“At first, it put me out of my comfort zone because I was nervous to be in front of people, and I felt vulnerable, but after we got to know each other well, it was a really fun thing, and it became really normal to be ridiculous,” she said. “It was a lot of work, but it was totally worth it, and it’s been probably one of my favorite classes at UNC.”
For the first half of the course, students worked together to create approximately 200 sketches based on different grammatical principles. The students, who are required to pass an interview for enrollment, become a tight-knit group during the semester.
Senior Annie Harrison said the process was highly collaborative.
“We get into pairs and small groups, and we would meet outside of class and brainstorm ideas for what the exercise was and write the whole script together,” she said.
Students spent the latter half of the semester cutting down the number of skits to about 40 and honing their performance skills. This portion of the class sees guest appearances from Kenan-Flagler Business School professor Gregory Hohn, who teaches Applied Improv and carries over these principles for Gram-O-Rama participants.
While grammar would seem like a logical strength for the class of creative writers, theatrics were challenging.
“Most of the students in the class weren’t actors, so it’s been challenging, but we’ve also taken a lot of time not just into the writing of it but into the performance as well and perfecting the performance. It’s not just going to be some kids reading off of a script of something we wrote in class,” O’Connor said. “It’s probably going to be more fun than you’d expect a grammar show to be.”
But the nerves are all but gone for the 13 student performers, and the result is an offbeat take on grammatical conventions and rules.
“Our sort of sound bite for the class was that it’s ‘grammar as performance art,’” Gingher said.