Thursday, August 24, 2006

First Day of Classes

Holy cow!

That's all I can say so far. My time here has been a blur, but at the same time I feel like I've been living in Columbia, South Carolina for AGES. Still don't know my way around though, but at least I can get to all the buildings on campus I have anything to do with.

Most of the last week was filled with training meeting after orientation meeting after meet-and-greet session, one right after the other. We met people five hundred thousand times, which is great because I need that in order to actually remember names and stuff. Yesterday there was a little showcase, where all of us first year MFA actors presented our audition monologues to the entire department faculty. There are ten of us in the class, and I have been amazed and humbled by the level of talent that each one of them exhibited in their monologues. I don't know if I'll be able to keep up! I don't know if I can say that I am the worst actor in the group, since thats really difficult to judge, but I'm DEFINITELY the least trained, polished, and professional actor in the bunch. But I suppose that was completely to be expected. Most of them are older and have had a heck of a lot more experience and training. It gives me so much to learn from. I learned more about acting before classes even STARTED than I did in all my time at BYU. OK, so thats a bit of an exageration, but right now it feels like it.

Today was the official first day of classes, and it began with Theater 170, Fundamentals of Acting which I will actually be TEACHING to 18 unfortunate freshman. They are unfortunate not only because they have me as a teacher (who will be learning just as much from these exercises as they will) but also because we have been assigned an obscure, distant, difficult to locate room to hold class in. They were none too thrilled about that, but otherwise they seem ready to go. I have to take attendance, and give them grades, and feedback, and somehow communicate to them what an actor does and, most importantly, why on earth theater or art is important at all in their lives, and I feel a little out of my depth in doing so. But I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Which goes for all my other classes too. We just got out of our core acting class, and my head is spinning. They are going to be challenging. They are going to be physically and intellectually demanding. It's not like GRADES are an issue in acting courses, so I'm not worried about failing. I'm worried about achieving a certain level of proficiency in a very detailed, complicated, and tricky craft. I submit that my graduate training here is going to be as difficult, as time-consuming, as rigorous as ANY other kind of graduate work you can name. So if you thought I was becoming an actor because I'm lazy or because I don't like to work.... well, you're right. I AM lazy and I DON'T like to work, but when it comes to this kind of work, I can't wait to get started and thats exactly why I'm here. I'd rather focus my energy and effort on something that makes me happy and fulfilled than on something that makes me miserable.

My instructors here are talented, excited, and professional. My classmates are amazing, supportive, and inspiring. The weather is hot, humid, and sweaty. Take in the whole picture, and I feel like this is all some kind of crazy dream. My mind is all chaotic and jumbled right now. If I missed anything any of you want to know more about, just send me an e-mail or write a question in the comments.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Brief Update

Just a quick note to let you know the conclusion to my epic journey. I'll write a longer blog later when the dust clears some more. We arrived in Columbia on Sunday night and its been a crazy whirlwind of excitement ever since! My new roommate, we'll call him Jock Actor, or J.A., (since using Blog Names is all the rage now days), seems like somebody I can live with and laugh with, and our new apartment is, surprisingly, very nice considering we didn't have a clue what we were getting when we signed up for it. Somebody let us borrow a TV, somebody else gave us some air mattresses for a while, and we were able to bum a couch from the department. Things are coming together!

I've met everybody in my program now, and they are all absolutely amazing. I've been amazed at how quickly we've been forming bonds. Almost instantaneously, we've become a family in just a few days. We all laugh at each other's jokes and enjoy each other's company. Working with these people for a few years is going to be amazing. The school is really old. The building with the department offices was formerly the fitness center (the scene shop is above where the pool used to be), and way before that the building was a medical center during the civil war (no joke!). The downstairs green room was once the morgue, and there are catacombs beneath the whole structure where confederate soldiers were buried. The campus has lots of statues of Civil War heroes, including one very large one that could give BYU's naked Indian a run for his money: a mostly naked man riding an extremely masculine horse.

It's quite a trip, and I'm enjoying myself immensely. I keep feeling like some kind of mistake was made and I'm not really supposed to be here enjoying this experience, but I'm going to take it for all its worth. I'll update again soon.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Friday, August 11, 2006

Thursday, August 10, 2006