment choices of the performer as well as the arc of the scene or play.
Ensemble Creation: Through collaborative and playful exercises each week students learn to function together spontaneously and intuitively around a theme or themes to devise bold and courageous new performance work as an ensemble. Exercises provide the opportunity for students to develop the necessary ensemble skills that include leadership, vision, shared vocabulary, artistic alignment, listening, performance sensitivity, play and trust.
The overall objective of the program is to provide the student with the knowledge to integrate the work in each of the distinct classes toward a common goal: the development of physically precise, imaginative, original works of Theater that meet extraordinarily high standards of excellence. Additionally, the student will learn how to develop an audience and to properly fundraise and finance his/her work. Through the individual courses students will learn to utilize their bodies, voices and imaginations onstage and to deploy these skills when creating original Theater. A graduate of the program will be prepared with the skills and knowledge to enter the professional Theater world as an actor, director and as a member of a theatrical ensemble.
- To train and launch the next generation of theater professionals, adroit in creating original Theater with a rigorous attention to quality with all the materials at their disposal: their bodies, voices, imaginations and skills in collaboration and in creating surprising and stunning moments of live performance.
- To expand and nourish the local, national, and international communities of forward-thinking Theater artists, and to encourage the creation of groundbreaking original work.
- To instill independence and a sense of agency in students that results in their ability to be self-starters and risk-takers.
- To teach students the principles of working in an ensemble, including how to lead and follow, and how to evaluate another person’s work.
- To integrate Lecoq, Chaikin, Teater Slava, Headlong, and Pig Iron pedagogy throughout the curriculum, including how to draw inspiration from the world around us, effectively integrate observation into Theater, and make full use of space, time, and movement in Theater making.
- To foster actors and directors who graduate from the program to create new work both inside and outside of the regional Theater, and help to profoundly change the character and the tone of American theater.
- To graduate students who have a bigger sense of the meaning and value of their work in society and an understanding of the historical precedents that inform their work.
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Program Requirements (50.5 credits)