This course is the final of the four-semester sequence of BFA/Acting studio coursework, preceded by Studio 1 – Building an Ensemble, Studio 2 – Creating a Role, and Studio 3 – Acting Shakespeare. Leading up to this course, BFA/Acting student performance studio course study has been focused on working in collaboration with other students, crafting a role specific to a given circumstance established in a play, and understanding how to analyze, perform, and discuss the plays of William Shakespeare. This course takes all those skills and areas of knowledge that have been gained in the previous studio course work including collaboration, creating a character and how to approach poetic text into consideration towards the understanding and embodiment of period specific performance. It is an introduction for the student actor in understanding how to approach a play set in another time period. In any play, the performance approach requires a shared agreement in the area of what the actors wear, how they move and speak, and a sense of place. With this in mind, the approach becomes about exploring the shared values of the time period and the performance practices.
In teaching this course, I have found the greatest challenge in the area of guiding students towards a place of confidence and comfort in approaching and ultimately performing in these unfamiliar period style plays. In the past, I have front-loaded the unit performance project with research-based assignments such as studying specific historical elements of the period, knowing influential people and politics of the period, and then presenting findings on this history to the class. However, this experience has not always yielded the desired effects in student performance work - such as a more layered characterization and performance. Due to the length of time spent in this area, it has influenced the depth and value of the performance feedback. Because students are basically learning a whole new set of skills to perform period specific plays, it has become abundantly clear to me that the course requires more time devoted to performance reflection, application of feedback and final response to the work.