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Comedic director gives Theatre students some serious training

The FLC Theatre building will be home to guest director Rima Miller this semester.

The FLC Theatre building will be home to visiting instructor Rima Miller this semester.

Being funny is a workout, says actress and director Rima Miller. That's why while she's instructing Theatre students in physical comedy, she's also having her students exercise to prepare for their roles, holding a regular two-hour night class to learn new exercises.

"I'm teaching basics of that style of acting -- how to use the body in a funny way -- that requires learning timing, movement, and how to relate to the audience," says Miller. "Physical training is required to be able to do this, so we do that, too."

Miller is this semester's visiting instructor in the Department of Theatre’s Guest Artist Series. The Series gives students opportunities to work with national and international practitioners of specific theatre forms and network with professionals in the theatre industry.

Rima Miller

"This is a completely new workshop that I have never experienced before. I thought I already loved doing comedy shows, but Rima gives it a totally new twist," says Interdisciplinary Studies major Mary Quinn. "I love learning how to interact with the audience and actually design the comedy in the show. Working with Rima is extremely valuable to me. I am a Senior this year and plan on moving to Chicago this summer to continue my education in comedy."

Now living in Santa Fe, Miller has worked in theatre, video, film, TV, print & radio, and even circus arts, as an instructor, performer, director, author, choreographer, and voice-over actor. While at FLC, she will be teaching acting techniques and directing a play that features physical comedy. Miller's and the students' work together will culminate in a production of the comedy "The Imaginary Invalid," the story of a hypochondriac and the effect his obsession and self-indulgence has on himself and those around him.

"This is a phenomenal opportunity for our students to learn some physical theatre techniques that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to learn," says Theatre Department Chair Kathryn Moller. "Rima teaches with so much heart and skill that this is an experience that our students will always remember, and use. This clearly gives them an advantage in their future career journeys."

"The commedia dell'arte that Miller will be focusing on while here is an Italian form of comedy dating back to the 16th century. The physical comedy we do today comes from that era, and so does slapstick and Vaudeville and others," explains Miller. Which is why, she says, she appreciates this chance to explore and share this theatrical tradition as a guest artist. "I don't think a lot of colleges are doing this kind of training in physical comedy," she says. "It takes foresight and creativity to understand how valuable this is."

Which is also what she expects from her semester at FLC. "It's always a joy to educate a new group of people to this way of working because it never fails to raise the bar of physical intelligence as well as intellectual intelligence," she says. "It's very inspirational. I like to see the students grow."

Learn more about the Fort Lewis College Theatre Department.

Performance schedule for "The Imaginary Invalid"


April 15, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14 at 7:30 PM.


Mainstage Theatre, Theatre Building, Fort Lewis College
1000 Rim Drive, Durango, CO


Adult: $12.00
Faculty/Staff: $10.00
Senior (65 and over): $10.00
Student/Child: $7.00

Click here for ticket information.

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