Comments from the students involved

Man, oh man. First, this was a terrific experience, and I, in every way, attribute its success to your approaches to both teaching and structuring the class. Next, while I enjoyed some of the plays and not necessarily all of them, I would normally pay admission for entertainment of this caliber. Thanks again for teaching this class. I don't think it could've gone any better.

Whoa, I just came back from doing the final performance. That was seriously intense. All I am capable of saying at this time was HOLY CRAP, THAT WAS AMAZING!

Accomplishment. We really were so proud of not only ourselves but our classmates as well. The best part was watching the students who never previously stepped foot on a stage. You could see a little part of them light up and realize "Now I know why all those crazy drama kids in high school were always having so much fun." It's one thing to understand why your stomach is in knots a few minutes before you go onstage, but something else entirely to see others experiencing it for the first time. There were people pacing in what I like to call the "lobby", telling you just how nervous they were, but there were also the quiet ones sitting on the couch, who kept looking at their watch and listening to each second tick closer to their stage time. Some people needed their hands held and to be calmed down, while others just leaned against the wall running lines in their heads, sure that they would forget them once in front of an audience.

I could write four more pages about our play. I could write about how I thought it would never come together and finally did. I could write about how each of the cast members really learned something about themselves as an actress during this semester. I could write about how close the cast members became. I could even write about how proud and anxious they were to perform together. But, like I said, it would probably take four more pages, and, if anyone reading this saw the performance, they could probably figure it all out for themselves.

The audience was receptive to what was going on and to see the story we were trying to convey click in their minds and I was shocked to find that I just appreciated that so much. I don't remember wanting so bad to make something GOOD and I'll have nothing but good thoughts when I think back on how fun it was to have this opportunity.  It was an absolute joy to be in this class and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

These shows were the perfect ending to a great semester.  We all worked so hard toward each of our shows.  I enjoyed performing and watching my fellow classmates.  My family attended and it was just a great night.  I can't believe how we went from sitting in a circle in class to having a part in a one-act.  Thank you so much for your help and guidance. I had a great time, and never thought in a million years that I would have a part in a show... but now I have and I'm so proud of myself!

Thanks for a great semester. I really did enjoy myself and had a great time having you as a director. I love your set-up and was very relieved when I found out I wouldn't have to do monologues. One-acts are much more fun, exciting, and beneficial.

Possibly my most interesting, fun-filled, time-demanding class... thanks Chris for educating without teaching... the change was refreshing.

Just wanted to say thanks for the excellent experience and encouraging me to go through with the play.

I just wanted to say that this class was so much fun. I feel like I learned a lot about how much work acting takes and I became such good friends with everyone.  Our show was so much fun to put on. It felt like I was on stage for 30 seconds and then it was all over.  I definitely surprised myself in taking this class.  At the beginning of the semester when I saw how many lines there were and how everything overlapped I thought it was going to be impossible. I like your method with "impulses", even though it took me a while to understand it. I could definitely feel by the end when things sounded right or when we "dropped" one or the lines "popped".

I have really enjoyed this class and thank you for giving us such a fun and valuable experience. You have helped me realize how much fun acting is and how natural it can be.

Thanks for all the time you put into making these acts work so well.  I really enjoyed this semester.

We had a blast!  I learned a lot more than I ever thought I could.

You have taught me so very much!  I truly have begun to understand a lot not only about acting, but life in general.

Thank you for helping me out.  I feel much better when I act now and less embarrassed.  I already recommended you to my friends.

I loved the course.  I loved doing the one-acts because it helped me work with others better.  I love acting now and am no longer afraid of performing in front of others.

Chris's eccentricity makes the class enjoyable to come to.  I left class every day with a smile on my face.  Kudos Chris-- wish I could take the class again!

Sometimes I wasn't able to keep up with his level of hyperactivity, but in most instances, his liveliness helped me overcome my painful introvertedness.  It was by far the most fun I've had all semester.  I want to take it again!

Chris helped me break my fear of stage fright.  Best teacher and class ever!

This class is my favorite so far.  Everyone should get a chance to be in a class like this.

Chris knows how to explain what we're doing with the shows so that the work is actually comprehensible.  He has been able to endow his students with the skills necessary to present a successful show.  This course is the one that has most improved my acting skills here at the University.  As far as overall enjoyment of performing, too, this class wins the prize.  The work I have done in this class and the progress I have seen students make impresses me far more than some of what I saw in my other acting classes.  The work here is honest rather than contrived and, to me, that's what the theater is all about.

Chris created a stress-free environment in which learning the skills and material was made the focus rather than making the grade.  To be honest, I believe this course was taught as best as it could be.  I really did not find any teaching practices that hindered learning whatsoever.  I feel I have learned very much in the course, including acting skills that are natural and will stay with me for a long while.  The course was excellent and Chris' teaching methods superb.

I absolutely loved this course.  It was challenging and insightful.  I took this course because I'm shy and I'm glad I really showed myself what I can be capable of.

I suggest to everyone to take this class who wants to have great fun and have the opportunity to participate in a REAL ACTING CLASS.

I liked his willingness to tailor his teaching to his students.  I don't feel as if I'm being "taught", so to speak, but that he's just tapped my dormant potential.  It was fun and enlightening.  It opened a love of acting I didn't know I had.  Chris was my favorite teacher this semester.

Chris' greatest attribute is that he trusts his students and respects us to do our best, which really fosters an environment of respect.  This course was amazing.

I think that this specific method of teaching the course, devoting all resources to one performance, is far superior.  In fact, friends that have taken the "traditional" class felt shortchanged when informed of the nature of Chris' methods.

Chris is awesome; the plays we do really depict how acting should really be learned and also what actors really do.  Although acting is subjective and Chris only grades on effort, he inspires students to reach their full potential in a very accepting and nurturing environment.

Over the top energy!!!  (Maybe just a li'l too much!)  Hah, it's obviously not my strong suit, but with such a strong example coming from you I was able to pick up quite a few things.  Your method of acting really makes it seem that every actor was born to play his/her role.  I've learned that even if a director wants a specific type, I can give him what he wants and still keep my identity.

I enjoyed this course immensely!  As an Econ major I thought his course was a nice retreat from the stress of conventional classes.  I felt I learned more about human relations than I did theater, and look!  We ended up with an astounding play!

He is so enthusiastic and cares so much about the success of his students.  His ability to bring out our abilities and feed off our own knowledge instead of a boring lecture helps us learn so much more.  Some times he was too nice when people would miss class, but it worked out fine in the end.

I had no acting experience before this class, but I feel I could walk into an audition and feel confident in what I could do.  Talking to others that have taken similar classes, I have learned so much more!

He used his own techniques to teach us that we are who we are.  We can't change our thinking process, but instead modify it in order to achieve a character.  This was an amazing course.  In my three years down here, I have never had as much fun in a class as I did here.  We did work and it was actually fun.  I've come out from this class with more knowledge and wisdom than I have ever gotten in any other class.

Chris has taught me more about acting in one semester than I learned in four years at high school.  He cares abut his students and what he does and it shows.  This is one of the best courses I have taken in my four years at the University of Florida.

Chris' experience and enthusiasm were able to motivate not just myself but also the most slacking of the slackers.

He was able to connect with us while maintaining a professional attitude.  He was so compassionate and real about acting.  Nothing was too complicated or impossible to grasp.

I think yours was everyone's favorite class.

Overall, these shows were incredible. I would never have thought I would have been able to do this at the beginning of the semester.

Thanks for doing such an awesome job with our classes. I can tell you put a lot of work and energy into this production. This means a lot, because many times teachers don't put in as much effort into the classes that students take just for an elective, instead of their major. I can tell you have a real passion for acting.

Overall I never really cared for theatre but I honestly had fun and enjoyed working on and watching these shows. I think it is very impressive what you were able to do with students that had very little to no acting experience like myself. Thanks for the good times this semester.

All in all, I thought the performances were outstanding. For a group of non-actors, I thought the one acts were fantastic. The first night of performing, I was definitely surprised at the level of each performance. Chris, you did an amazing job. Thank you for taking the time with us and having such an optimistic attitude. It definitely helped. You're a great director and a fun guy. Thanks again and GREAT JOB!!!

Comment from the assistant director, written for the program

Tonight there will be no Acting majors on stage. There will be English majors, Psychology majors, Criminology majors, Political Science majors, and even athletes. That is not to say the performers you see tonight are not actors. Many of them have had a very successful theatrical career in high school or in community theater. However, they made the intelligent decision (unlike some of us) to pursue an education that would lead to a successful career.

(pause for laughter)

There are also quite a few performers tonight who have never acted before, but I challenge you to find them.

What Chris Aruffo has done this semester (and last) is to introduce the key elements that turn a normal reading of lines on paper into a truly theatrical event. Be it impulses, natural (conversational) reading, character development, or risk taking, Chris finds ways to introduce every aspect of acting to students who have previously never heard of acting technique.

The most unfortunate aspect of Chris's ground-breaking approach is that while it fits in a University setting (where it can be experimented with), it is not widely accepted as the "proper" technique. Chris believes that there is no such thing as talent, that it doesn't take a certain kind of person to be an actor. He has proven this to me time and time again throughout the semester. I came into his afternoon class in order to observe his teaching and directing methods and have been surprised every day by the risks his students take, the choices and discoveries they make, and the growth they experience as actors.

I'll let you decide. Can you tell the difference between the new actors and the somewhat-seasoned actors? Can you tell the difference between the vignettes you see tonight and the scenes you see in your acting classes? I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.