stage movement

Upcoming Events and Things and Stuff

I know, lovely lurkers, you’re just plain tired of listening to me apologize for being an infrequent blogger. So I’ll stop doing that. Instead, I’ll be more pro-active and tell you about the things going on in my world.

The three Regis grad students I’m advising, facilitating, and otherwise guiding through various reading and writing projects are about to conclude their sessions. They had some lovely things, including magical realism romance, and analyzing novels in YA literature.

I was movement coordinator for MSU’s The Country Wife, which was a super-enjoyable comedy of manners that the young actors tackled quite well, movement-wise especially, if I do say so myself. I was just chatting with one of the actors the other day, relaying some compliments the SO had given them. I told this student that it’s a pretty impressive feat, to move in that stylized, elegant way (think 1675: wigs, fans, calves, snuff…) when he no doubt just got to his height, what, a couple minutes ago (he had just turned 21)?

I was also, even more recently, brought in to advise the scuffles in Local Theatre Company’s production of The Rape of the Sabine Women by Grace B. Matthias. This is a high quality, tight, and of course timely play that I am delighted to be a part of. The challenge of this one is the thrust stage (audience on 3 sides), and though it’s not exactly realism (there are dreamlike aspects to it), it still needs to have a level of verisimilitude that will insure the audience won’t be jerked out of the story. They open this weekend, here in Boulder at the Dairy Center, so if you’re local, lurkers, go see it!

Finally, it’s burlesque time again in Jenn’s world. That’s right, Bronze Fox Burlesque is taking over one of the little nooks at License no. 1 bar in Boulder on a Wednesday night, this time in a Clue movie theme, in anticipation of Halloween. I’m dancing a solo, a duet, and I get to do one of my favorite Madeline Kahn moments in cinema. Again, if you’re local, come down to see us on the 25th at 9. But these events always get packed, so if you do come to this, get there early.

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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.

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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 please pt. 2

Yes, lovely lurkers, I have taken to begging for students to take the Stage Movement course over at MSU Denver. Well, yanno, it has been cancelled due to underenrollment enough that I feel I need to explain what makes this class such an essential part of a student’s experience at Metro, especially in the Theatre Department.

Here’s the thing: the skills learned in this class don’t only apply to

Don't make this sad clown even sadder. Sign up for Stage Movement.

Don’t make this sad clown even sadder. Sign up for Stage Movement.

the performing arts student. Not at all–actually I’ve had the following diverse folks take this course (beyond the theatre majors, for whom this class is required):

  • a major in accounting
  • a 75-year-old auditing the course for fun
  • an 8th grader interested in the clowning arts
  • a poli-sci major
  • a couple English majors
  • someone who was undecided, who wanted to be able to have good presence in front of a crowd

Recently I have received some advice from an intimate friend in the career reboot department, and I am realizing that these skills are all excellent ones for building my corporate consulting practice. All of these things (body language, vocal work, social status manipulation, presentation skills, etc.) are the difference between a corporate drudgery and a successful businessperson.

 

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.

 

BIFF Review #3: EllieIda

Fringe Fest Review #3: EllieIdaReview by Jenn Zuko

Wow!! 

Okay, so, if I had been teaching my Stage Movement class at this time, I would have demanded, nay, required all my students to witness EllieIda. Why? Because this show, and especially these two actors’ performing this show, epitomize the concept of physical characterization. Let me explain:

Two women perform eight roles in this show. And of those eight, two of them span ages in a way that Ian McKellen’s Sherlock Holmes barely rivals. And the show does not take place in chronological order, oh no. The plot jumps back and forth in time from flashback to silent film slapstick to the two central characters at age 100, drinking and fighting over the remote in a physical way that only very highly trained clowning skill can achieve. What makes this show even more astonishing is the fact that, as an audience, you know each character immediately and thoroughly, not because the two actors change costume and makeup and hair in the blink of an eye, no. Because they both embody each character completely using posture, gesture, facial expression, and voice. In some scenes, each woman plays both the central characters and a third character, switching back and forth in a way that anyone less physically well trained would render confusing as all get out. This audience isn’t confused, though, because the physical characterization is so spot on, we know exactly who we’re looking at, even though the other actor was just playing her literally seconds ago.

image from the Boulder Fringe Fest website.


I’m trying my best, in each show review, to find something that could use improvement. You know, just to be totally honest and not be *that* reviewer that does nothing but glow and rave. I’m having trouble finding something less than positive to say about EllieIda though. Oh wait, I know!: as a stage combat professional and fight director, I do have issue with the use of the full-contact slap to the face. Even in a teensy, intimate space such as the CDC, I never think that the “authenticity” of contact slaps are worth the risk. And yet, having said that, I could see very clearly that neither woman was at all being unsafe, and the slaps did not a) stop the action with being too discombobulating, or b) look fake, with flinches, too-quiet sounds, etc. So. Maybe this is the exception to my slap rule? Naw, I’ll never succumb…..

Bottom line? As you may guess, I absolutely highly recommend EllieIda. If you have to be selective, or miss any of the shows at the Fringe, do not let yourself miss out on this one.

RATING: 5 stars out of 5.

For more of these (and other) performances, go to Boulder Fringe.