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HOWLing at UMass Dartmouth

UMass Dartmouth English professor explores literature through experimental theater

Students in the Oral Interpretation of Dramatic literature course will be presenting a staged reading of HOWL by Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg's epic poem and post-modernists anthem will be presented as a multi-voiced, environmental choreopoem, developed and directed by Morgan James Peters, and assistant professor of English. The presentation will take place on Tuesday, December 11, 2007 around 3PM in the UMass Dartmouth campus center.

Oral Interpretation of Dramatic Literature I & II are courses that were introduced in the 1980's by James Nee, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Massachusetts. Through this course, Professor Nee introduced students to the basic principles of method acting, as defined by Lee Stassberg. Upon arriving at UMass Dartmouth in 2003, Morgan James "Mwalim" Peters inherited the course, seizing the opportunity as chance to explore the process of producing and developing theater. Taking it from the page to the stage is the motto of the courses.

Coming to the university directly from a career as a teaching and performing artist in New York City's Off-Broadway theater and nightclub community, Mwalim brought a philosophy that "all texts are dramatic literature if presented dramatically." The focus of the Oral Interpretation courses have been the development and presentation of readings and workshop performances of plays, using poetry, song lyrics,  scripts, short stories, passages from novels, textbooks, magazine articles, and news clippings as texts for monologues and dialogues. With this, students explore the application of Brechtian, Stanislavsky, Strassberg, and classical systems and methods. Having worked in both traditional and experimental forms of theater professionally, Mwalim brings these experiences to the classroom. The piece is being developed using ensemble building methods learned through Mwalim's studies at New African Company with James Spruill and Lynda Patton and working with director Myles Corey.

This semester, the course is exploring the structure of the 'choreopoem' form, a technique introduced by Ntozake Shange with her monumental explorations, "For Colored Girls Who've Considered Suicide..." and "Spell Number Seven..." Using poetry as the dramatic text, the choreopoem form is very similar to the approaches that would be employed in staging classic Greek and Shakespearean theater in the present.

For more information, contact Mwalim (508) 999-8304 or mpeters@umassd.edu.
 

Author:  "M. Peters"
Date:  16-Nov-2007
Department:   College of Arts & Sciences

You can find this article at:
http://www.umassd.edu/communications/articles/showarticles.cfm?a_key=1718