In the 6 years I have worked at Homestead I have witnessed many a Theatre Independent study. My first year here was filled with five seniors who produced The Nerd by Larry Shue. Of these students, one will be performing at Carnegie Hall next week, having graduated from Juilliard last spring. Another student graduated from the film school at Northwestern and two others are graduating this spring with theatre majors. Now not all of them went into theatre, we have an Elementary School teacher and a wildlife and conservation biologist who is monitoring the Grizzly bears in Alberta Canada. It’s so amazing to see where these students go, the ones who choose to go above and beyond the program here at HHS. I have yet to be disappointed.
My second year as a teacher included a directing independent study of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels where the senior director took over the advanced acting class Theatre Production Seminar and directed 25 individuals. She is currently in her senior year at Indiana University studying Theatre. I have also had a film independent study, who is in film school now and another directing independent study in school for directing and theatre. This trimester I have had the pleasure to work with Emily Eckhardt, a costume design independent study student who has to choose from some amazing schools for Costume Design and Nathan Hunt, with a Master Electrician Independent study, where whatever he decides to do, Military, Carpentry, Electrician work or any other number of things, he will do it well. This kid has so much experience and talent, he’s going to have a fun life.
The independent study program offered at HHS is amazing. It’s a program I took part of when I was a student here, myself and four other girls did a dance independent study. In that group we have a professional dancer and a couple teachers. I’m so glad we still have this program. This year I have four independent study kids, Nathan and Emily, plus two dancers next trimester and Emily is taking another independent study next tri in costume designing. It’s been a fun year, my fourth hour classes are traditionally spent packed into the office, listening to their projects, or they just arguing. Nathan will traditionally leave to play in the catwalk or Black Box with the lights, while Emily reads or draws. I’m traditionally the annoying one, making noise or throwing things at them. It’s a beautiful 4th hour.
Emily Eckhardt: Costume Designer
The question comes up all the time- “what do you actually do during an independent study?” No, it is not another study hall. My independent study gave me the chance to explore on my own more about what I want to do with the rest of my life. Throughout this trimester, I did a lot of things that a costume designer would have to do in order to design a show correctly. Learning a lot about the process through practice, I have a greater understanding of the paper based work that comes with the job, the work that most people overlook when thinking of a clothing or costume designer. My favorite thing that I actually got the chance to learn about was the color selection and finding colors that really accent and mean something to each character as well as the show as a whole. Through practicing how to research the time period, I also ended up learning how to find inspiration for each character. That is another thing I love doing- researching the clothing of the time period. Using the book The Costume Designer’s Handbook, I really got a step by step instruction on how to do each of these things. When creating my poster board, I became more aware of the importance of presenting, and through the presenting at the Mikado, I was learning how to explain my thoughts and my process.
To add one more thing to what I have learned over the course of the first trimester. The last and maybe the most important thing that I have learned during my first trimester independent study is… that Nathan Hunt likes to think that he is a professional. But he isnt. Yet.
Nathan Hunt: Master Electrician and Rigger
My independent study has been great! I accomplished a lot in a short amount of time, starting with learning how the LED lights worked. I quickly worked through the programing of the lights and was soon documenting everything I found. Writing it all down was not, and is not my “Cup-Of-tea” but I was happy to do it so more people can understand them. Through my work with the Black Box lighting board, I felt I reached the limits of what the board was capable of with the amount of lights we have. It was a very educational process for me and I felt that putting that information into a instructional format, a manual, was very beneficial for both my knowledge retention, future people, and to document my progress.
Figuring out and playing with the ETC LED Source fours was awesome! Those lights are by far the most advanced lights we have. The settings make them much more controllable than other lights. I wish we had more of them because we could put them to great use.
I also spent a few weeks on my musical display. I created the program from an emulator on my laptop and then ran it from the ipad. This was a fun little “show off” project. I wish I could have done it with all the fixtures but thats unfeasible.