Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre
He is currently collaborating with a team of theater makers from Atlanta, New Orleans, and the Pioneer Valley and writing "White Mourning," a play about whiteness, parenting, and history. Mr. MacAdams has a B.A. in theater and anthropology from Yale University and an M.F.A. in theater directing from Yale University. He teaches a range of classes in acting, playwriting, directing, and theater for social change.
Students in this course will explore moments in theater history when the way that we tell stories was shaped by the introduction of technical elements - from the role of fire in the beginning of many storytelling traditions to the ways that projection design is redesigning stage space in the present day. Learning will take place in the classroom, where students will read and discuss plays and historical texts, as well as in the shop, where they will create hands-on projects that reflect the role of technical elements as both practical tools and artistic mediums. The course will be taught with the technical support of Theatre Program Technical Director Amy Putnam.
This course is a hands-on, practical approach to directing guided by the belief that "directors learn to direct by directing." Our central focus is on the collaboration between performer and director. The pace will be rapid and the workload significant: every three classes, you will either present a piece that you have directed or perform in a work directed by your peers. Rehearsals will take place outside of class. During the first part of the course, our work will be largely devised and focused on telling original stories through specific theatrical elements, such as movement, silence & breath, music, or light and shadow. The second part of the course will focus on text-driven work, which we will select together. Throughout, we will explore, take risks, experience the joy and difficulty of collaboration, and challenge each other to make vital work.
From anti-Apartheid protest theater to D'Lo; from Teatro Campesino to students creating work at Hampshire and beyond, theater makers have often played a key role in envisioning and embodying social change. What sparks their passion? How do they balance theatrical craft with activist vision? And how can we learn from both their successes and from the places in their work that are inconsistent, incomplete, and contradictory? In this course, students will read texts, watch videos and on-line work, and lead discussions to explore the dynamic, electric, and sometimes explosive relationship between artists and their time.
In this course, you'll develop your craft by writing a series of short pieces for performance, followed by a longer work. The theatrical form can vary widely: naturalistic pieces, choreopoems, work expressed entirely in stage directions, stories you heard as a child, rants, plays with music, or whatever form necessary to tell your story. The process will help develop an ear for your authentic voice and also foster a community of writers defined by generous listening. Writing will be supplemented by reading the work of visionary playwrights, who may include: Dominique Morisseau, Quiara Alegria Hudes, Spalding Gray, Young Jean Lee, Thornton Wilder, Taylor Mac, and Tarell Alvin McCraney.
What is presence on stage? And how does an actor manifest it? In this course, you'll explore acting through an ensemble-based approach that is grounded in embodied listening. The course begins with an exploration of the many stories that you carry, hear, and express through movement. We'll then move to language, developing skills of text analysis, vocal presence, and character development - with a particular focus on how words express identity, carry electricity, and resonate in the body. Throughout the semester, you'll explore how listening deeply helps foster ensemble - guided by the core belief that dynamic life on stage is found not within oneself but in relationship: to the text, to other performers, and to the audience.
Who are your elders? Family members or ancestors? Artists, activists and intellectuals who have paved the way for you? Someone - younger than you - who has the insight of an elder? Elements of your world: a tree, the sidewalk, the wind, a familiar laugh that goes back generations? In this course, you'll create an ensemble-based theater piece inspired by your elders. You'll research the piece (through interviews and the gathering of stories, gestures, and images) then develop a work-in-progress performance. To inform your process, you'll be introduced to ensemble-based plays and companies: from for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf to Universes; from New York's Open Theater to New Orleans' Mondo Bizarro. The goal is to create a song not in the musical sense (although you may involve music to tell your story) but in the sense of a theater piece that reflects the dynamic rhythm of life that extends across generations.
This course replicates the fast-paced, collaborative spirit of a theater ensemble at the beginning of a rehearsal process. Over the course of the semester, we'll begin work on many plays - both classical texts and plays by visionary playwrights from diverse backgrounds and identities who are illuminating and redefining contemporary theater (Plays will be selected by both the instructor and by students). For each play, students will do both dramaturgical research and ensemble projects including scenes, design responses, ensemble-based physical explorations, and dialogue about how one would approach questions of race and casting in the play. The course is designed for students of all theatrical disciplines as well as those who have no background in theater but who are curious about collaborative work. The goals are to broaden students' repertoire of plays and to dive headlong into the question: how do we begin?