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Visiting Assistant Professor Monica Payne Directs Hecuba at the Pittsburgh Playhouse

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Conservatory Theatre Company Presents Hecuba. Photo | Jeff SwensenConservatory of Performing Arts students perform a scene from Hecuba. Check out more photos below.

Point Park University's Conservatory Theatre Company presented Hecuba at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, directed by Visiting Assistant Professor Monica Payne.

According to Payne, the creativity of her students is very important to her because the imaginative freedom allows them to have a hands-on experience during rehearsal.

“As a teacher, I want my students to learn by doing," she said. "I try to create a safe space in which each person can be taken seriously as a human being."

Melessie Clark, a junior musical theatre major who played the role of Hecuba, spoke of her experiences with Payne’s teaching of the Meisner technique, which she said she's been able to grasp and use in other performances.

“Having had Monica for acting class last year, I was familiar with the Meisner technique which emphasizes working moment-to-moment in order to generate truthful acting," said Clark.

Chorus member Corinne Scott, a senior musical theatre major, talks of another strategy Payne used, known as sacred space.

“Our cast always does sacred space before a show. It’s a chance to lay down, get grounded and let go of any stress," explained Scott. "It also gave our group the chance to warm up together so that we’re all on the same page."

Payne is very adamant in her belief that the pre-show preparations are just as important as one’s time on stage.

“This is essentially a ritual that involved calming the mind and then warming up the body and voice. We have done it every day since our second rehearsal, and the students continued to do it before performances," Payne said.

The actors are not the only ones that are benefiting by Payne’s direction.

Hecuba stage manager Nik Nemec also respects and enjoys his time with her.

“I worked with Monica on Huck Finn last semester, so I knew the way she liked to run rehearsals and her style. We mesh really well with each other and I love working with her," said the senior majoring in stage management.

“All of the students have grown since the beginning of rehearsal, in terms of confidence, ability to handle the text and their ability to work as a group. We have become a family,” added Payne.

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Text by Annie Tomak, a freshman public relations and advertising student

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