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Marquis Scholar Terrence Monte ’03 (Valhalla, N.Y.) has just accepted an offer to attend one of the most prestigious acting programs in the country at University of Iowa, where he will pursue a master’s in fine arts.

Monte, a mechanical engineering major and theater minor, recently appeared in the College Theater production of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children. He acted in Mother Courage as part of an independent study with Suzanne Westfall, professor of English. The study included research about the time period of the play, originally set in Germany during the 30 Years War but adapted for this production, and research into Brecht’s life.

Westfall is coeditor of Theatrical Patronage in Shakespeare’s England, published this year by Cambridge University Press, and author of Patrons and Performance: Early Tudor Household Revels. In addition to publishing articles in books and journals, Westfall has presented her research at forums held by Leeds University (England), Medieval Conference, Group for Early Modern Cultural Studies, and Shakespeare Association of America. She has directed more than a dozen plays at Lafayette.

In Mother Courage, Monte played The Chaplain, a nameless character who initially believes the war is a righteous holy war, but by the end has been defeated and lost his faith. The actors had only three and a half weeks to rehearse for the show, which ran from March 5-8.

“Brecht is incredibly interesting to act,” says Monte. “He invented the idea of Epic Theatre, which removes the audience from the action of the play and forces them to think about the ideas the playwright is presenting. He uses a technique known as ‘alienation’ to constantly remove the empathy of the audience.”

The style goes against the grain of hundreds of years of Aristotelian Theater, the Greek tradition that aims to leave audiences with a feeling of complete catharsis. Brecht’s purpose was to substitute logos for pathos, or thought for feeling.

“Terrence is a very smart actor with good instincts, and takes direction very well,” says Westfall. She says Monte, along with the other actors, came a long way with his character in Mother Courage.

“They’re used to realism and melodic songs, and Brecht requires techniques with very challenging, dissonant music,” explains Westfall. “It took a while for Terrence to abandon Stanislavsky (traditional acting) approaches for psychological motivations and to think in terms of expressionistic gestures, but he’s really got it now. He tries new things without feeling inhibited, and that’s how you grow as an actor.”

Likewise, Monte says he is “more than happy to be working with such a capable and intelligent director. Professor Westfall has set up a tiring schedule; however, she never seems to lose energy and enthusiasm for the work.”

Monte is also immersed in an intensive year-long study on the various productions of J.M. Synge’s early 20th century play, Playboy of the Western World, through Lafayette’s EXCEL Scholars program, in which students collaborate with faculty on research while earning a stipend. He is assisting Michael O’Neill, director of theater, with initial research for a book he is writing about Playboy of the Western World. He is also undertaking an independent study this semester with O’Neill, during which he will act in The Real Inspector Hound April 23-26.

Monte is vice president of scholarship and head of the judicial board for his fraternity, Delta Upsilon. He is public relations chair for Interfraternity Council and serves on the Lafayette Arts Advisory Board, which focuses on bringing entertainment and learning to Lafayette. He plays intramural racquetball and basketball, and is involved in a senior project designing an H-VAC system for Delta Upsilon. He spent the summer interning at Proctor & Gamble, and traveled to South America during the January interim session to take a special Lafayette course.

Categorized in: Academic News