Acting Focus Group Meeting Friday, July 31, 2015 and Sunday, August 2, 2015
Miriam Mills and Jeanne Leep led the meetings, and Marjorie Gaines recorded notes as secretary.
The Friday, July 31 meeting began with all participants signing in and introducing themselves to the assembled group. Carin Silkaitis raised a question about how to receive emails from the Acting Focus Group. Lionel Walsh explained that we all have to sign and register for specific focus group emails on the ATHE website; Miriam Mills reminded us all to make sure we have joined the Acting Focus Group on the ATHE website.
Alicia Tafoya has been our “media guru’ and we need someone to take over this position. Laura Rikard said she would consider doing this, and meet with Alicia to find out more about what the position entails.
Hillary Bucs and John Kaufmann are our new co-conference chairs in preparation for the 2016 conference in Chicago, August 11 - 14.
MIriam asked for conference workshop and panel ideas from the meeting participants for the 2016 conference. The responses were as follows:
The subject of showcases was proposed as a workshop. Carin Silkaitis, Jane Brody, Maria Cominis, and Chris O’Conner were interested in working on this.
Lional Walsh is interested in leading a workshop on Fantastic Realism including elements of supernatural, mythology, and architecture. Stephanie French is also interested in this in relation to Michael Chekhov work.
Lesley-Ann Timlick mentioned that she had many submissions this year on Michael Chekhov work and integration for the Adjudicated Acting Exercises.
Jane Brody suggested a workshop on improvisation as a rehearsal technique as well as for script exercises. She also mentioned having a panel on Chicago Long Form Structures.
Chris Ceraso brought up pursuing a dance and actor training crossover. Permission from both groups is needed for this multi-discipline proposal.
Part of the theme for the 2016 conference will be “ATHE at 30” but Miriam reminded us our workshops are more than just in support of a theme.
Jane Brody brought up teaching a 1 1/2 day pre-conference proposal with Stephanie French on neuroscience, mythology, and new Stanislavsky work, using and exploding myths. David Kaye is familiar with Jane and Stephanie’s work, and was very supportive of this suggestion.
Ryan McKinney suggested a workshop or panel on acting texts - using them, or not - and assembling course packages of books/materials.
Ed Simone suggested mask work, which would require a mirrored space; Dave Rzeszutek was also interested.
Marjorie Gaines suggested a workshop and/or panel on teaching theatre artists to also be able to use or teach the skills & strategies of theatre as pedagogy/ learning skills. This would expand the ability of our students to make a living in the arts their entire lives. Tamara Meneghini, Jennie Pardoe,Stephanie Breinholt, Chris Ceraso, Peter Zazzali, Margarette Joyner, and Kathleen Sills were interested in pursuing this. Marjorie will contact them to plan this proposal.
Training actors to participate in applied theatre models was also suggested as a focus, since this would also prepare them for good paying acting jobs; Carin Silkaitis said she has some ideas on this suggested proposal, as did David Kaye.
Laura Rikard suggested how to help acting students understand their casting “type,” especially body type, and how to help them maintain a healthy attitude. She suggested a discussion of tactics that would be effective, including professor kindness and thoughtfulness. How far do we sell out to the idea of type? Gary Bolen, Layle Chambers, and Jane Brody - who has also been a casting director and was on a panel addressing this - are also interested.
Alicia Tafoya mentioned that this subject of type would also interest other ATHE focus groups, and outreach would be appropriate. Fabio Polanco, Suzy Devore, Dave Rzeszutek, John Berst, and Margaret Joyner were also interested in pursuing this important topic.
Maria Cominis is interested in finding plays with roles for older women as part of a second installment of the How to Stay Visible in a Youth Centric Arena panel in Montreal. She will reach out to the playwrights group to pursue this. Lionel Walsh said that French Canada has a wealth of plays for women worth looking into.
Jane Brody is interested in finding plays inclusive of the cultures and backgrounds of her students that are not just about oppression. She is looking for scripts that work for her scene study classes.
Jeanne Leep brought up the subject of assessment - how do we assess the learning or progress of our students in a way that satisfies the requirements of our universities? Lionel Walsh discussed his experience with outcome based education in acting with proposed graduate outcomes. Marjorie Gaines mentioned that Travis Malone has created assessment materials that he covered in the 2014 Scottsdale ATHE pre-conference. Stephanie asked that we consider how to make assessment a positive transition tool instead of a burden.
Rose Burnett Bonczek proposed a panel that would focus on how to deal with technology in the classroom.
It was suggested that there be a panel on how scholar practitioners write about their theatre practice. Another panel suggested was on Actors Working on New Plays.
Patrick Dizney suggested a panel on strategies for working with millennials; Jeanne was also interested.
John Kaufmann suggested a discussion on active ways to approach first rehearsals.
Hillary Bucs liked Jane Brody’s suggestion that we have workshops on improvisation, especially since we will be in Chicago with a wealth if improvisation specialists. Miriam suggested a pre-conference on comedy and improvisation with the Directing Focus Group. Dennis Schebetta mentioned that Chicago also has a wealth of playwrights working on new plays we should consider. Miriam asked the group if we still wanted to do a pre-conference with the Directing Focus Group, and the response was positive.
David Kaye suggested having perhaps four improv or comedy sessions throughout the conference, but it would be a problem unless they were multi-discipline. Lesley-Ann Timlick suggested having both a pre and post conference session, as Jane Brody and Stephanie French’s proposed pre-conference would take a full 1 1/2 days. David Kaye said that this Chicago conference is the perfect time to experience Jane’s workshop as well will be on her turf in Chicago.
It was decided that Lesley-Ann Timlick will again work on the Adjudicated Acting Exercises along with Maria Cominis, Dennis Schebetta, and Fabio Polanco, and they will put the call out to all of us for submissions.
Alicia Tofoya mentioned that Tufts has a faculty opening.
PACE has a new journal, METHODS, looking for article submissions, as is THE PLAYERS JOURNAL; Hillary Bucs told us it is online.
The deadline for the 2016 conference proposals is November 1, 2015.
The Sunday, August 2 meeting began with Laura Rikard, who has agreed to be our media guru, asking that we all “like” our ATHE Acting Focus Group Facebook page. We can use the Facebook page to promote workshops and hopefully have a better turn-out for the workshops presented by our own Acting Focus Group.
Ruis Woertendyke spoke to us about the new journal from PACE - METHODS - and asked for submissions. He mentioned that the style was to be in Chicago rather than MLA, and we expressed enthusiasm for a return to MLA if possible.
Stephanie French spoke to the group again about the pre-conference she would like to teach with Jane Brody. It would be inclusive of the exploration of super scenes, archetypes, late Stanislavsky, active analysis, less table work, and psycho-physical training.
There was some concern that just two people would be presenting for a full 1 1/2 days, but the point was raised that the pre-conference was created so that we could work in depth - narrow and deep rather than wide and just touching upon a variety of ideas.
Bringing in I Olympics for at least one workshop was mentioned as something we should definitely pursue, hopefully with the directing group. The Annoyance Theatre Company was also mentioned. We will have to check with Kelly Howe about permission and funds.
Lionel Walsh and Peter Zazzali want to work together on a learning outcomes workshop for 2016.
Lionel Walsh and Fabio were asked to present a workshop in 2016 on Michael Chekhov work.
There was a consensus that we want more people on their feet to demonstrate the strategies that are discussed on panels - perhaps including the participants in role-play.
Hillary Bucs said she would like to see a workshop where more warm-up exercises were presented and shared, and John Kaufmann mentioned that might go along with his suggestion for early rehearsal strategies.
Drama therapy and the topic of dealing with mental health issues was also brought up as a possible focus for 2016.
We all said good-bye until next year. Jeanne Leep is now Chair; Marjorie Gaines will continue as Secretary.