This year, St. John’s is expanding their course selection by offering a new introductory acting course on campus. The course is offered by the College of Professional Studies and taught by professor Richard Thomas.
This semester, 25 students are taking the course. Thomas spoke about the new course’s turnout.
“It surprised me how many students were interested,” he said. “The class is overfilled.”
The class focuses on the fundamentals and strives to give students a basic foundation in acting. Thomas said, the course consists of different types of acting exercises, including one minute exercises students prepare at home then come to class to present each week.
“They are structured in a way to free the student and build confidence. As such, students are asked to recreate an emotional memory, a sensory memory, their identity and so forth. I do not ask them to perform these, but honestly represent the feelings,” said Thomas.
In addition to this exercise, students get the chance to act out different scenes and perform monologues.
“The point is for the students to gain confidence, and get past any inhibitions that they have,” said Thomas.
Both the midterm and final for this course are student performances. Thomas said that for the midterm, students will perform monologues they have selected and perfected up until that point.
The final will require the students to perform a scene as a pair. They must attend the performances of their peers and offer critiques about their strength and weaknesses.
Thomas said the students observe each other’s performances as a way to learn more about the art of acting.
“To learn how to act, one needs to know what makes good acting, and the only way to do that is to be able to critically evaluate another’s performances,” he said.
Sophmore Princess Carroll said she is excited about the opportunity now available to her.
“The reason I took this class was to find out whether or not acting is a potential field that I would like to go into,” said Carroll. “Thus far, I have learned a lot! The best thing I’ve learned up to this point is how to get in touch with the part of me that’s behind closed doors. It doesn’t seem like it, but Professor Thomas has taught us that this is the key to acting: letting go of yourself, all your inhibitions and just letting your raw emotions show within the character you’re portraying.”
Inda Grofeld, a senior, is likewise excited about the new course, and hopes that there will be more acting courses in the future.
“I’ve loved the art of acting ever since I was a little girl. Now as a senior in St. John’s University, I get to experience this class with not only an intellectual professor who has great knowledge of this subject, but also students that share the same interest and passion as me,” she said. “I hope in the near future there will be more classes and more acknowledgment towards the art of acting.”