Nimble acrobats twirl on aerial silks with balletic grace worthy of a full-blown Cirque Du Soleil show. The performers don bodysuits with eye-catching purples and vivid blues, their costumes scintillate under grand spotlights. Using several aerial dance apparatuses and a bare stage, they play out a story for their eager audience. This show and these performers may sound like a traveling circus act, but in fact, they are the students of my local public high school.
My director, Amelia Figg-Franzoi, was pursuing her MFA in Dance throughout my high school career. She tackled her MFA undertaking by not only teaching but learning from her students and allowing them to create for themselves; effectively pulling all of them into the world of theatre as told by dance and movement. Her pursuits as an educator and dancer led to four shows chock-full of physical theatre and even more including devised theatre and dance. Physical theatre is a flexible term typically used to describe theatre pieces that explore and highlight physical aspects of performance. Luckily, I auditioned and performed in all of Ms. Figg-Franzoi’s physical theatre productions. My senior year, I co-wrote a play with her for my One Act class; a process that granted me immense creative freedom and learning opportunities. Through her ingenious approach to theatre and the teaching of it, I was able to learn as a student and begin to see myself as an educator.
Physical theatre opens up a gateway for a host of positive personal characteristics to develop. The communication required in this form of art is extensive and challenging. Collaboration and cooperation among peers is a vital part of creation and learning in general. Through concentrated rehearsal technique, performers can develop a safe community for imagination, cooperation, and fun. As they become more comfortable expressing themselves through movement, an intensified sense of self-confidence inevitably follows. Combining the creative ideas and abilities of all participants in discussions, feedback, rehearsing, and performance allows for personal and group growth. Whether they realize it or not, individuals involved in the process of physical theatre gain an emotional outlet. In college, students need places like this more than any other time in their lives.
As a student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, my goal would be to improve the lives of my classmates through a student organization (tentatively named Zoetic Theater) dedicated to physical theatre practice and performance. In a combination of dance, movement, and acting, students would be able to explore their own creativity and develop as a group. Each semester I would like to find inspiration from other artists, create our own physical theatre piece, rehearse it and eventually perform for the community. Through our art, I want to make a mark on the city.
My target group of students is anyone looking to expand their horizons in college. This could be people who have previously acted, beginner dancers, advanced dancers and most importantly people that have never even considered the arts as an outlet. Time after time, I have seen physical theatre change individuals. In my One Act class, a football player signed up to act after racking up too many concussions to play that year. He soon realized physical theatre’s delight; consequently, One Act became his favorite part of the day. There are dozens of people I have met and worked with that feel this way. For the duration of high school, I convinced my friends to join Drama Club, audition for musicals, stick with plays, and allow themselves to grow as artists through theatre. Overall, I facilitated my peers’ love for theatre through my years of serving our Fine Arts Department; it is an honor and a joy I wish to bring with me in the years to come.
Through Zoetic Theater and my experiences as an artist, I want to make theatre approachable and accessible to all students at UWM, a sentiment echoed in the Peck School of the Arts’ mission statement. Theatre is for anyone who is willing to create art and I hope I can find willing artists to take on this journey.
Written By: Emma Zander
College Essay for UWM
She wishes to pursue Theatre Education