Late start courses: a nontraditional opportunity

Nat Leon, Staff Writer

Various types of makeup and makeup brushes sit atop a worksheet from a stage makeup class.

Elgin Community College provides many nontraditional opportunities for students, and late start classes are a prime example. 

Intro to Theatre History and Lit started on February 22nd, which is later than most classes this semester. The decision to delay the course was a result of COVID-19’s impact on class scheduling. 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 graduated with a Master’s degree in Theatre Lit and Criticism from Bowling Green State University. 

Larocque makes it clear that the course’s name should not ward off any potential students. 

“My goal is to make things interesting, provocative, and thought-inducing,” Larocque says. “Just because history is in the name doesn’t mean it is boring or uninteresting.”

In this class, students explore the relationship between a culture’s entertainment and its values in order to understand the commentary they have on each other. Different cultures at different points in time are examined, along with corresponding historical events. 

Every week, students look at a play then complete an assignment. Assignments range from online search activities to discussion boards 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 me lecturing,” Larocque said. “I would rather have students explore these texts and explore the resources around these texts.”

Through content that is engaging and relevant, students develop writing, research, and literary analysis skills.

“I really want students to leave this course with an appreciation of how impactful theater and plays and other forms of entertainment are on our culture,” says Larocque. “I think my goal is to have them leave this class appreciating how powerful some of these forms of entertainment really were.”

Stage Makeup is another late start course, which starts on March 19th with an in-person format. Originally meant to start at the beginning of the semester, it was changed to an 8-week class because of the Omicron spike. 

The course will be taught by Emily Brink, who graduated with a Master’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Her focus was costume design, and she currently is a freelance costume designer. 

The class teaches a new aspect of storytelling through the exploration of makeup applications. 

“Makeup is a huge part of characterization in the same way that costumes are,” Brink said. “With makeup it is a really clear and really literal application of this is what the character is.”

Students will learn the foundations of how to apply basic stage makeup and corrective makeup. Additionally, they will learn fantasy makeup applications and have the opportunity to design their own creative and original looks. 

These skills are crucial for actors because when working behind the scenes of a production performers may need to apply their own makeup. 

“One of the things that the textbook we’re working from emphasizes more than anything else is that a lot of the time there’s a costume designer but there may not be a makeup artist, so actors need to have that skill,” said Brink. “It is really quite crucial.”

Performers are not the only target audience. People who are interested in theatrical design or have a passion for makeup and are seeking to develop further knowledge would benefit from learning stage makeup application.

Brink expressed that the best way to approach this course is with a creative mindset. Asking distinctive questions, exploring unique ideas, and learning new skills with an open mind are key ways to yield the most results. 

Brink wants people to know that the entertainment industry is not one to be undermined or belittled. 

“I think that the way that our society is set up right now unfortunately is really hellbent on telling people that the only valuable trade that they can learn is in math and science, it just simply is not true,” Brink expressed. “The pandemic reminded a lot of people how important entertainment is.” 

When it comes to late start classes, Brink assures students that they should not be intimidated by the limited time frame. She describes it as an opportunity to learn more material in a faster manner.