History and Practice of Directing

Dec 2014

Alice is not for the faint of heart. As an adviser, she is a lovely combination of sassy and nurturing, and eager to discuss her craft with you. Students who make an effort to ask questions about their directing projects, put in thoughtful effort, and meet with her one-on-one also get to see this side of her. In class, however, she does not suffer fools, and doesn't hold back criticism for late papers and underprepared scene presentations. You will want to work, whether you like directing or not, because if you don't put in a solid effort for each of her assignments, she'll call you out in front of the class - especially early in the semester. If you're particularly sensitive to criticism, this can seem sadistic, but it is her way of creating a classroom climate where nobody wastes anyone else's time, and you come to appreciate that. She is good at teaching how to make pretty and effective stage pictures through composition techniques. She uses her own Viewpoints training frequently as a director, which is interesting for actors trained in the discipline. She does her best to teach "how to interact with actors," but takes a kind of trial-by-fire approach - "you just have to figure out what language each actor speaks and use it in rehearsal" - that does little to decrease the stress of rehearsing your grade-defining final project. Your experience of this course's workload will depend on what play Alice picks for the final scenes. This semester, it was Clybourne Park. Everyone had to do a scene from it, whether they liked the play or not. I'd recommend taking a class with Alice - she's got a lot to teach about life and power and art as a tool for representation - but steel yourself for criticism and bring your best to every class.

Dec 2010

Though she slowly figured out what teaching a class entails, her dry, teenager-like sardonic approach to the course left our class literally crying from frustration and complaining about her methods frequently outside of class (and in a cathartic couple of minutes when she asked for criticism, inside of class too). Was this assignment supposed to be 50 pages? 3? It was never really clear. She wouldn't specify what her assignments entailed, and rarely responded to emails, so the disparity in what people turned in was always drastic. She always exuded a calm snarky confidence, think Meryl in Devil Wears Prada, though when she is dealing with upset students it becomes unnerving and inappropriate. Once, she even remarked that the general bewilderment and anxiety seemed to be a "theme of the class." She never articulated what was expected of us, or her exact grading system. She would assign large creative projects, and then only provide enough time for a couple people in the class to present the fruits of their tedious labor. And though she occasionally dished out little directing tips, her methods were far from didactic. She would dismiss scenes as "Gap ads" or "like watching two people with Asbergers," with the actors in the room. Unless you enjoy stressful pain, do not take a class with Alice.