September 22, 2013

Week 6

By Robert
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Sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…


Mondays and Thursdays have been turned over to our Scene Study rehearsals until the end of term so the morning was spent feeding back the research we’d done about the play and our character. There was also some ‘free time’ in which we went through our scenes with our partners working out what was going on, discussing ‘units’ and ‘objectives’ ready for a rehearsal in the afternoon where we performed the scene to the rest of the group.


Tuesday started with Sight Reading in which we moved on from monologues to duologues. My partner and I were first up to perform our scene after reading it through only once. Our tutor then highlighted some aspects we missed or could develop further (essentially telling us “do what the stage directions say and it makes a lot more sense”).

Storytelling was next and we finished off the stories from last week before moving onto an exercise where we had to act out the ideas and emotions of our own story without using any words. This was tricky for me because my story was more of a moment of realisation (the moment in a piano lesson where the patterns of scales, arpeggios, chords etc all seemed to click and from then on music and its theory etc just made sense). I turned it into a sort of visual metaphor and pretended I was moving further along a dark corridor with each subsequent attempt before finding a door, pushing through it and discovering a vast expanse where everything was very bright and clear. It seemed to get the idea across.

After lunch, we had our second Laban class where we explored styles of movement (tense, loose etc) and the effect they can have on the body and an audience.

Finally was the first of three voice classes this week. At the moment we’re working on resonance and we did several exercises to explore this and began applying it to text.

In the evening I was lucky to tag along with Bridget and the rest of the Michael Grandage Company Futures Company to see the press night of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was a fun evening and really interesting to compare and contrast the production with the Globe one from a couple of weeks ago. If I’m honest, I preferred the Globe’s. Maybe because it was the first time I’ve seen the play and I was much much closer to the stage, but I found it much funnier and the text clearer to understand. The ‘sleb-spotting’ was more fun at the MGC production though!


Singing kicked us off on Wednesday and the realisation really began to dawn that our a cappella performance was not where it should be in order to perform it in a couple of weeks…

Improvisation this week was with the awesome Chris Ash, one of the musicians from Shopstopper! the Improvised Musical (and other projects). We were learning about improvising songs and after lots of rhythm and impro warm up exercises, we moved on to improvising talking over a beat and improvising simple blues verses. After that we had the chance to improvise a scene which could lead to a song. I was really excited to have a go and my partner and I ended up developing a scene about two vets saving a hamster and it lead to a triumphant song (with a verse and catchy chorus!) called “We’re Vets, We’re Vets (we save other people’s animals)”. It went down really well even though we managed to completely avoid the obvious rhyme with ‘pets’! It was the most exciting thing I’ve done so far at DSL. I got such a buzz from doing it. A few of us are hoping to do some more musical impro in our own time. It’s definitely something I am desperate to do more of.

Voice was in the theatre and we did some more resonance exercises (one involving throwing tennis balls to our partner which just seemed to complicate things and distract us from our voices!) and performed a short scene to the rest of the class before being coached to produce a more resonant sound. It turns out that I put my speaking voice lower than it should be in order to carry more easily.

Sight Reading rounded off the day and we were split into group performances. I was in a group that performed a radio adaptation of an Agatha Christie mystery. The first time we read it out, all the characters were performed in a very cheery way. Our tutor then pushed us to think about more interesting ways of performing the characters and when we re-read it, the scenes became significantly more interesting when the characters were all mean, manipulative and (most importantly!) suspicious!


I wasn’t called for rehearsal until the afternoon so I spent the morning working on my combat journal and preparing the fairy story I was to tell on Friday. In the afternoon, I met up with my Scene Partner to work on it before our hour with the director. That hour rushed by as we got into the detail of the scene and how to perform it effectively. For the first time this term, I was told I wasn’t doing enough which was a nice change!

In the evening, I made the most of the Royal Court Theatre’s £10 tickets for under-26s and saw the darkly comic The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas. It might have been a little too long but there were aspects I really loved (the first half hour is just the cast sitting on chairs in a row telling the back which worked really well for me). The performance of Tom Brooke as Gorge was really impressive too.


Character saw us revisit the characters we’d developed last week and threw them together into random pairs. My aspiring painter found himself in an unexpectedly sinister pairing with a old English teacher seemingly keen to buy some of his art but never keen to actually see any of it. Once again, it was an odd experience improvising a scene without resorting to creating a caricature or making jokes but my confidence is growing.

Stage Combat involved more punching and strangling in various ways and at various angles. I still find it all makes me rather nervous!

Our final Voice class of the week continued our work on resonance focusing on vowel sounds and applying it to text.

Final class of the week was Storytelling in which we told each other fairy stories. I told an elaborated version of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Nightingale. Others included The Princess in the Pea, a medieval tale of princes and sleeping maidens, and a funny modern retelling of Orpheus and Euridice setting it in Epping with Elephant and Castle standing in for Hades’ Underworld.


On Saturday afternoon, I continued working my round the student/under 26s ticket schemes, this time at The Bush Theatre for Rory Kinnear’s debut play, The Herd, for £10. First of all I loved the venue (with its cafe and bar) and I was really excited by the set which was spread round the two banks of audience. The play was fantastic: very funny but very moving. It was about the family of a severely disabled young man with special needs getting ready for his visit on his 21st birthday. Unfortunately preparations do not run smoothly. The cast were all brilliant, though I have to say my favourite was Anna Calder-Marshall as the acid-tongued grandmother whose withering look would make other withering looks wither with a look.

Not a bad week for theatre, all told! Hoping to see some impro next week.

Still struggling to decide on which headshots to use, but hopefully I’ll have decided by this time next week and then they’ll be EVERYWHERE!

Have a good week!

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