A song. A camera. A personal story. These are just some of the elements that students were told to work with and embody during a theatre workshop led by Michael Breslin ’13 and his collaborator Patrick Foley on Sept. 14, as they had just finished giving a performance of their own self-written play, A Doll’s House, Part 3 (2018), on campus the day before.
Breslin is no stranger to the stage, having majored in Theatre during his time at Hamilton before studying cross-gender performance in four countries through Hamilton’s Bristol Fellowship. Since then, he has pursued many theatre and film projects, and is a graduate of Yale School of Drama’s MFA in acting program. He currently works alongside Foley, also a graduate of the program, in a collaboration named “Michael + Patrick.”
During the workshop, students worked in groups of two to three to brainstorm their own performances using the given elements. They had a limited amount of time to prepare before showcasing their pieces to the collective group.
After seeing each performance, the workshopping began. Fiddling around with details such as character placement, lighting, dialogue, and sound, Breslin and Foley took the foundation of students’ pieces and helped craft them into even more developed works of art. The conversation was collaborative in nature, with other student participants also giving feedback on the positive nuances of each group’s performance.
“The workshop was helpful for me in that it served as a jumping off point for the development of so much different work,” Claire Chang ’20 said. “I most appreciated the facilitators’ ‘pause and restart’ approach. They provided ideas about how to tweak what we had already made ever so slightly, and yet the smallest revision (e.g, changing the staging from proscenium to in-the-round) had the capacity to change the entire meaning of the piece.”
The workshop taught participants how to take an original concept and implement even slight changes for improvement. Some students decided that these could be more than just quick ideas put together during a one-time workshop, but instead, the beginning of bigger and better projects that could grow in the future.