There's a lot to be done before the curtain rises on opening night of a performance. Students in Todd Morton's Acting I class start at the beginning—taking "sides," cuts from a larger play, for scene studies so students can analyze both the dramatic structure and relationships among characters long before they hit the stage.
Together, the class considers different staging choices to determine which looks will convey the changing circumstances for the characters. The process involves trying things out, possibly making mistakes along the way, in order to compare and contrast all the choices. "They learn that often their intuition or impulse really works well and is brilliant," explains Morton. "But, just as often, it takes 'messing up' in order to find something that works." The work is "'out of the head and into the space'. I use this phrase to encourage students to go beyond the stage of thinking things through in their head or only with words and to play things out on their feet, for real."
While the students engage in initial dialog, Morton reminds and encourages them to push further, beyond what comes up in early brainstorming. He asks them what they would want if they were in the audience.