This is the type of story any student here would preface with the phrase: “So today I had a total Bennington moment.”
This Field Work Term, I set out to write a play with my free time. Basically, my goal is to have a solid draft with a plot that makes sense and characters that have at least begun to be developed. Right now, for me, its more about having a complete work than about having something that is stylistically brilliant. I sent what I’ve got to a few friends for feedback and at the beginning of next term (or whenever I’m comfortable enough with what I’ve written) I am hoping to organize a reading of some sort. I love play-readings and its a great opportunity to get other people’s opinions.
Anyway, my play is about how identity is constructed in the gossipy climate of high school, specifically for gay men. Just as I was losing momentum in my writing, I stumbled across a book — actually, because someone mentioned it on admissions material — that was a sociological study of masculinity in high school. I cannot put it down. It’s called ‘Dude You’re a Fag’ and its by C. J. Pascoe.
My Plan at Bennington is in Linguistics and Drama (more specifically playwriting). The driving question is sort of “How can the role of language in every day life inform art?” and vice versa. I like to think about how people understand one another and interact one another in daily life, how they form ‘meaning’ and how that can be translated onto the stage. Similarly, how does an audience member learn a theme? How can a writer (or director, or actor, or set designer, etc.) communicate those ideas most clearly?
Now, through the most beautifully serendipitous moment, I have a perfect example of how this could work. Through the book, I am learning about how norms were established in one particular high school through the language used by students, teachers and faculty. I am planning on adapting these real life, meaningful moments onto the stage, turning them (hopefully) into literary tools that can further my point. I’ve already started scouring Crossett library for similar books. More importantly, I got my groove back and I can’t wait to keep writing.
The sun majestically perforated the clouds this morning, striking one lone snow-tipped mountain. For some, these rays breaking through the windows of their sleepy dorm rooms stimulated their natural circadian responses, and they rose up like the rest of their animal brothers and sisters in the woods. For others, however, this dawn meant only that another hour had passed in their sleep-deprived delirium. Why, I sometimes ask myself, at a school where there are ostensibly no “requirements,” where we are free to design our own education, do we CHOOSE to do this? The answer, I think, is because we love our work so much.
Here’s what some of us are doing for finals. Check it out:
yes, but not always the kind you’d expect.
Last night I sang a couple songs in a concert organized by 3 seniors in a tutorial with the amazing Nick Brooke — it started as just a tutorial in arranging but the students decided to focus on Steven Sondheim.
Next term voice teacher Tom Bodgan and directing teacher Jean Randich are teaming up to tackle Myths and Hymns, a musical theater piece/song cycle about humans and Gods by Adam Guettel. Can’t wait. Also, the student production next term is Vinegar Tom, a 1970s 3rd wave feminist musical about witches by Caryl Churchill.
Also there’s a student group called Broadway@Bennington that screens musicals, and this term for the first time ever, is producing a musical — Tick, Tick, Boom.
Generally speaking, Bennington is a place where you’d be more likely to experiment with your own way of combining music and theater rather than to follow conventional forms. BUT there are plenty of opportunities for musical theater fans.
First of all, there’s no generals for Field Work Term — people seek out FWT opportunities that will contribute to their specific, individual educational Plans.
I study a lot of theater and came in as mainly an actor. I’ve been to New York City to work off-Broadway as a producer’s assistant and development intern the first two FWTs, then to rural Southern India last year to work at a small residential theater school. Right now, given my interest in theater as a social institution in America, I’m trying to go to LA to work at the Los Angeles Poverty Department.
It’s pretty hard to land an acting gig for 7 weeks in the winter, when you’re in school when you would need to be auditioning. Rarely happens. I prefer to save it for during the term or the summer. However, here’s a photo from a show written, directed, produced, and performed entirely by Bennington current students alums in NYC last FWT:
Social life at Bennington:
Dance Party / House Bonding!
“Studying” on the Lawn!
Hey! I’m not a drama student but, surprisingly, I actually know the answers to all these questions, so I gotcha.
1 - Not for admission to Bennington, no. If you have footage of your acting/other drama work and want to include it in your application supplement, then that’s great, but it’s not a necessity. As far as wanting to study drama once you’ve arrived at Bennington, you will likely be auditioning on a production-by-production basis, as well as for certain advanced classes. Intro-level drama classes don’t require any auditions as far as I’m aware, so it’s easy to get your feet wet.
2 - Yeah, totally! The availability of certain classes changes depending on what day of the week it is but I’d imagine that, once the semester starts back up, there’s at least one acting class you could sit in on for any day of the week. You can always schedule a visit around classes you want to sit in on, so if you decide this is something you wanna do once classes start this year, give the Admissions Office a call at (802)-440-4312 to talk about scheduling a visit.
3 - Yes, there are definitely video/film classes. Rather than bore you with a long list of them in this answer, I’ll just link you through to the visual arts curriculum on our website, which shows a good selection of video/film courses from the past couple of years (you might have to scroll down a bunch; there are loads of visual arts courses to choose from, although they are separated by discipline).
No need to apologize! Glad I could actually answer a drama question for once!
Glad to hear it!
I think the theatre production program is great. The general theatre program is all about studying broadly within theatre, so even I, as an acting student, am asked to take things like theatre history, playwrighting, set design, etc.
So here’s the skinny: we offer all the things you mentioned in your post and more - here’s a sampling of the kind of drama classes we offer. And there are constantly productions going on, so there is ample opportunity as you become more advanced as say a lighting designer to apply your skills in a production environment, whether it’s working officially for credit on a main stage faculty directed production, or designing a set for your friends show that she wants to do in the woods behind Jennings.
If you have more specific questions about drama, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org