Theatre 423 is traditionally considered a challenging performance course at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Department of Theatre and Dance. The class hones in on techniques for acting in Shakespearean plays and navigates through dense texts of heightened language (meant to be spoken and heard). Local actors and celebrated UH theatre alumni, Alvin Chan and Moses Goods, were invited to lend their expertise and co-lecture this fall.
“I wanted to teach this course because oftentimes, Shakespeare acting courses do not spend enough time focusing on the text, and the various ways that actors can use the text to inform emotion and character,” Chan explained. “I want the students to be able to meet the text on a technical level, and then move on to finding their own personal connection to the world of Shakespeare.”
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Chan’s acting and directing background stems back to New York, Washington D.C. and Japan. He also served as an artistic associate at the Honolulu Theatre for Youth. Goods has traveled cross-country and internationally performing everything from full-length plays to theatrical storytelling pieces with a heavy focus on Native Hawaiian culture. His one-man show, DUKE, based on Olympic gold medalist and renowned Hawaiʻi waterman Duke Paoa Kahanamoku garnered rave reviews and critical praise.
In fall 2021, a mix of 10 undergraduate and graduate theatre students took on the Shakespeare course to expand their thespian repertoires. The class covered acclaimed scenes and monologues from various plays and encompassed projection and script analysis techniques to help bring the language to life so audiences can follow and understand.
Shakespeare is like Kung Fu. No one style of it defines it. Practice, and you’ll be doing flips in no time.
“What I have to offer is not theoretical but rather practical,” Goods said. “I teach what I know to be useful in terms of sustaining a career in the art of acting. Ma ka hana ka ʻike, that’s a well known ʻōlelo noʻeau (saying or proverb) that basically means that you learn something by doing it. Instead of spending too much time talking about it, just jump in and do it!”
For many actors, the foundation of classical acting is heavily steeped in performing Shakespeare’s plays. The intricate characters within the legendary playwright’s timeless productions demand immense depth from the performers.
“Shakespeare is like Kung Fu,” Chan added. “No one style of it defines it. Practice, and you’ll be doing flips in no time. And who doesn’t like flips?”
This effort is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Becoming a Native Hawaiian Place of Learning (PDF), Enhancing Student Success (PDF), two of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.