Written by: Emily Rush
The Drama department at the University of North Florida deserves more recognition than it currently receives. Not only does UNF’s Department of English Theater and Drama put on a number of student-based productions yearly, but the Fine Arts Center has brought many bands, dance companies, orchestras and acting troupes to perform over the past several years. Groups such as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater have graced our stage as early as 2003 and with the Fine Arts Center seating up to 1,300 people, it’s no wonder we’ve had enough success to keep the arts alive… for now.
If you were to ask UNF students what drama classes we offer, it may or may not come as a surprise that most don’t even know. From personal experience, the students in UNF’s drama classes are the same that enroll every year, which can limit diversity. The university offers a variety of classes and opportunities specializing in acting development, such as Acting 1 and 2, Playwrights’ Project, Play Production and Studies in Drama. Students who are interested in more of a medieval concentration can also take courses like Shakespeare and Periods of Drama Literature, which I believe would all be more popular if actively advertised.
Acting classes are a great way to overcome fears of public speaking. If you can’t pretend to be someone else in front of a large group, then how can you speak your own thoughts? A drama class is hardly about acting skills, but more about developing social skills and overcoming fears. It also shows students how to use their own creativity and imagination, something that seems to be diminishing in the education field. Even college students need to grow up and be passionate about something, which is why it’s important to introduce artistic and personally challenging courses early in life.
Our future relies on the ability to imagine and create. The opportunity to express our creativity in an educational environment is something that not many people take advantage of. Acting gives you the ability to express yourself in an entirely different light; some use writing as a release, others choose drawing or painting as a medium. I can say I’ve never been able to be myself more than when interacting with my high school’s drama department. Using drama as a creative release both empties stress and allows you to have fun. Taking on the roles of different characters opposite of who you really are is enjoyable, rewarding and challenging. If this doesn’t convince you to try out acting, then at least partake in the enjoyment of watching people who do it. The mind-opening acts we’ve had perform at UNF are nothing compared to what is still in store. For those of you who may now be interested in the many special stage acts we have here at UNF, the Ravi Coltrane Quartet will be performing for free in the Lazzara Performance Hall on Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 4 p.m.