Beginner theater class at CMC helps students express themselves
January 17, 2010
Steamboat Springs — On a Thursday afternoon in Bristol Hall, eight or so CMC students and beginning actors stood in the middle of a circle, centered themselves, exploded and collapsed.
An exercise in focusing energy, letting go of any element of embarrassment and becoming something they aren't — in this case, that something being exploded — the students in Michael Brumbaugh's introduction to acting class at Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus put their all into making their play-deaths look real.
It's been a few years since acting has been part of the arts class offerings at CMC, Brumbaugh said. In the class — which started Tuesday and already had grown by about four students Thursday — Brumbaugh hopes to create an atmosphere of trust where students can act without feeling like they're being judged, he said.
"I want them to feel comfortable and be able to get up in front of a group of people," and tell stories "through their voices and through their bodies," Brumbaugh said.
The goal is to expose students to the elements of theater and various stages for actors and to teach them basic acting techniques and drama lessons, he said. Each week, the students are required to identify a photo from a running Broadway play, and their homework assignments in the first week had to do with stage actors and productions.
The class of about 16 students includes high school students taking the class for college credit; CMC students taking the class to fulfill an interest in acting and an elective requirement; and one slightly older class member taking acting while finishing a remote degree from the University of Iowa.
That student, Mical Hutson, said she had never tried acting and always regretted not participating in plays or other theater when she was younger. A photographer and a writer, Hutson said she hopes to add another art form to her repertoire with the class.
A Steamboat Springs resident, Hutson found out about the class from Brumbaugh, whom she worked with as volunteer coordinator in a recent community theater production of the dark comedy "Kimberly Akimbo."
"I've never done anything like it. It's a new experience," Hutson said.
Colleen Treanor, a second-year CMC student who studied musical theater during her time at Mesa State College, said she sees the class as a chance to get back into theater, a world she's loved since acting in plays as a child.
With a busy 15-credit schedule this semester, Treanor uses the acting class as a chance to let go and have a creative outlet, she said. Two classes into the semester, Treanor was looking forward to tapping back into her acting skills and having fun doing it.
Brumbaugh said some of the high school students might remember him from a year as the theater teacher at Steamboat Springs High School in 2007-08.
For all the students, Brumbaugh hopes to teach acting as an art form close to the human experience, he said, giving them the confidence to know themselves well enough to become someone else.