The curtain opens—students with sticks slash and dance with their blades as they perfect the art of stage combat; two friends converse in French and Russian accents, respectively, despite only having ever spoken English before. A boy walks out of the classroom with a script of his own making while his girlfriend wanders the halls with what appears to be a third-degree burn.
These students had the opportunity to visit Howard Community College (HCC) for a Theatre Arts field trip. Among the workshops available to choose from, improv, script-writing, and even the technical aspects of the stage—from makeup to blocking and choreography—were filled with Howard County students enjoying the chance to hone their skills.
“My favorite part was being able to see a lot of my friends from [other schools], and also being able to go to a lot of really cool workshops with trained people, and people you wouldn’t normally see in a normal high school,” Cameron Goodwin-Schoen, senior, commented. He went on to jokingly state that his least favorite part of the trip had been the lunch.
The morning began with a performance by All-County Improv (ACI), showcasing a variety of fun, easy-to-play improv games that had the entire audience cracking up. Afterward, the students headed to their first and second workshops, each lasting an hour and twenty minutes. During lunch, students could relax, and talk with their friends around the entrance as they consumed sandwiches, chips, and cookies. As soon as that ended, they went toward their third and final workshop of the day. Finally the students watched two scenes from a play. There were many workshops at the field trip, including stage combat (hand and sword), acting lessons, audition prep, stage makeup, lessons on accents, and countless others.
Goodwin-Schoen, one of the members of ACI, was proud of him and his fellow members, “It’s an improv show,” he said. “We meet Tuesdays at Wilde Lake, and we just practice games and different skills. I think we did really well—the audience was laughing most of the time. On stage, it isn’t thinking about what to say next. It’s acting on your instinct.”
Roger Riggle, the make-up director, has helped with the play’s at Atholton Mr. Rosen, Atholton’s drama teacher. He followed up by stating that Riggle coordinates the makeup at Field of Screams, so he knows a lot about special effects makeup.” Rosen ended with, “People walking around with half of a zombie face on was pretty interesting.”
The devised theater workshop put on a unique scene, that had no speaking. One of the actors in the workshop was Goodwin-Schoen.
“We learned about different ways to devise theater, whether it is using motion, using a writing technique or using puppetry, or using different things to develop character. We then performed [the scene] at the end.” Goodwin-Schoen stated. Many students liked the performance; one student—Victor Dimitrov, junior— thought the way the actors expressed their emotion was amazing.
One of Dimitrov’s workshops, acting for the camera, had an entertaining twist. They had a scenario from a show that has won six time Emmy award, and more than five times as many nominations. They recreated a scene from Law and Order, a show about detectives trying to solve murders.
The British RP and Cockney accent workshop had the kids putting on rap battle using Shakespearean insults like calling their friend a “craven, boil-brained bugbear,” or a “yeasty, beef-headed applejohn.” The makeup workshop had several people walking around while wearing their costumes. This included a third-degree burn or looking like an 80-year-old, but what else can you expect from a master of their art like Riggle.
Before leaving, HCC treated the schools to a preview of the upcoming Spring play—The Burn, playing from January 1st to February 2nd. Written by Phillip Dawkins and directed by Fatima Quander, the play is a modern re-telling of The Crucible. The story revolves around a high school production of The Crucible, Mercedes is considered an outsider, and Tara makes sure she knows it. When they are put together for the play. Massive bullying happens in real life and online. “ This new play explores what happens to a teacher and his students when a classroom conflict turns into an online witch-hunt.”
“It seemed like a really interesting show, the student and teacher was really well done, and I really liked the dynamic, the monologue prior to that was also really well done,” Goodwin-Schoen explained, “I enjoyed his delivery, and maybe it is something I would like to go see.”
This trip has happened for years, a new generation of students enjoying this worthwhile excursion.
Many students had recommendations for new workshops, such as a workshop on playwriting. Others thought that an already existing workshops could use some work, Aeris Tepper, freshman, thought that the Performing Shakespeare workshop should actually allow the students to act out Shakespeare. They only did acting exercises using line from his plays, though she did still think the activities were fun.
The trip was filled with tears of both joy and sadness. At the end of the day, everyone had a blast and also got to learn lots about the industry they may be in for the rest of their lives.