Whoa, 2012 is over! Here’s a look back on my year, which I think I might call a point of no return.
UF Graduate School in Anthropology: Semester One
Anthropology of the Media (Dr. Ieva Jusionyte): I began my anthropological investigation of bullying with a media studies project, in which I analyzed the lexical and semantic content of 75 news articles on the topic. The process was tedious, but enlightening: my initial reading of the articles, which dated back to 2005, revealed trends in the pragmatic focus and rhetorical tone of the articles. Although I had to work with a small sample and without an independent coder, I found that my initial observations were supported by the analysis of semantic elements, which I analyzed both by time and against each other. I found that bullying has been reified in the news media, and increasingly portrayed as a disease. The paper will hopefully be presented in the graduate colloquia by next summer.
Other work from the class is partly represented on our class blog.
Film Analysis (Dr. Robert Ray): My other class, not including my requisite proseminar, was a film analysis class which spurred some of the thoughts you’ll find on my new blog, Confluey. Although our discussions were lighter on the history and heavier on the formal analysis, the exposure to classic film and my newfound understanding of their social undercurrents are essential to my study.
Acrosstown Repertory Theatre: As discussed here, after Galileo of Gainesville, I immediately jumped on board ART’s double feature production of a one-act Hamlet and a one-act parody, The Prince Formerly Known As Hamlet, by Bruce Kane. As usual, I began as stage manager and did what I call the “magnet sweep, “which causes the various vacant production roles to stick to me. Thus, I was Stage Manager, Properties Designer, Props Master, and Zombie Makeup Consultant (the parody went interesting places). The show was a hit.
After a summer hiatus filled with dreary retail work, I reprised the sickening household set (although the level of filth accomplished in Prima Donna was not possible in a stage production) for Come Back, Little Sheba. Through some careful thrifting on a shoestring budget, I managed to approximate the period (sadly, not perfectly, due to budgetary restrictions) and establish the neurotic personality of the lady of the house.
The theatre has also developed new committees: I sit on the Facilities Committee as Design Manager—meaning I facilitate the production teams by getting the resources and people to the theatre, keeping the theatre organized and safe, and maintaining our props and costume closet.
Next spring I will be stage managing Outburst, written by Gainesville playwright Leroy Clark. It is a drama about a gay teacher’s job and relationship troubles after he accidentally outs himself in his classroom.
Yes, I went pro! For the Hippodrome’s production of A Tuna Christmas, by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears, and Ed Howard. The show has been done several seasons alongside the Hipp’s annual production of A Christmas Carol, and requires two actors to play 22 characters. The Hipp performs a slightly edited version, with only 15 characters—but still. Because of my stage management experience, I was hired to manage the wardrobe and the dressing team for the run. The comic pacing of the show + only two actors = a lot of quick changes. I was essentially an ASM/run crew head specifically for wardrobe. The entire process was delightful…well, maybe not the laundry. I was very excited to add this adorable satire to my resumé. In addition, while one has less a sense of “building” theatre when working pro, the available resources and possible efficiency lend an incredible sense of camaraderie and family. However, whether the theatre is educational, community, street, or pro, the sense of making magic is both integral and inextricable.
Although I am sitting on a few plays waiting for the best opportunity to submit for production, I kept my playwriting muscles in shape with a 7-hour writing binge as part of the 24-hour play festival called 4x4x4 (the number of playwrights, directors, and actors per play, respectively). My 20-minute play, Empower Play, was produced the following evening for the festival, hosted by the Civic Media Center on August 11. Because of time constraints, the play could not be accurately memorized or produced with any allowance of specificity or fanciness. However, as a writer, it allowed me to gauge the flow, naturalness, and efficiency of the script by how easily it was produced. I was pleased to see that the director and actors were able to stay true to it.
4x4x4 was repeated at the CMC on October 13, on which I was one of the directors. While for writing, I can easily get into flow, and for a short work can usually ride the wave to fruition, so to speak, having one day to direct a play was unusual and problematic. Doing all of the prep work, teaching the actors blocking, and helping them memorize lines and refine their characterizations within 12 hours seemed an impossible task. To make it worse, my playwright had given me an absurdist post-apocalyptic dark comedy, the most difficult style, setting, and genre (although some of my favorites as well), all in one! Amazingly, we pulled it off to the delight of our audiences.
Updated:More about PopConcoction
I decided to embark on a different sort of pop culture investigation. Rather like Claude Levi-Strauss deconstructing myths, I decided to deconstruct American cultural icons. Rather than making extensive charts, I used images from advertisements, surrounding the icon’s face with a collage of associated and representational images. The first sets of the two series, TV Icons and Divas, showed at the Civic Media Center in the July Artwalk and on the UF campus in October as part of a student art exhibition sponsored by the Inter-Residence Hall Association. The next sets in both series will be shown at the January Artwalk at the Civic Media Center.
Certain projects, such as my music, the revisions of my screenplay, and my fandom study were necessarily reduced to allow for these other projects. However…I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Next year I look forward to Death of a Salesman at High Springs Community Theatre, the aforementioned Outburst, my foray into the documentary portion of the anti-bullying project, research presentations, and who knows what else.