Shining a Spotlight on COCC’s Theatre Classes
Ayla Adkins/The Broadside
Central Oregon Community College has a variety of classes. But due to the very present pandemic, things have changed to keep the classes going. One class that has had to be heavily altered is Acting I, TA141.
Lilli Ann Foreman has been a faculty member at COCC since 1987 and “ran the theatre program until its demise in 2003.” She teaches most, if not all, the acting classes at COCC with a “bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and an MFA from Penn State, along with additional training from various theatre programs including the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and University of Washington.”
Foreman has had to deal with the new challenges of teaching an acting class over Zoom. She has even been using it to her advantage by shifting the course focus away from acting onstage for a camera to performances that require the actor to be much closer to the audience. It’s challenging, but she adores, “seeing the joy that students experience as they realize that they can do this!”
Acting can be frightening to many students, but it isn’t as scary as you might think since “acting is a three-course sequence, starting with TA141 Acting 1,” said Foreman.
Starting with the basics is less frightening than diving right into the later courses that Foreman offers.
She teaches three acting levels and said that “students who wish to continue past three terms of acting can. There are also options to repeat 2 & 3 for credit. Because I am the only faculty teaching this sequence of courses, I can personalize the repeat experience for that small group of students who wish to continue their study.”
Foreman hopes to bring the spotlight back onto the acting classes and bring the theatre program back to life.
“From the late 1970s to the spring of 2003, COCC had a vibrant and respected theatre performance program presenting two to three productions every year,” said Foreman.
“Community members and COCC students performed side by side. Students in the art program designed and painted scenic elements, and students from the music program played in the orchestra or performed onstage when we did musicals. We enjoyed a true artistic community in the Fine Arts department.”
Foreman also elaborates on how the ending of the theatre program, as the college claimed it was a “necessary cost-saving measure,” affected her. She said that her “tenured position as an Associate Professor of Drama and Dance was eliminated. After extended negotiation and a one-year absence, I returned to COCC in the fall of 2004 to teach primarily Communication courses.”
Foreman has also “repeatedly and unsuccessfully requested the return of financially supported theatre performance to COCC.” She continues to fight for the program and is “currently researching the various models that other Oregon community colleges are using to support their theatre performance programs, hoping to use one or more of those as a model for restarting our program.”
The best way to bring the program back for the students, faculty, and community is to enjoy it by having more students enroll in Foreman’s acting classes.
TA200, Introduction to Theatre, will be taught during the winter term 2021. Twelve students need to be enrolled in it for the class to occur, or else it will be canceled. The class “is a survey course covering theatre history, practice, and performance from ancient Greece to today,” said Foreman.
“We look at the various career paths available in theatre — onstage, backstage and offstage — and at the ways in which theatre influences other entertainment. I’m hoping that the class will fill because it’s a fun class to teach, and it lends itself well to the remote learning environment.”
Anyone interested in the acting classes offered by Foreman can contact her through email at email@example.com.