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.
Applied theatre can be defined most simply as the utilization of the tools of theatre for a broad set of purposes such as education, community building, healing, conflict resolution, and advocacy. Applied theatre practices and creative processes are dialogic and are most often responsive to marginalized peoples, their stories, and local settings and priorities. This community-based participatory work primarily takes place in non-traditional settings focused on personal and social change. In this course, we will explore a variety of applied theatre practices including theatre of the oppressed, theatre in education, theatre for development, prison theatre, and other modes using theatre and drama to grapple with complex social issues. Our exploratory process will include as much practical application as research with several collaborative creative interventions throughout the semester.
This course is a hands-on, practical approach to directing grounded in listening, collaboration, and embodied practice. The work will be fast-paced: every three classes, you will either present a piece that you have directed or perform in a work directed by your peers. Some pieces will be devised, while others will be scripted, and rehearsals will largely take place outside of class. This practice will be complemented by the viewing of work of a range of contemporary theatre directors who challenge the boundaries of whose stories are told and reimagine how we see. A critical element in this process will be reflection on how your identity and history shape your relationship to the role of director and impact others' perception of you in that role - and how you can engage with these questions so that you can be more fully present in the rehearsal room, listen open-heartedly to your collaborators, and tell the stories that you are burning to tell.
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.
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.