Theater Conservatory Confidential: In The Beginning

Elijah Diamond reports on his first two weeks of classes at NYU.

College: the final frontier.

On September 4th, I began the non-party/crazy element of this adventure the only way I could: by being half asleep during a lecture from my studio. The lecture covered most of what I had already read that previous summer in The Practical Handbook for the Actor: the basis for Atlantic Acting School’s technique, referred to as “Practical Aesthetics”, was something I was all too familiar with. The two and a half hour lecture delivered to us served to only bore me and cause me to want to jump forward with my studies, hopefully by going straight away into scene work.

Unfortunately though, this did not seem to be the case, as instead of going into studio right away, I was forced to do my other courses. My first class, “Introduction to Theatre Studies”, promised to be challenging, incredibly interesting, and fun… so I decided to transfer out. It’s my first semester freshman year. I am way too busy trying to figure out what direction is which in New York to focus on the subtleties represented in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Later that day, I had “Writing the Essay: Art and the World”, a class in which I learned how to write essays, for the eighty-sixth time. So far, college classes were not what I expected, what with the emphasis being more on academia, and less on my art.

This changed quickly though on Thursday, my first legitimate day of studio. My classes in studio focus on all different aspects of Practical Aesthetics. The majority of my classes are physical work. Movement and Alignment are meant to make me more comfortable with my body, and also to help my posture, which, if any of you know me, is like a crazy straw. Alignment quickly became “Hey class, this is what’s wrong with your classmate Elijah’s body”, but I did not mind. The fact that the teacher decided to focus his attention on me meant that I’ll be getting more personal work done. So yay for that. Movement was more basic work outs, which made my body more sore than I expected. My arms still hurt from Tuesday, and that’s quite a feat, given my bulging biceps. (On the topic of my fitness, I’ve already gained my freshman 15, but that’s a tragic story for another day).

Voice and Speech have been very hand in hand so far this semester, with Voice being more concerned with breathing and tension, and Speech focusing more on phonetics. Both classes are incredibly fun and relaxing. The final two classes I have (besides Games, but Games does not count, because it’s Games) are Script Analysis and Performance Technique, which are focused intensely on teaching us the basics of Practical Aesthetics, and how to apply them to basic scenes. In Performance Technique, I was called upon to work one of the basic scenes, and discovered I have a slight emotional block that we are going to try to work through this year. In Script Analysis, we’ve been working more on the specifics of the scenes, one of the more… interesting ones we wrote as a class:

Aaron: This was our table.
Taylor: Do we really want this?
Aaron: It always seems to come back to this.
Taylor: Heads or Tails?
Aaron: You haven’t changed.
Taylor: Things aren’t always as they seem.

I feel myself becoming a better artist already.