Belanna

English major Belanna Morales

“Does inspiration exist? Is there some kind of guaranteed way to be inspired, to produce ‘good’ work?” Junior English major Belanna Morales aimed to answer these questions in her audio essay on what inspires writers.

“I was curious if it was random and luck, or if it was hard work or if there was something in the world that causes inspiration,” Morales said.

Throughout Misty Krueger’s English 201 class, “Public Writing,” students have learned what public writing is and how to become engaged with it. Public writing is exactly that: writing for the public, and more targeted audiences. The course emphasizes writing for the Web and public relations, and includes work in producing audio essays.

Morales, a member of the class, was unsure of where to begin. “I was stuck, so I thought to myself, what do I have in my toolbox? I study English/Creative Writing, I work as a writing tutor [at Mantor Library] and see people struggle, so I thought of ways I could help them write essays.”

From there, she delved into navigating between investigating her questions on inspiration and the software used to compile the finished product.

“One of the hardest things was figuring out how to use the software; the longest process was putting it together and making sure it sounded pretty flawless,” Morales said.

For her essay, Morales interviewed English professor Kristen Case and two students. They agreed that yes sometimes things do come to you, and especially things from your past can inspire you, but you have to make it work

“One quote I highlight is from Kristen Case, who actually quoted [Pablo] Picasso; ‘Inspiration has to find you when you’re working,’”

One quote that did not make it into the final essay from English/Creative Writing major Annie Moloney echoes this sentiment; “Writing is a ‘labor of love,’ and you need to put in the work to see your inspiration become reality.”

“For example, the more you read, the better you write,” Morales added.

For Morales personally, she revealed that inspiration comes to her from memories or images she encounters throughout the day. “I’ll be inspired by a series of events and think ‘oh I hadn’t thought of that before,’ and I’ll write about that.”

In addition to investigating inspiration, tackling such an interactive format allowed Morales to see the ways in which audio and spoken word can add to the written word.

“One friend commented that my essay sounded like a documentary because of the mix of me and clips of my interviews. My listeners can get a direct comparison of what they’re saying [out loud vs. on paper],” she said. “You can’t hear [people’s] voices when you write a paper. and you can’t always have three quotes in a row.”

In addition to adding more depth to the written word, Morales observed that audio and talking out loud can break down mental barriers.

“Normally I don’t enjoy talking to strangers. I find conversation difficult, but this time it wasn’t that way,” she said. “I was so interested, any barriers I would put on myself beforehand kind of disappeared.”

“Sometimes there’s a barrier between your mind and the screen,” she added. “[During tutoring], people will be like, ‘I don’t know what to say,’ and they’ll tell me what they want to say and I’ll be like, ‘that’s great! Write that down!’ It’s great to take down that barrier; people don’t feel so much pressure to phrase things a certain way when they’re talking.”

Although she is not sure when she’ll have the opportunity to do another project like this, Morales said that she would like to do more audio essays in the future.

“Everyone should take this class!” Morales exclaimed with a laugh.

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UMF Student Theatre Celebrates Shakespeare with Performance of Hamlet

The lights dimmed as two guards, Bernardo and Marcellus, emerged on top of the ramparts of the castle Elsinore. Suddenly, the stage floor was blanketed in a bright green fog, as the sentries, now joined by Horatio, bore witness to the ghost of King Hamlet.

Hamlet was one of the UMF’s biggest shows ever produced, and the cast boasted several English majors and one professor. English major Julie Guerra portrayed Laertes, the brother of Ophelia, and Professor Dan Gunn took on the role of Polonius, a chief counsellor of the King and the father of Laertes and Ophelia.

Guerra has been in many shows during her time at UMF, including Wait Until Dark, Letters, and a student directed play called Home Free. Hamlet was her first Shakespeare performance, but she’s been a fan for years.

Laertes and Claudius

English major Julie Guerra as Laertes

“It was senior year high school that I had a really great class with a teacher who loved Shakespeare,” Guerra remarked with a chuckle. “Since then, I’ve really loved Shakespeare too.”

A member of Student Theatre at UMF (STUMF), Guerra knew going into the auditions that she wanted to play the part of Laertes.

“I wanted to get involved with the sword fighting!” she exclaimed. “The combat was weird to learn because I’m not a very angry person, but [after] stepping into the character and learning, it became muscle memory and it was really fun.”

Guerra showcased this combat training particularly well during Laertes’s and Hamlet’s final duel before Claudius and Gertrude. She was also able to demonstrate her understanding of Laertes’s emotions and motives as the poison tipped blade was thrust into Hamlet’s chest, in order to avenge the deaths of Ophelia and Polonius.

Unlike Guerra, Gunn’s first theatre performance experience consisted of scenes from various Shakespeare works with the UMF honors program, directed by Jayne Decker, who also directed Hamlet.

“About 15-20 years ago, Jayne Decker wanted to do some scenes from Shakespeare with the honors program and she thought faculty involvement would be fun,” Gunn said. “[There were] three or four faculty members, the students. I played the part of Hamlet’s Ghost in those days.”

Polonius

Dan Gunn (second from right) as Polonius

In addition to playing Polonius, Gunn served as the dramaturge for the cast. The dramaturge is someone who knows about the play, teaches the cast about the play, and meets individually with actors to go over lines and reflect on their meanings.

“During rehearsal, I would talk to people about lines, or people would ask me questions,” Gunn said. “There was a funny moment; when we rehearsed the part where I die on stage, the actors were struggling with capturing the sense of madness. Jonas [Maines], who played Hamlet, stopped to ask a question. I got up to explain and then laid back down to keep playing dead,” he recalled with a fond smile.

Guerra and Gunn both agreed that performing Hamlet as opposed to simply reading it helped to further their understanding of Shakespeare and the art of theatre as a whole.

“Actually performing it is so much more emotional, less cerebral. Hamlet especially is full of emotional shifts and deep and complicated feelings,” Gunn said. “Teaching [Hamlet] as though it were a poem, I look at it more cerebrally, thinking about the cold art of it, whereas it just seems more connected to feeling in the body with me now since I’ve had the experience of acting some of these parts.”

“I think there is a difference between just reading Shakespeare and performing Shakespeare,” Guerra said. “It is a different view of the work, and you start to love the characters a bit more, especially when you work with them for such a long time.”

In addition to understanding the play on another level, Guerra also appreciated the opportunity to work with professor Gunn outside the classroom.

“Dan Gunn is great; I had a class with him. He would meet with us to learn lines, and then he played my character’s father on stage,” she said. “It was cool to interact with professors in a way that wasn’t super academic. There’s camaraderie in being cast mates as opposed to just seeing each other in class.”

Although Guerra and Gunn stated that their educations in English gave them tools to work with in regards to deciphering Shakespeare’s language, it was still a learning experience for both.

“A lot of [English] majors are into theatre, and I think Hamlet and Shakespeare is what drew them to participate,” Gunn said. “I feel it is an honor to perform Hamlet because of how crucial it has been to the English literature since the 17th century, and I think a lot of English students felt that importance as well.”

“There really isn’t a limit to what English majors can become involved in,” Guerra said. “English majors are pretty open to anything.”