By Guinevere Hilton
On October 13 and 14 Brewster’s drama students and members of the community were treated to a master class and guest teaching by Kris Kukul. Kris is a New York City-based music director/composer/arranger/orchestrator and conductor. Kris graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (a classmate) where he currently teaches. He also has served as the music director of the Williamstown Theater for 10 seasons and has worked internationally in a variety of theaters, with HBO Films, and his work has debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Despite his impressive experience and resume, what was really wonderful about this opportunity was the warmth, clarity, and intuitive direction he shared with the students. Kris began his master class on Thursday night in Anderson with a movement warm up that got everyone out of their heads and into their bodies. This warm up brought laughter and energized the group, which consisted of about 10 students and six members of the Village Players, Wolfeboro’s community theater. Kris taught the group a choral piece in parts and then moved on to solo work. Most of the participants had brought a solo piece to work on with Kris. He spent a great deal of time working individually with students to help them learn how to bring the song to life, how to breathe and sing, and how to tell a story with the song. Kris focused on acting the song and getting at the story and the emotion of the piece, which freed up the student singer from feeling stressed about how “good” of a singer they were.
Kris followed up Thursday’s session with a visit to acting class on Friday. He worked with the students on movement and rhythm. He challenged them and engaged them in a way that took them out of their comfort zone but kept the tone playful. He was able to keep them on their toes, get them moving and laughing, and kept their focus razor sharp as he led them through the exercises.
The students benefitted greatly from Kris’ energy, enthusiasm, and expertise – and he was impressed with their attention, kindness, and respect. We were grateful to have him, and look forward to more visits in the future, hopefully as an artist in residence.