Drama Professor Joe Mattys
A.C.T. for a slideshow of photos.
All smiles: Students in the "Masks and Acting" workshop.
“We think we’re pretty good at judging people,” says Randolph-Macon College
Drama Professor Joe Mattys. “But we’re all actors—we put on masks and we
frequently act. We try to project a certain face.”
In one hand he holds a colorful mask, painted and glittered to the extreme. Sitting
in a semi-circle in front of him are seven high-school students enrolled in a week-long
Arts for Change Today (A.C.T.) camp.
They listen intently, and, prompted by Mattys to describe the imaginary “character”
behind the mask, offer a range of suggestions. Mattys encourages them to speak up,
and assures them that there are no wrong answers.
“What happens behind the mask is always more interesting,” says Mattys, who led
the students through an hour-long workshop, “Masks and Acting,” that drew analogies
between literal and figurative masks.
A.C.T. for a slideshow of photos.
The workshop is just one of many that A.C.T. offered July 24-30, 2011
at Randolph-Macon College. The non-profit camp, spearheaded by R-MC students and
alumni, was a unique opportunity for participants to learn about diversity and tolerance.
The camp was funded through a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace Grant awarded to
Cassie Morgan ’12, Derek Gayle ’11, Jill Porcelli
’11, Melissa Mowry ’11, and Tommy Proffitt ’11,
who collaborated to create A.C.T.
Davis Projects for Peace is an initiative for undergraduate students to design projects
that promote peace and address the root causes of conflict. Grant applicants are
encouraged to use innovative techniques to engage participants in ways that focus
on conflict resolution, building understanding, breaking down barriers that cause
conflict, and finding ways to resolve conflict. The grant is issued to only 100
groups each year. R-MC student volunteers assured that the week went by smoothly.
Elizabeth Jean ’13 volunteered to help with A.C.T. because she
was “eager to see what was in store” for the campers. A drama major, Jean helped
set up workshops and supervise students between classes and on field trips. She
also participated in discussions about diversity.
Participants enjoyed a multitude of activities throughout the week. In Professor
Ray Berry’s Studio Art class, they used clay,
calligraphy and paint to discover how art is created in a purposeful way. Berry
also served as faculty advisor for the project. Students also took drama, creative
writing and dance classes, and they toured the Richmond Holocaust Museum and the
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
“We want to promote peace through the study of artistic diversity and also give
back to R-MC by reaching out to the community,” says Tommy Proffitt ’11.
“Participants learned about Aikido, a Japanese martial art; they learned the ins
and outs of writing a novel; and they crafted blankets as part of a community-service
project.” The blankets will be donated to The United Methodist Family Services,
an organization that provides adoption services, foster care services and a number
of other services in the community. The A.C.T. founders will deliver the blankets
to the Richmond UMFS affiliate.
Additional R-MC faculty and staff who helped make A.C.T. a success include: Jack
Trammell (Disability Support Services), Maria Jose Bordera (Spanish),
Jennifer Shotwell (French),
Leslie Shiel (English), James McGhee (student
life), and Mayumi Nakamura (office of international
education). In addition, Caroline County high-school teachers Amber
French and Ray Carver were integral to the camp’s success.