Three ladies walked into Art Studio 137, the spoken word class taught by Kip Fulbeck and Elizabeth Folk. The first woman thought that she already knew how to rock the spotlight, the second thought that she could never spill secrets onstage and the third had only just learned about the class. All three have grown immensely since that fateful first day; next Friday, June 7, they and their classmates will show the public what they’ve learned. This quarter’s class show, “Breath Implants: An Evening of Spoken Word,” happens at 7 p.m. at the MCC Theater.
At age four, Darcey Lachtman began singing lessons, mostly focusing on Broadway show tunes until she became a preteen and decided pop songs were more fun. She immersed herself in five different kinds of competitive dance up until her last year of high school, and also found free time to compete as a gymnast. Naturally, this athletic stage guru asserted herself to be a pretty good performer. Then she took “Spoken Word.”
“The first assignment was to take a pop song out of context, which sounded so simple. I did ‘Let’s Get It On’ and I only practiced twice before I went up. Of course I wrecked it. I was shaking,” said Lachtman. “I’ve been comfortable onstage before – but with singing and dancing, which is usually not something you made [on your own]. You didn’t create it. Spoken word is totally different.”
Natalie Earhart’s first and only onstage role was back in elementary school, when she played Martha Washington. Granted, that was the performance’s leading lady, but Earhart was by no means a seasoned actress, and admitted she was a bit awkward.
Having since taken professor Fulbeck’s other classes, “Art Studio 7A: Art & Life” and “Personal Narrative,” she has nurtured a healthy path to performance art. Now she has the ability to shine onstage with as more assurance than a self-proclaimed awkward girl should be able to muster.
“I attribute all of my confidence in [performance] to Kip. Spoken word was never something I thought I wanted to do. But it’s so exhilarating,” said Earhart. “I still wouldn’t call myself a performer, but I’m so different now than when I started the art major. Classes like this have changed me a lot.”
Vanessa Barajas did two plays in middle school, sticking to roles out of the spotlight. In college, her public speaking experience was limited to announcing events for campus organizations.
“Spoken word is so different from making announcements in class. This is your personal story. To say that in front of a lot of people — it’s an amazing feeling,” said Barajas.
The students shared that on the first day of “Spoken Word,” each person had to speak for one minute about something interesting without saying staples like “um” or “like.”
With sixty seconds on the clock, Lachtman yammered in lightning speed about being disappointed in a friend and Earhart delved into the woes of the pressure to drink in Isla Vista. Barajas hit an emotional nerve, speaking about what life was going to be like after graduation while shedding a few tears.
“Kip broke the emotion out in me,” said Barajas. “He’s a very present professor, meaning he’s always in your face, in a good way. He pushes you to be better and get out of your comfort zone.”
A lot has changed since those 60 seconds. After eight weeks of exercise warm-ups, endless out-of-the-classroom practice sessions, and painstakingly detailed personal evaluations, these three ladies are proud performers in “Breath Implants,” which promises to be a dynamic and highly-polished show. Earhart, Lachtman and Barajas say they have gotten the affectedly-poetic and somewhat corny pieces about “bad boys” and drama out of their systems. Now they are just ready to make fellow students laugh.
Here’s a sneak preview of what the show will entail: condoms, cringing, something Lachtman did that got caught on video (whoops!) and … something scary … something on the human body (moles? I don’t know — they wouldn’t tell me).
“Breath Implants” promises to live up to the incredible reputation of Art Studio 137’s quarterly performances. In fact, it will be so good that anyone interested in going is advised to get there at least half an hour early. These shows always manage to fill the MCC’s cozy theater to the brim and leave even the least poetically-inclined audience members thrilled that they came.
So come enjoy the free food, drinks and monumental performances. And remember:
“Get there early, and sit in the front,” said Earhart. “It’s going to get packed.”
Graphic courtesy of Leah Scott-Kirby
A version of this article appeared on page 11 of May 30th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.