Gleason Bauer (they/them), a director, theatremaker, and educator based in Los Angeles, CA visited classes in the Theatre & Dance Department at Sewanee in November, including my Elements of Performance and Directing classes, and Jennifer Matthews’s Grassroots Theatre class. For my classes, Gleason introduced elements of Moment Work™ that students were able to incorporate into performance/directing projects they were presenting as part of course credit. In the Directing class, Gleason worked with directors to develop Moments relating to their final directing scene. They had each director develop a standalone Moment themselves, without actors, and then had them work with their actors to collaboratively develop Moments that explored images within their specific texts.
In the Elements of Performance class, the students were preparing to present improvisational scenes in pairs. For this class, Gleason asked them to bring in objects that could be used as a prop for the characters that they were developing, and they worked to make Moments that focused on exploring the full potential of each object, which allowed them to utilize the objects in unexpected (and therefore theatrical) ways. One student commented in her end-of-semester reflection that the workshop was fun and that she appreciated being able to work with a guest artist during the semester. In both classes we were able to continue “making Moments” together using the basic framework of Moment Work™, and this proved incredibly useful in the students’s final creative projects.
For Jennifer Matthews’s Grassroots Theatre class, Gleason’s visit was focused less on specifically creating stand-alone Moments with the students and geared more toward helping them use Moment Work™ (of which they already had a working familiarity) to shape their final performance. The students in the course had already conducted interviews and research to cobble together a script, and were in the process of staging the material. Gleason worked with them to fill in the gaps and make stronger connections between the disparate pieces, and encouraged them to experiment with the structure of what they had created thus far. By the end of the class the students and Jennifer felt that they had a clearer idea of how to move forward, and many of the ideas and suggestions that Gleason made were implemented in the final showing.
It was great to be able to have Gleason visit classes in addition to the other work they did while they were in residence with the Department, and I very much appreciate the Center for Teaching’s support.
Emily K. Harrison, Theatre Department