Acting Shakespeare

Dec 2017

Do NOT take this course - at least not while Elizabeth Hess teaches it. The title and course description suggest an in-depth look at Shakespeare and the different techniques that can be employed in the modern day performance of it. This is misleading and deceptive. Not only is there absolutely no structure, but there is also very little actual instruction regarding Shakespeare given. Elizabeth disregards the syllabus completely, giving vague descriptions of assignments, and then getting upset when students fail to meet the specific aspects she demands. It is not only frustrating, but also anxiety-inducing. It is clear that she is a new instructor in the department, as the concept of grading is lost on her. Despite turning in multiple typed assignments as well as performing scenes, we received NO GRADES the entire semester. This is a four hour per week class, and two of the hours are spent on frivolous "exercises" that bear no semblance to Shakespeare or even really performing in general. I am familiar with the concept of theatre warm-ups and exercises and believe that those are quite beneficial, but the "exercises" done in Elizabeth's class are certainly not these and prove to be a waste of time. Elizabeth herself creates a rather unprofessional and unwelcoming environment for performance. She frequently asks actors to do things that they are clearly not comfortable with, and makes an alarming number of sexual comments throughout every single class. This course, in theory, has the potential to be extremely stimulating and intellectual, but until a more competent professor takes its reins, steer clear.

Dec 2016

The course is a lot of outside work, meeting at minimum 2 extra hours a week. Be sure to have space to rehearse. But regardless Grant is awesome and really dedicated to giving you "tools not rules" to develop your skills as an actor and your ability to access parts of yourself that you may keep from the stage.

Mar 2007

I took Ralph's class the first semester it was offered, and I felt honored to be under the tutelage of such a brilliant professor. Ralph is a visiting professor from Juilliard, and we are so lucky to have him here. His first semester was a little haphazardly organized - he was on a trip for three weeks, and tried to make it up to the class by scheduling weekend classes at Juilliard. We never got the chance to perform as many scenes as were on the syllabus, and very few people had the chance to perform their soliloquies, but I'm told that the organization has become better in later semesters. Ralph is excellent at close readings of Shakespeare - he'll have you go word by word through an entire scene, teaching you where to pause, when to breathe, and where to place emphasis for the meaning to come across. The class also helps you become comfortable with rehearsing in front of an audience (important skill). If you want to act Shakespeare, it would be difficult to find a better professor than Ralph Zito.