Kershaw Lecture Provides Unique Learning Opportunity for Students

March 29, 2010

Nearly 20 Mount Union students spent last week rehearsing and learning first hand from The Living Theatre Workshops co-founders Jerry Goralnik and Lois Kagan Mingus.

During the workshop, Living Theatre actors and student participants worked together to create the performance and spent countless hours rehearsing. The Kershaw Lecture performance of this play, A Day in the Life of the City, was performed on Sunday, March 21.

    

“The experience definitely gave me a new insight into some creative teaching ideas, not only about actual theatre exercises, but teamwork and problem solving,” said Sarah Hayes, a junior theatre major from Macedonia, OH, who was one of the student participants in the workshop. “I was thrilled to learn new theatre related activities. It will be beneficial to me as a future drama educator.”

Rudy Roggenkamp, professor of theatre explained that students can be exposed to and watch a variety of theatre performances, “but they don’t always get to participate in them.”

This type of opportunity opened up doors for Mount Union students to create a performance that was their own. Living Theatre representatives explained to the students that A Day in the Life of the City had an underlying theme of everyday concerns in students’ daily lives. Mount Union students then collaborated with them to incorporate their own issues into the performance such as faith and sexual exploitation and expectation. “It was an educational experience and allowed the students to be creative,” said Roggenkamp.

“I did not know much about The Living Theatre Workshops so I didn’t know what to expect of Jerry and Lois,” said Dawn Gottlieb, a sophomore theatre major from Seville, OH, who also participated in the workshop. “There was of course the nervousness that many people experience when trying something new, especially since we were creating a performance that was more abstract than we are used to here at Mount Union.”

Gottlieb’s nervousness was washed away quickly by the respect and trust that Goralnik and Kagan Mingus had for the students. “They wanted to learn just as much from us as we wanted to learn from them. They let us create the entire show ourselves. It was truly about what we wanted and they were there for guidance, support and suggestions.”

Goralnik has worked with The Living Theatre for 20 years and has been involved in the direction of dozens of productions. Co-director of The Body of God and stage manager of the Obie Award-winning Living Theatre Retrospectacle, he has taught Living Theatre techniques around the world.

A member of the group since 1988, Kagan Mingus has appeared in dozens of productions in New York and Europe. She was also in John Turturo’s Illuminata and on television in New York Undercover, among other appearances. She performs regularly with DADAnewyork and the Wycherly Systers in New York.

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“I was really surprised at how willing they were to work with a totally random group of strangers on a project that absolutely had to be finished in a few days, which was truly an undertaking,” added Hayes.

Following the performance, the audience and student actors had a question and answer session. One of the audience members asked the student actors to describe this performance experience in one word. Some of the responses included amazing, profound, provoking, unique, silly, cool, sweet, open, risk, problem solving, cooperation and colorful.

“I thought the performance went very well and I thought our students had a real-world learning experience,” added Roggenkamp. “We are grateful to the supporters who make these endowed lectures and experiences possible. It’s always great for the students to meet other creative individuals who they aspire to be.”

The Myrtie Allen Kershaw Lectureship on Poetry and the Fine Arts was established in 1960 by a bequest from Myrtie Allen Kershaw of Kent, Ohio, who indicated in her will that such a fund should go to a college chosen by her friend and executrix of her estate, Elizabeth Clark Bell. Because of Mrs. Bell's personal interest in Mount Union College, where she was a student in 1932-33 and where her uncle, Robert E. Stauffer, was a teacher and librarian for many years, she designated Mount Union to receive the fund. The income is used to bring periodically to the College a person of distinction, for one or more lectures on ancient or modern poetry, the fine arts, music or for an original performance in one of these fields.

 
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