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Dramatic education (watch VIDEO)

At a public reading on the Blau Theatre stage inside the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan theatre students stood alongside some of the most accomplished Shakespearean actors. Bound together in exploring the possibilities of the script and dramatic alternatives, students and professional actors brought to life the Russian play, “Boris Godunov.”

The staged performance of the newest version of Alexander Pushkin’s 19th-century play was held in mid March, the culmination of a week of rehearsals and rigorous probing under the direction of Royal Shakespeare Company Artistic Director Michael Boyd.  A second play, “The Orphan of Zhao,” also underwent dissection and analysis during RSC’s 10-day Creative Residency.

While RSC’s purpose in Ann Arbor was to fine-tune the two plays for performances during its fall season, “A World Elsewhere,” held at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, U-M students were immersed in an intensely emotional and challenging experience that broadened their dramatic sensibilities. On several occasions, RSC Associate Artistic Director Gregory Doran held acting workshops, coaxing students to delve into the layers of meaning in Shakespeare’s text.

The results were indeed dramatic — and indelible.

“We got a great sense of how to find character… to dig into the words and find what the character is, rather than (settling) on our preconceived notions,” said Drew Ariana, a student in U-M’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

Student Olivia Lloyd took a turn at directing several RSC actors. “There were a lot of epiphanies in learning about the directing process in getting to observe (RSC) directors,” she said.

Student Emily Lyon realized the commitment and day-to-day realities of a theatre career.

“This process has been informative for understanding the breadth of theatre, from understanding Shakespeare to being professionals in the field,” she said.

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