Center for Wellness in the Arts provides exercise training for student actors

With help from Marshall University’s Center for Wellness in the Arts, student performers will be more than ready for the fight scenes of Romeo and Juliet on April 20.

Student actors in the College of Arts and Media have undergone intense exercise training in the university’s Human Performance Laboratory to prepare for the physicality of their roles, according to Nicole Perrone, director of the production and associate professor of acting and movement at Marshall.

"Since August 2014, the Center for Wellness in the Arts (CWA) has given performing arts students the chance to work with certified athletic trainers and health science experts to prevent injury from occurring during performances," Perrone said. "The CWA has continued to provide specialized rehabilitative care and injury prevention to our student musicians, vocalists, dancers and, of course, the actors and actresses of our upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet."

Austin Holmes, a graduate student in the exercise physiology program, has been assisting with the development of the actors’ performance-enhancement training. Holmes said this is the first study of its kind and he plans to use what he’s learned in his thesis.

"We’ve looked at so many peer-reviewed articles and there are none that try to replicate or study how actors are trained to improve in different parameters, especially in sword fighting," Holmes said. "We came up with a pre-test to gauge reaction times and we have them continuously do this and practice them each week. We hope to see a significant improvement in hand reaction time and sword reaction time using various tests."

Cast as Romeo, Tim Woda, a senior theatre performance student, said he can tell a difference since training began.

"A lot of this training helps with balance and agility and endurance, which will all be very helpful because of all the fighting in the show," Woda said. "I’ve definitely had an increase of energy."

Marshall University Theatre’s production of Romeo and Juliet opens at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 20, in the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. Performances will continue through April 23. Student tickets are free with MU ID. Adult tickets are $20, $15 for seniors and $7 for children. For tickets and other information, please call the theatre box office at 304-696-2787.

To learn more about Marshall’s Center for Wellness in the Arts and the services offered to student performers, visit online.


Photo: Tim Woda (left) is shown holding a 25 lb. weight while moving over hurdles to train for his role as Romeo in the April production of Romeo and Juliet.