MSU denver

Plea to sign up for Advanced Stage Combat #3

And the central reason in this post, that you should sign up for Advanced Stage Combat at MSU this Fall?

One word: broadswords.

A few years back, the theatre department purchased a bunch of beautiful hand-and-a-half broadswords that are big enough to warrant good broadsword technique, but short and light enough that they’re easy to wield. And the sound they make, clanging together, is diviiiiine…

Thing is, whereas the rapiers are used in the beginning course, and every so often in productions (like, when we do Shakespeare, for example), the broadswords are rarely, if ever, used. So we’re gonna break em out in advanced class. If I can get six more people to sign up, that is.

(The pic below is not class, and not those particular swords, but is an image from my time in the late ’90s as a stunt performer at the Renaissance Festival. It shows how much awesome fun playing w broadswords can be.)

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Advanced Stage Combat

Remember a few months back, when I posted a series of pleas, extolling the virtues of my Stage Movement class, so that students at Auraria campus would sign up for it? I ended up with a good number of students in that one, and now I’m beginning a series of pleas about a new, vastly exciting course.

Well it’s not new, exactly, but the last time it was offered was …. gosh 8 years ago? Is that true? Anyway, suffice to say I wasn’t expecting the good folks in charge at Metro’s Theatre department to ever offer it again. But guess what? This Fall, it’s there, with a real course number and everything. It’s called ADVANCED STAGE COMBAT, and I am pleased as punch to be teaching this again. (At least, I’ll be teaching it if enough people sign up.)

I’m planning on putting up a post dedicated to each of the things about this course I’m most looking forward to, so let’s start with what’s the very first and very last fight scene the Advanced Stage Combat students do: the big group fight scene.

Big group fights are challenging, as there’s more that goes into a 3 person or more fight than just orchestrating pairs. For the first assignment in this course, I have the students do a full-class-member fight scene. One year, it was an 8-person fight. Another year? It was 12. One group set the opening scene of Romeo and Juliet on a pirate ship’s port, including cannons, ladders, “water” and grog along with the biting of the thumbs.

If you’re a student at any of the schools on auraria campus, do sign up for Advanced Stage Combat. I need 12 people to join me, or it’ll get cancelled. Plus, it’s a very unusual thing for an undergraduate program to have this robust a Stage Combat training offered to its theatre students. You’ll see it (sometimes) in MFA programs, but this is something special to have on your undergraduate cv. Take advantage of it.

Musings Upon a New (ish) Semester

Well fuck. 

I use invective, lovely lurkers, with conscience and reason. Why I just used one of the words that would make my movie Rated R in America is that I just saw that the last post on this blog was posted in, like, mid-August. Seriously, what the fuck? Why do you tolerate this kind of behavior from me, huh? Are you all so busy reading Parallel Bars that you can’t be bothered? Can’t say I blame you, truth be told…

So I’m jogging in the reins of Week 4 at both Metro and Front Range, Week 2 of Regis, and the verrrry beginning of Week 1 at DU. And lemme tell ya about the cool shit that’s happening at all those fine institutions (okay, I’m going with this invective thing):

At Metro: I’m teaching that online Staging Cultures course I’ve told you about before. It’s a really good reading list, lovely lurkers. Let me know if you want it. I’m also doing a MW (that’s Monday & Wednesday, kids) Intro to Theatre, which is a delightful gen ed course I haven’t done in a while. Man are those First Year Success students bright eyed and enthusiastically bushy tailed! They’re just about to embark on their historical presentation projects AND their Raisin in the Sun unit, so wow how much good material can we stomach at 11am? A lot, apparently. Youthful energy, I’m tellin ya…

Beginning Stage Combat over at Metro is Friday mornings as is usual, but as is not usual, it’s SO FULL YOU GUYS! There’s, like, 24 or something people in it, and they’re all lovely young talented energetic insane theatre majors and I am having so much fun and getting so old…. They’re just about to start choreographing their Unarmed fights, and I could not be more excited!

At Regis: I have two lovely and talented grad students doing a one on one Writing the Novel course w me; and one other lovely and talented grad student doing my own self-constructed YA Literature course (one on one, natch. It’s nearly always one on one at Regis). It’s going to be some stellar writing, which will only make me wish I had more time to work on my own work….

At Front Range: it’s two evening courses: a Comp I and a Comp II. The former is revising their Mini-Essays as we speak (Er, as I type), and you know what that means! That’s right: the Mini-Essay Contest winner post is imminent! Let’s hope it’s not the next one, as I need to be more frequent than that here….

Comp II as is usual these days for me, functions under a theme of Creativity and Innovation. They just finished their (quite high quality) Elevator Pitches, and now have just been introduced to the Analyzing An Image essay, which is where they pick an ad or psa and analyze it in essay format. Should be some good reading.

And finally,

At DU: Children’s Literature started today! As my ancient, steam-powered laptop decided to become a doorstop recently, it was quite the challenge to get that course shell updated and ready to go for a fresh crop of Professional Writing graduate students. But I am nothing if not diligent. And, yes, I have a lot of work to do still, but hey at least it’s up and functioning, and thanks to the SO, I have a brand spanking new refurbished box I can now use to get everything even more ship-shape. Thanks to that generous soul…

Oh but that’s not all! I also continue to have professional endeavors:

Bronze Fox Burlesque is doing their next show at License no.1 under the loose theme of Clue (the movie) and murder mysteries in general. I am mulling over choreography for a duet and a new solo right now…

Metro is doing The Country Wife in a couple weeks, a ribald comedy of no manners at all, and I am consulting the period movement as well as choreographing and directing a raucous chick fight with fans. And maybe fisticuffs.

I’m still writing for Parallel Bars and Your Boulder, editing the SO’s spectacular new book, and I’m just now starting to think I could remount my Retro Reviews of Sherlock, over on Sherlock’s Home, now the 4th season is far enough away…..

So.

Megan shows my Intro students the ropes. Literally.

Hm.

I guess there’s a reason it’s taken me so long to post here. Yeah, well. NO FUCKING EXCUSES, AMIRITE?

Ahem. Carry on….

Not that I’m on a break now or anything…

…but the peeps that are finished with their semesters, I have finished as well. Finally. As I said, lots and lots and lots (and lots) of research papers. I just might (might, mind you) have a half a handle on the new 8th edition of MLA format at this point. Might.

18582290_10155432990898028_6479972419694655595_nWhat else is on my plate? Well, I presented at the Teaching and Learning With Technology conference over at Front Range yesterday, which was pretty fun. Had a good, inquisitive audience that had more questions afterwards and cornered me at other sessions and stuff too. It was called “Video Killed the Paper Star” and covered a few innovative ways that assigning videos to students in lieu of papers can be a fruitful endeavor. I may do a little mini-article about it here, so stay tuned. Anyway, got to share a bunch of those grammar videos you’ve seen here, and some old reading responses in video form, especially Nate’s old ones from Advanced Stage Combat back in the day. His were so creative and thoughtful and it made me miss all you Stage Combat Club guys: Nate and Scott and Nick and Chris, Paul, and Geri, and the others that came in and out…(sniff)…

I also went to the opera recently with The S.O. and I was amused to find that I knew exactly where all those swords were from, and mused that they all needed a little coaching as far as handling them went (fight scenes though there were none). I also was shocked at the rust that has somehow coated my Schmooze Nozzle, which I guess goes to show that if you don’t use it, you lose it. So I’m polishing my charisma these days. If you run into me, force me to give you an  elevator pitch or something, would ya? Help me get back in shape.

Writing wise, I’m still doing stuff for YourBoulder.com, mainly their weekend round up thingies. It’s a fun gig, and a paid one, so I’m happy about that. The other blog I’m writing with The S.O. is also a very fulfilling project–it’s a style of personal writing I’m not super familiar with, but the pieces there are really, really good. It’s nice to have a quasi-journalling habit again, and him being such a good writer himself, it’s also nice to have a high bar to have to live up to. Write up to. You know what I mean…

Now I do have one breath before the new wave of stuff begins. During that deep breath, I will still be working closely with DU folks on their Capstones, and also working with a new batch of Regis peeps too: Children’s Lit, Editing Fiction, and Editing Non-Fiction is on my platter there.

After I take the breath, it’ll be time for summer at FRCC (two Comp 1 courses) and at Boulder_FringeMetro (an online Staging Cultures class). It’ll also be time for the first summer theatrical gigs to begin: early June I’ll be dancing with Boulder Burlesque, mid-June I may be dancing with Bronze Fox Burlesque, and late June is Denver Comic Con, where I will be presenting The Fight is the Story again, but I’ll keep you up on those things when we get closer to time. After that, I’ve got stage combat at the LDT and burlesque at the Fringe Fest to look forward to, amidst who knows indeed what else will pop up.

So there you go: the update on the workload. Now back to it.

Sign up for Stage Movement–Final Plea

This is the last time I’ll bug ya on this blog to sign up for Stage Movement over at Metro. It’s a fantastic class that I really want to teach (let alone it being my livelihood), because it’s such an experience and heck, as good as I am at teaching Comp, really, theatrical movement is my specialty and particular expertise, so taking this course is an even more immersive and fascinating experience than that of me trying to make Comp I palatable.

Here’s the info again:

THE 3220 Stage Movement. Meets 8-10:50am on Fridays Spring semester, and it’s a Theatre department class at MSU Denver. If you’re a registered student at MSU, UCD, or CCD, you can sign up. If you’re not, audit it.

commedia

The commedia dell’arte spontaneously concocted plays in Stage Movement. A tableau of one that allows you to see exactly which stock characters they are.

Please Sign up for Stage Movement: Part 4

Today’s plea for those of you who can, to take my Stage Movement class at Metro, surrounds the class blog.

Those of you who have taken any class with me knows that I assign blogging as a venue for reading responses. Stage Movement is no different: I have the reading responses due to one all-class blog, as well as any performance reviews and video analyses, etc. The blog is here, and you can see several semesters’ worth of students are still authors on it, which makes it a very cool artifact of course material that they can still access if they like (or even continue to add to).

One big advantage to having a public blog for much of the course work is that it opens up the classroom beyond ARTS 271 in Denver, to the entire world of the professional field in study. This post in particular shows what a good thing technology can be when it’s used well. I couldn’t a) afford to fly Jeff out here from New York to be a guest speaker; and b) couldn’t rig his aerial silks in our classroom if I did. Because of our use of a blog, though, the students could not only see his work in progress, but as you can see if you read the comments, actually interact with him as a professional in the field in which they’re studying.

And here’s a homework post from the clowning unit that you might enjoy.

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The pale green pants with nobody inside them were spotted after the last meeting of the last class, disposed of with ceremony….

Stage Movement Class: sign up plz part 3

This post is all about Sheridan’s Comedy of Manners called The Rivals.

I teach this play in a Period Movement unit, to help students learn about social status gestures, posture for vintage plays, and how to navigate things like corsets and ties and breeches, oh my. All this restricted physicality marries with mastery of complex language, and the classic clowning kernel of: The Conflict Between Mask and Appetite.

Here is a small gallery of only some of the Rivals performances from Spring semesters past:

rivals1

…when the servant is more learned than the mistress…

rivals2

I have always enjoyed the cobbled-together, haphazard costumes that inevitably happen during this unit, but these two gentlemen took the cake.

rivals3

When I mentioned to this class the possibility of cross-gender-casting Mrs. Malaprop? Fugeddaboutit. 

 

Stage Movement Class–Sign Up plz!

Because I am staring down the barrels of a very thin Spring semester, the multiple schools at which I teach having given me fewer courses than usual (which translates to less income for me), I feel the need to remind my MSU Denver students that a very important course is being offered this Spring that not only is required for your graduation (as a theatre major), but is also incredibly vital as far as teaching you important skills for being the most versatile, talented performer out there.

Because I’m afraid this course is going to get cancelled due to low enrollment again, I thought I’d begin a series of blog posts about the course, to encourage you all to sign up. My first post in this vein is to show you a showcase of the final exam of the course, which is a performance of an adaptation of some Dr. Seuss stories I crafted for theatrical production.

The video below is a compilation of several Stage Movement final performances, plus the second professional performance of the show back in 2000, all clipped up and mushed together.

What this final does is it combines the many skills learned in the course into one ensemble performance: physical characterization, mime, clowning, vocal/physical conditioning, strength and flexibility conditioning, falling and rolling, creating sets/characters/worlds using only physicality, character creation from the outside in, and working with technically complex scripts.

Enjoy this reel, and sign up for THE 3220: Stage Movement this spring.

Seuss Celebration from Jenn Zuko on Vimeo.