Osher Lifelong Leaning Institute, George Mason University, Virginia

Member of the OLLI program at George Mason explored many different aspects of the theatre this past spring. Here is a sample:

World Theatre: An Overview
In this course guest speakers from GMU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts surveyed the development of world theatre from its origins to the contemporary world. Beginning with a discussion of various theories of origin in classical antiquity, the course proceeded to cover the following broad topic area. The course also provided a framework of the understanding of world theatre development as an art form and social phenomenon.

Drama in the “Dark Ages” – The theatre’s cycles of death and rebirth in the medieval world.

Explosions and Explorations – The drama of the Renaissance and the Elizabethan age, including Machiavelli and Shakespeare.

If It Ain’t Baroque – Golden Ages of Drama in France and Spain in the 17th century.

The Eastern Perspective – Classical forms of drama and theatre in China and Japan.

But You Must Pay the Rent! (and other crises) – Theatre in the 19th century (with an obligatory glance at Ibsen).

Paradigms Lost – the World Wars and the theatre of the 20th century.

Ripped from the Headlines – The drama of the here and now featured lively discussion and in-class reading of primary source material by faculty and class members.

The Face of the Theatre
This four-week course ventured into the world of theatre makeup. Participants learned the tricks of the trade, while practicing them on their classmates. They explored the how’s and why’s of straight, character and fantasy makeup. A fun, hands-on course.

The Art of Costume Design
In four sessions, students looked into the exciting world of costume design from the perspective of a GMU professor and costume designer. He selected one or more scenes from a well-known American play and asked members to come up with costuming choices that reflected the respective characters’ roles. They discussed the choices and learned from a professional how creative and challenging final costume selection can be.

Readers Theatre
Members developed their reading skills, learned more about plays and play-reading and enjoyed interacting with other hams. Each week members either performed as one of the characters in a play or became part of the audience. Members were encouraged to rehearse ahead of time. While they didn’t memorize scripts or include action, making scenes come alive between two or more characters does require some practice.




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