Welcome. We are students in Communications 218, a journalism class at Lehman College. Our classroom is in Room 122. This course is part of the Summer Arts Festival of College Now, a program designed to help high school students earn college credits. Every day, we report and write articles about our program, the school and the neighborhood.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Access Granted
By Zorana Kesar, Joshua Brooks, Gallia Kassiano, Rachel Sanchez

“See Me”
These were the bright and powerful words that stood out against the black background of the stage. They came alive as each actor delivered his or her monologue in the Lovinger Theatre. The monologues, which touch upon real teenager issues, such as drugs, pregnancy, poverty, and violence, went hand-in-hand with the words graffitied on the stage; each was an aspiration for which the kids were striving.

The young actors’ confidence was very apparent even when mini-crises, such as forgotten lines and raspy voices, arose. While most amateurs would quickly run off stage or stand still and stammer, these kids, who have little or no acting experience, brushed off their mistakes and kept performing.

The director, Professor Brian Doyle, contributed to the flow of the monologue performances by giving suggestions on how to move about the stage and interact with fellow actors. Laid-back, Professor Doyle observed the performances from a distance, giving the occasional instruction, “Pick it up where you left off.”

One of the things that enhanced the monologues, giving them flair, was the simple yet authentic stage design. Props included a cell phone, CD player, and handbag – necessities that teens today can’t seem to live without. For these troubled characters, these gadgets are often the only source of comfort.

The cultural diversity amongst the actors appeals to a wide audience, one that is not only black and white, but everything in-between. The body language, the range of accents, and wild hand gestures grab the audience’s attention.

Even with an empty theatre, dimmed lights, and no make up, the monologue performances showcased the actors’ talents. We can only expect that the opening night on August 10th will be a packed house with a standing ovation.


The Director’s Cut
By Zorana Kesar, Joshua Brooks, Gallia Kassiano, Rachel Sanchez
From throwing newspapers onto front lawns, to grading papers for his theatre class, Brian Doyle, professor of theatre at Lehman College and director of the upcoming play “Kids Don’t Come with Instruction Manuals,” written and performed by College Now students, has come a long way from his small hometown in Wisconsin.
Growing up in a close knit environment, Professor Doyle enjoyed a great deal of personal freedom. But someone was always keeping an eye out for him, even if it were just the neighbors calling his mother to say, “Brian is throwing rocks at the church windows.”
In his adolescence, Professor Doyle aspired to be a poet, but quickly gave that up because “There aren’t a lot of nine-to-five jobs in poetry and so I got into theatre.” Doyle described himself as a shy person who took advantage of the drama class to meet girls. What came out of this experience was a newfound passion for theatre and directing.
Professor Doyle went on to graduate from the University of Wisconsin at Plattville, the name of which he jokingly spelled out when interviewed. He then attended the University of Utah at Salt Lake City for his graduate degree. It was here that he met Dr. David Jones, a very gifted and passionate teacher, who taught Doyle that “the words we say have an impact not only on other people, but on ourselves also.”
Professor Doyle’s first teaching experience also came about during his graduate school years. He remembers being “sort of a smart aleck about it.” He sat down in the classroom amongst the students, waited for everyone to get there, and then introduced himself. Reflecting on his overzealous attitude at the moment, Professor Doyle said, “It was probably a dumb thing to do, but it broke the ice…it made them realize that I was learning too.”
After teaching at Marymount College in Tarrytown for several years, Professor Doyle made his way to Lehman College. Over the years at Lehman, Doyle has directed different dramatic genres, but finds that he “has a flair for comedy.” The last work he directed was a night of Shakespeare last summer with the College Now Program, for which he expressed great joy.
As for the College Now Program, in which he has taught for four years, Doyle says teaching high school students has proved to be a different experience. Unlike some of his college students, high school students “tend to be very disciplined about their work.” Slightly grinning, Professor Doyle commented on the fact that college students often hand in assignments late due to their busy schedules.
“I mostly enjoy my job,” Professor Doyle said. “There are no obstacles, only opportunities,” he said jokingly, but he does acknowledge that there are various obstacles to overcome globally. “I don’t think enough money is being spent for education and I think there’s a great expectation for teachers to do more with less.”
The typical day for Professor Doyle, he says, can be summed up in five words: “there is no typical day.” But a daily routine begins with making coffee, preparing a class lesson and feeding his cats – two white Persians named Jasper and Juniper. He then goes to teache a class and might direct a play until the late afternoon or early evening. His hobbies include gardening, bicycling and reading, but “I don’t work with power tools.”
The future holds new events for Professor Doyle. He hopes to gain tenure at Lehman College and in order to do so, he is in the process of getting published. He wants to “branch out” in writing and directing. His final words to a group of reporters, delivered in his characteristically comedic manner, were, “Well, I hope you’ll come and see the show!”
Behind the Scenes

August 4, 2005 Lehman college- It’s nearly 11:00 a.m. and members of the Visual Elements class of the College Now program seem both calm and restless as their classmates present their projects. The students have created collages that represent the costumes and personalities of the characters in the production of “Kids Don’t Come with Instruction Manuals” a play that will be performed by the students of the Theatre class. The presentations seem to drag on and one student is even sleeping in the back of the class.

CUT! Let’s fast forward to the afternoon session of the class. The students sit in the Lovinger Theatre and watch as the actors do a run-through of the performance. The students have been told to make mental notes of how certain characters should be dressed, how their make-up should look, and flaws in the run-through.

All summer and this is all they are doing?? The truth is that the students have actually been experimenting with make-up and design all summer, creating burns, scars, bruises, and learning the basics of stage make-up, practicing applying the make up on each other and on the actors. However, as the production draws closer, their main focus has been to incorporate all of their work and practice with the Theatre class and its production.

In the Visual Elements class, many students found themselves learning things that they did not realize were considered a part of make-up in theater. Throughout the weeks of the program, the class has learned how make-up is more than lipstick and powder. “We learned how to use stage make-up, how we can create different things like making masks and using blood, doing burns and bruises, scars and all that and we learned how to, like, use it on the actors,” said one student.

The class has been very hands-on. They’ve spent most of the time practicing, as opposed to studying. “Make-up is acquired by applying it and playing with it,” says Professor Osnat Greenbaum. “By doing it again and again not by me standing in front of you and talking about it. That is obvious to everybody.”

Along with learning the mechanical skills needed for the visual elements, such as creating burns and masks, the students also learned that patience is needed as well, and that in theater, acting is not the biggest part.

“I learned that theater is not just for actors there’s a lot of people that work for the production as well like make up people, the writing people and a whole bunch of stuff,” says Ana, a girl from the class.

The Visual Arts class has changed a lot, especially with their feelings about the class. Jermain Cameron, the only boy in the class, said earlier in an interview that he had taken this class since he did not want to really do any hard work. Now, when asked how he felt about the whole experience, he said “Well I feel like I have gained more information about make-up, I don’t feel funny putting it on my face and its natural and it’s not only for girls.”

“It’s a lot of work,” another student added. “I never thought it was so much work, it’s a lot of work you got to do research, you got to make sure everything is perfect to the detail, you have to know not just your own work but everyone else’s, in case they are not there. Its just too much. You just have to have lot of patience for that.”

“I learned that theater is not just for actors, there are a lot of people who work for the production as well as make-up people, the writing people and a whole bunch of stuff,” said Anna, another member of the class.

Over the summer, the Visual Elements class has been working in coordination with the Theater class on the upcoming production of “Kids Don’t Come with Instruction Manuals” for the Summer Arts Festival. They read the script and observed the manner in which the actors will be performing, so they can have a better understanding of characters for visual purposes. Visual Elements students have been practicing diligently and they’re looking forward to testing their newfound skills in the big show. The show, which will be the first of such for many of these youngsters, should be a night to remember for these teens for years to come.


Blogger mistergreer said...

zorana, gallia, and rachel:
it's so cool reading all of your blogs!they're smart and engaging, and it's clear you're having a great time and learning a lot this summer.

it was great to see you all yesterday at lehman.

I'm proud of you guys.


11:18 AM

Blogger MutedDragon said...

the calm are those who already presented. the restless are those still nervous, awaiting their turn. the student sleeping sleeps in many of the classes. and some students are proud of their work! Also, there is no 'Ana' or 'Anna' in the class. -m.d.-

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