Well, that was a long day. Thursdays, it turns out, are going to be doozies for a while.
I begin with Directing (the class I TA). After an hour and a half, I have approximately an hour to myself. An hour, by the by, turns out to be just enough time that it makes you feel like you should be doing something, but not long enough to truly accomplish anything. In other words, just long enough to make you anxious without the substance to do anything about this anxiety. Today, my netbook proved angry at me for failing to turn it on more than once this summer. It is a small bit of technology with a small brain and, for a cheap computer, rather advanced in years, so I can’t say that I blame it for wanting more attention; it figures that it would be today of all days that the darn thing decided to act up.
After this time, I whisk my way down to my own class (Theory). Today was particularly
exciting because it was the first class of my semester that I am actually taking. This also meant that I got to meet the new crop of first years.
We had a veritable deluge of first years this year. There are a lot of new faces, new voices, and new people about the department. Since the department is very small, this means a lot of new things to get used to. What it also means is that class sizes are larger. This year, our classes cap out at seventeen. Last year, my largest class had ten. These seemingly similar numbers are in actuality vastly different in the context of discussion-based courses (especially those held in small seminar rooms). It feels different; rather than a round-table, we feel like a motley hoard. I’m going to be interested to see what this hoard shapes up to in terms of actual class discussion.
Unfortunately, my experience with larger classes is that the strong voices remain strong and the weak fade into the background. Those who are aggressive fight, those who are more inclined to sit back and let thing wash over them have the security to do so. This makes the conversation imbalanced and, often, repetitive. I look forward to seeing how the professors (whom I have the utmost respect for) solve this particular teaching dilemma and help to retain order within the seminar room.
One of the most exciting things about meeting the first years is understanding the new classroom dynamic. Who is going to speak with a loud voice? What will be the timbre of that voice? What opinions do these people have, how hard are they willing to fight, and how are they going to bring their vast array of different knowledges/experiences to the table?
One of my favorite parts about academia is the argument. One of my colleagues made the apt observation just the other day that “it’s always a fight with you”. Preparing for class, for me, is donning armor and honing my blade. Having a roomful of new opponents is the most tantalizing thing I could be presented with. I was hard pressed not to lick my lips with a knowing grin as we went around introducing ourselves; lots of new and different specialties. Plenty of fodder. Let the bloodbath begin.
I rounded out my day at rehearsal. We’re really getting into the thick of things now and
we’re at that point where most folks are mostly off book. I myself am off book (though, again, I do need to call “LINE!” particularly when I get caught up in something). This is a weird place to be. While the words are in your head, you haven’t quite gotten them in your body yet. You reach and strive for them and, though some layering comes naturally, often the most intense moments are still evasive. For me, today, tackling 3.2 proved extremely frustrating. This is the first scene in which Rosalind speaks with Orlando at any length, and she does so under the guise of Ganymede. It’s almost specifically in prose (a challenge in itself) and I spend the scene giving speeches which mostly consist of lists. As if that weren’t enough, capturing some sense of genuine emotion is a roller coaster. The scene begins, for me, giddy in love and playing around with Celia and Touchstone about Orlando’s bad poetry. After being ribbed good and hard, I have a few moments with Celia before I have to don the guise of Ganymede and play real, serious, and convincing.
The rhetoric bounces wildly, the mood changes drastically, and I’m still trying to remember all the gosh darn lists that Rosalind uses.
Suffice to say I didn’t quite hit the emotion that we need to drive this scene tonight. But I have hope. My scene partners, luckily, are fantastic. With some more work, I have confidence that we can get there.
…and now, officially, to tackle my real job: reading. I think I was sorely mistaken when I held the belief that second year would be easier than first year.
Ah, well, back into the fray.