Theater course offers new freedom in classroom
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 02:09
Upon entering Brandeis, I quickly was made aware of one of the most popular classes in the Theater department called, “THA 132A; The Collaborative Process.”
As it is an upper-level theater class, however, I never imagined that I’d actually have the opportunity to enroll in the course.
Luckily, I was incorrect, and I had the privilege to take the course last semester.
Having the chance to work with the incredible Prof. Adrianne Krstansky (THA), as well as an unbelievably talented group of fellow students, is an experience I will never forget.
Offered every year, “The Collaborative Process” is both a credit-bearing theater course and a unique and highly personal experience for students at Brandeis.
It is rooted in students working together to produce mini-performances that require exploration of the students’ lives as well as issues in the world.
The preparation time allotted to these shows varies between projects, but will typically range from a week to just a few days.
They are then presented in front of the class. Some examples of the work we did last semester involved discovering and delving into our inner circus freak, illustrating our favorite artist with objects that call upon all five senses and showing a journey someone might go through, especially during college.
At the beginning of the semester, the class is made aware that these projects will take a tremendous amount of dedication: emotionally, mentally and physically.
There is also a mutual understanding established, that each member of each group will devote as much time as it takes to craft a worthwhile theatrical product.
Each assignment has very specific guidelines which must be addressed. All of these are utilized in order to create characters of great depth who come together to craft poignant scenes of varying lengths.
Fortunately, Krstansky reassures each student that even if a project is not completely finished or perfected by the day it is due, it is the time and effort put into the work by each member of the group which matters the most.
Her guidance and gentle encouragement are also a core reason why “The Collaborative Process” is such a unique and special course at Brandeis.
This class is very different from many others at Brandeis because not only is it truly about using your imagination, but it is also about working with other students to make very special pieces of art.
Although Krstansky teaches the class, she predominately acts as an observer who will provide insight on the way the class should progress only when necessary.
Otherwise, she puts a lot of faith in her students to solve problems which arise in the course on their own.
Having that kind of trust put into your hands is a nerve-wracking, yet exhilarating, experience which can’t be found in many other courses at Brandeis.
My own personal experiences in the course were extremely positive because we were given so much freedom within each piece.
We were able to interpret the guidelines for each assignment however we wanted, even if that meant directing towards our own interests.
For example, one project asked us to set our piece in a “classic movie,” however, each group could decide what a “classic movie” meant to them.
(My group chose Mary Poppins for ours!)
We also were not restricted in the spaces in which we performed pieces, as each project allowed for us to scout out buildings on campus for an ideal location.
In fact, the last project of the semester, technically the “final” for the course, led my group all the way to the pool in the Joseph M. Linsey Sports Center.
As we had conceived a piece with a Greek mythology undertone, we felt that the pool best captured the essence of an “underworld.”
With the permission of the Athletics department, my fellow group members and I brought our class all the way to the pool, where I and several other girls proceeded to jump into the water, fully clothed in long, flowing dresses.
The pool was a more realistic environment for the project to take place in then we could have ever found within a classroom or on a stage.
Having the liberty to make that choice is a unique privilege of this class.
Even though this course does require the consent of the professor to enroll, anyone, regardless of their major or minor, can attempt to take the class.
The course is also evolving with time.
This semester, the class is composed of both graduate and undergraduate students.
This change gives the class the potential to form a new and thrilling dynamic, as the students will have a wider variety of theatrical and personal experiences.
They can bring these new experiences to their projects, thus allowing for new interpretations of the projects than those from years past.
This is a course where every individual must give even more than 100 percent to make the experience worthwhile.
If you are prepared to invest a lot of yourself, this will be a class that resonates with you, long after it ends.