Dead Man Walking


Dead Man Walking is a show that I will always have an emotional attachment to because of the emotional affect it ended up having on me.  When I was growing up, capitol punishment wasn’t something we ever talked about in my family, but somehow I always knew I was against it.  Being a part of that show really made me think about how I feel about the issue, and really reinforced what I believe.

MV5BMTM3NzA1MjM2N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzY3MTMzNA@@._V1_SX640_SY720_Playing a character who is very pro-capitol punishment, while I am not, was a struggle for me.  I really had to look at my character and her past life, to get the motivation to do this role justice, and not just turn her into a caricature

This play is such a phenomenon, because of the way it brings to light this important human rights issue in such an unbiased way.  It is tackled from every perspective, and shows neither side as “right” or “wrong.”   I think this show is incredibly important, because it is an issue that needs to be addressed, but is often swept under the rug.


What is “Significant Learning?”

William Arthur Ward Quote

In our group meeting today, my cohort and I discussed Dr. L Dee Fink’s article on Significant Learning.  The main point of the article was that students are more excited about learning when they can make it significant in their lives.  This is especially true when students can relate the content of what they are learning to their major.  For example, when I can draw the connection between language and performance, I get a lot more engaged in the class discussions, and a lot more willing to do the homework.  In some ways, I can abstractly call this comp class and applied theatre class because of the way I can apply it to the work I do in my department.

One discussion point I brought up to the group was a question about page 3.  Dee Fink states “For learning to occur, there has to be some kind of change in the learner.”  I asked the group what kind of change he was talking about, and Manuel said it is change in the mindset of the student.  The student must want to learn.

Obstacles in getting specific in our research

  • Feeling that we have to touch on a lot of things – Chayse Romero
  • Not knowing where to start – Chloe Speshock
  • Asking questions which lead to further questions – Candra Lowery
  • Not being familiar with specific terms – Alex Byron
  • Fear of being responsible for everything we say – Carlie Anderson
  • Not knowing how to narrow down – Erik Keil
  • Unwillingness to adapt – Candra Lowery
  • Unwillingness to be wrong – Bill Mangrum
  • Needing this research to be the best, ever – Bill Mangrum

Learning from Language


As a Theatre Major, I didn’t think a writing class would benefit me at all, but as I was looking through our book, Language: A Reader For Writers, I realized that there are quite a few articles throughout this book that may be beneficial to me as a performer.  Here are a few that stood out to me:

  • Body Language” Arika Okrent (pages 18-27)  This article, originally published in Lapham’s Quarterly is hopefully going to make me more aware of my body language, and understand how body language means different things in different cultures.  As a theatrician, body language is a major part of my world, and I don’t always notice it.
  • “Alien Languages: Not Human” Anassa Rhenisch (pages 27-37) This article, Published in Science in my Fiction, caught my attention because it talks about how alien languages would sound completely different than human languages because of how different our DNA is.  This relates to my major because it takes a lot of knowledge and research as a writer to create a language that sounds authentic.  Here is a video by Marc Okrand of what the fictional language Klingon sounds like, and how it was created.
  • “Let’s Talk About Gender, Baby” Wendy Kaminer (pages 138-141) This article about gender roles directly relates to the theatre, because every performer is either auditioning for a female role or a male role.  I am interested in creating a gender neutral role.
  • “Why Being a Jerk at Work Pays”  Amy Reiter (pages 141-145) In theatre, the people with the high paying jobs, i.e. directors, producers, and designers, have to be assertive and not worry about people getting their feelings hurt.
  • “Sweden’s New Gender-Neutral Pronoun: Hen” Nathalie Rothschild (pages 145-150) My reasoning for choosing to read this article is similar to why I  am reading “Let’s Talk About Gender, Baby.”  I am interested in creating a character that both men and women can audition for, without it changing the direction of the play.
  • “Don’t Call Me Homophobic: The Complexity of ‘That’s So Gay'”  Mark McCormack (pages 150-155) I think there is a stigma against the theatre that “theatre is so gay,” or that boys who are in theatre must be gay.  Let’s break down that stereotype.
  • “Spanglish Moves into Mainstream” Daniel Hernandez (pages 167-171) This is a language I might be required to familiarize myself with in my future career.
  • “Saying ‘Adios’ to Spanglish” Leticia Salais (pages 171-174) This woman’s story of why she didn’t want to speak spanish around her child, is extremely similar to why I am not fluent in Spanish.


Writing Will Propel Me in Theatre? Who Knew?


After researching the chapters in this book, I surprisingly found quite a few that relate to my major.  It seems so obvious.  Theatre is built upon language.  It only makes sense that learning more about language and the different modes associated with language would assist me in my professional career.  I realized that becoming more aware of my body language and the gestures I use while telling a story can heighten my awareness on stage and in rehearsals.

The chapter about body language is definitely going to benefit me the most.  How you move your body and the little mannerisms that you give to a character say a lot more about who that person is than the spoken text itself.  The chapter mentions how some cultures rely on gesture and body language more than others.  Specifically the Jewish and Italian cultures.

How to Gesture in Italian

The above video is just a funny little clip showing how people in the Italian culture use gestures to accompany their language.  This is knowledge applicable to my major if I ever end up playing a character submerged in a culture much different than my own.


Presentation of Text


Talking about the material with my group members really opened my eyes to different perspectives.  through our discussion, it became a main point that your audience greatly affects word choice and sentence structure.  If I am writing to an audience of my peers, I am going to choose words and phrases that are more casual, whereas if I am speaking to, or writing to a more professional audience, I am going to convey my idea in a more professional way.

The way something is presented spatially greatly affects who the audience is.  During our group discussion, Connor McCarron made a good point about spacial presentation.  He mentioned how often times, seeing a huge paragraph, or multiple paragraphs of written text all at once can make a person not want to read the text at all.  Of course, that is more true of our generation, because we are constantly bombarded with media that we never have to read.  If we want to know a news story, we can look up a video of it online and have someone tell us what happened rather than reading it.  If we have a question about something, we can just ask Siri.

Because our generation is so visually engaged all the time, it is an easier way to learn.  Look at “how to” videos for example.  Why would we read vague instructions of how to do something,  when we can just watch somebody show us how to do something?  It is basically fool proof.  I think we cling to visual instructions because we are frightened by the possibility of failure, and an instructional video almost prevents little failures from happening.



I just got distracted for the last ten minutes looking at lolcats online because, like the writer in this chapter said, they are multimodal.  Multimodal means multiple modes of communication, and almost everything is multimodal and we don’t realize it.  Lolcats use both visuals and written words in their communication, which makes it multimodal.  Something that I had never thought about is that a performance is a multimodal text.  Performers use visualization, sound and movement to create a performance, or text, that communicates an idea to an audience.


In this introduction, the “author” states that elsewhere in the book, they will refer to people who produce content as “writers,” “designers,” and “communicators,” because that is a more accurate title for the work they do.  All writing is designed, and other forms of communication besides words can be just as effective in conveying a message.  Body language, sound, visual arts, etc. and all of those mediums are designed.

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