Master of the Stage

by Austin Giles

Horizon Reporter

Though the stage of the Syre building is closed up on a typical school day, behind the scenes, Gerry Large’s acting class’s carry on.

“I went to a drugstore to get aspirin and the guy says we don’t have any aspirin,” said one of the actors in a scene being played out in Large’s class. “Weird things have been happening like that all day.”

Upstage, two students at a time take turns working on their scenes. Throughout, the class and Large give notes on what to keep and what to fix in an open forum.

“I really enjoy your character but you’re not moving from the neck down,” said someone in the crowd.

“Let’s just work on that part,” said Large. “Like you’re still paranoid, you’re still looking around.”

“Like a crack head?” asked the actor. “Exactly,” said Large.

From there they go back over the script, tweaking minor things, finding beats in the dialogue, and working with body movement.

Movement is fundamental to Large. His acting 101 class starts on the basis of being comfortable moving on stage, working on tableaus from the vantage point of the audience while creating short pieces together in class.

“They’re always creating something I’ve never seen before,” said Large. The class deals heavily in his favorite style of theater, avant-garde.

Large has studied many styles of theater. He spent three months in Japan studying Noh, an ancient form of Japanese theater. He also spent time studying under Anne Bogart, the creator of view-points for stage acting focusing on space, story, time, emotion, movement, and shape.

Large received his doctorate in theater after going to schools across the country. Originally he set out to be a music major.

This summer he’ll be going back for a visit to New York City, where he lived for five years. While there he was involved with an off-off Broadway theater where he worked and acted.

Large said he is attracted to theater because it is a display of performers doing things that ordinary people can’t do.

He appreciates actors who are “funnier than you can be funny, more dramatic than you can be dramatic,” said Large.

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