Whatcom Community College is debuting a new acting for stage and film class in Winter 2020. Whatcom’s drama department offers courses in acting, introduction to theatre and theatre production. Students can take classes such as Drama 101, where they will learn the significance of plays, themes, playwrights and discussing the history of theatre, plots and character developments and the differences between performances from around the globe.
In the classes Acting I and Acting II, students learn what it means to be an actor through exercises, compositions, scene study, improvisations, and movement. They then move on to studying text, character analysis and perform realistic scenes.
The drama department also offers elective classes like theatre production 1 (DRMA 110), where students are involved in creating a major theatrical production. Students will get the opportunity to learn all of the steps that go into putting on a show.
Theatre production I is an open class, meaning there is no capacity and anyone who is interested can join. Students can be involved by being actors, technical help or both. Each of these classes can count towards an Associate’s degree.
“We do things a bit differently here than a lot of programs around the country,” said Garry Large, the Drama Department Head. When auditions happen, they keep in mind that everyone can audition.
The department makes sure to choose plays that are open enough to cast any student who would like to join. They look for someone who can play the role. For comedies, casters look for students who are funny and comedic. For plays that are drama-based, casters look for students who are honest and can handle deep material.
Not all forms of plays are welcomed on Whatcom’s stage. For practical purposes, small cast plays are too difficult to produce when there are many people to delegate roles to.
“I can’t do a show with four people,” said Large. In terms of the type of material, nothing is off-limits. “I mostly look for – are these characters that the 16 to 20-yearold crowd can do,” Large said.
The majority of students who take the class range from 16 to 25 years old. Producers look for plays that are appropriate to the age of the students, along with students’ interests. After a play is chosen, the audition process begins, and once the cast is set, rehearsals begin.
During rehearsals, students will warm up by doing what Large calls “theatre movements” such as shake making, running, dancing and other physical theatre exercises. While rehearsals are happening, props, set pieces, and costumes are being constructed and the lighting is being perfected.
The last steps in the production process are dress rehearsals and technical rehearsals. After that, the show is ready to be debuted.
Students interested in participating in these classes are encouraged to sign up for the next quarter.