Elgin Community College offers many non-traditional opportunities for students, and late-start courses are a great example.
Intro to Theater History and Lit began February 22, later than most classes this semester. The decision to delay the class was the result of the impact of COVID-19 on the class schedule. After evaluating enrollment trends, it was determined that a late-start asynchronous format was the most practical option.
The course is taught by Professor Jeffrey Larocque, who holds a master’s degree in theatrical and critical lighting from Bowling Green State University.
Larocque clarifies that the name of the course should not alienate potential students.
“My goal is to make things interesting, provocative and thought-provoking,” says Larocque. “Just because the story is in the name doesn’t mean it’s boring or uninteresting.”
In this course, students explore the relationship between a culture’s entertainment and its values in order to understand the feedback they have about each other. Different cultures at different points in time are examined, along with the corresponding historical events.
Each week, students watch a play and then complete a homework assignment. Assignments range from online research activities to discussion forums to traditional written assignments.
Larocque’s goal is to make the course interactive and enjoyable, despite its asynchronous format.
“The last thing I want to do is have students watch an hour and a half video of my lecture,” Larocque said. “I would prefer that students explore these texts and explore the resources around these texts.”
Through engaging and relevant content, students develop skills in writing, research, and literary analysis.
“I really want students to leave this course with an appreciation for the impact of theater, plays, and other forms of entertainment on our culture,” says Larocque. “I think my goal is to get them out of that class appreciating how really powerful some of those forms of entertainment were.”
Stage Makeup is another late starter course, starting March 19 with an in-person format. Originally intended to start at the start of the semester, it was changed to an 8-week course due to Omicron’s spike.
The class will be taught by Emily Brink, who earned an MFA from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She focused on costume design and she is currently a freelance costume designer.
The class teaches a new aspect of storytelling through the exploration of makeup applications.
“Makeup is an important part of characterization the same way costumes are,” Brink said. “With the makeup, it’s a really clear, really literal application of what the character is.”
Students will learn the basics of applying basic stage makeup and corrective makeup. Plus, they’ll learn fantastic makeup applications and have the opportunity to design their own creative and quirky looks.
These skills are crucial for actors, as when working behind the scenes of a production, performers may need to apply their own makeup.
“One of the things that the manual we’re working on emphasizes more than anything else is that a lot of the time there’s a costume designer, but maybe there isn’t. makeup artist, so actors have to have that skill,” Brink said. “It’s really very crucial.”
Performers are not the only target audience. People who are interested in theatrical design or have a passion for makeup and are looking to further their knowledge would benefit from learning how to apply makeup on stage.
Brink said the best way to approach this course is to have a creative mindset. Asking distinctive questions, exploring unique ideas, and learning new skills with an open mind are key ways to get the most results.
Brink wants people to know that the entertainment industry isn’t one to be undermined or belittled.
“I think the way our society is organized right now is unfortunately really set on telling people that the only worthwhile trade they can learn is math and science, that’s just not true,” he said. said Brink. “The pandemic has reminded a lot of people how important entertainment is.”
When it comes to late-start classes, Brink assures students that they shouldn’t be intimidated by the limited time frame. She describes it as an opportunity to learn more material in a faster way.