Sorry it has been a while since I have written (that's mainly for my Dad who lives 300 miles away always reads these!). I have been busy, as I'm sure we all are busy.
First things first, we did our Showcase at the start of the month. This is a chance to perform a 4 minute duologue inform of an invited audience of industry, casting directors and agents. They will then hopefully take some of your head shots or CVs after being blown away bu your performance. Or an agent may offer you a meeting or some representation. We had a lot of casting directors but not so many agents. I have a handful of CVs and headshots taken which I was happy with, as if out of that handful of 6 or 7 taken you only need one of those people to have really liked you and be really good and so surley later on they will call me and offer me an amazing audition which is going to change my life and get me a part in Hollywood!
But here is to hoping something good will come of it. I chose a piece from the play 'Betrayal' by Harold Pinter. If you haven't read it - go do that, its great. The process was great, and informative and the group did extremely well overall.
Following this we are all now back in class, working with the MA Writing for Stage and Screen students on short scenes and plays which will be improvised and publicly performed. We will also continue running for Anna (movement = blisters extraordinaire), voice class (creating a radio type performance of characters totally different from ourselves). Finally on top of those classes we are doing some more Stanislavsky and preparing two scenes. One is for the casting director of the RSC
, who will be coming in to do a scene day with us. And the other is for Michael Grandage
, who will be doing the same thing. These are amazing opportunities and another reason why Central is a dream come true place to train.
Finally I have been going to the gym and working weekends to pay rent. I am busy and tired. MA full time is haaaaaaaaaaaaaard. We have also had to do some sit ins on auditions (first round and recalls) for next years prospective students - open days too. My advice if you're auditioning this year.
- Know your scene, but not too over rehearsed, so you can be free to change it up. Know the play - rehearse a 20 line summary of it and the scene.
- Take direction as best you can.
- Don't worry about what anyone is looking at or thinking, because you'll be wrong on both counts.
- Do whatever you're asked to do at 100%, even if it sounds weird or not relevant.
- Have fun, be yourself, be creative.
- Pick a monologue that is funny!
- Choose a strong piece of Shakespeare - that is short!!!!
- Aim for 60- 90 seconds. Think as though - the longer you are speaking the more time they have to decide what is bad about your performance.
- Don't be intimidated by anyone else.
- Ask questions
- Listen listen listen to what you a re directed
- Oh and ask yourself - what will they be doing for me? Why should I come here? - not - please will you like me and take me here. Its your money, make sure they deserve it. Good Luck!
Rehearsing for this production has been the biggest learning curve of my creative life so far. I don't know how to summarise it into what we have done and what we do etc. So thought I would just share some of the stuff I have written in my journal so far which have helped me reflect and develop. A lot of it doesn't make 'sense' but Ive learnt its not my job to make sense of the work for the audience. Ill trust that you'll understand what you do and that will mean something to you:
Trust that all the answers can be found in the other person on stage who you are playing with. Play action - choose bold actions - simple actions - actions which help you make the text yours. Do not play emotions. Why does your character get emotional? Do not try to make sense for the audience. That is not your job. Know your lines better and better. Focus your energy. Be brighter. Don't play suppression. You are only as strong as your weakest person. Physical space becomes syntax. Immerse yourself in the world and time of the text and the characters. Don't let the accent become generic or play the accent the accent should be real as it was to those people. Take your work seriously. Don't take yourself too seriously. Re-read the play. Bring more sooner. Don't put your stink onto the text, the text has its own musicality its is your duty to get on board. Run your warm ups. Recognise tension and enjoy the choice of physical tensions. Don't sell yourself short, the moment you expect less from yourself is the moment you become average. Why do you think you need to work any less than a ballet dancer or an opera singer? Don't let yourself off the hook.
I am excited about this production and being a part of it. I am also excited by the work I am seeing my class mates do each day. It made me realise how good they are and how I am a part of that good and exciting work. What will I do
OOPS! Forgot to mention - Our first play isCause Celebre
by Terrence Rattigan
and the classical strand are doing The Broken Heart
by John Ford.
Check them out and come see!
This week has been our reading week . So we have a week off before the start of rehearsals on Monday - to read - and generally sleep. And get a bit of distance from the school which has been our lives non stop for 7 weeks. I have been reading a bit, learning lines and trying to find some pieces for the Showcase in May. Its a big deal in the school. It makes me laugh when I think of the showcase I did at Uni, where we had about 2 rehearsals and could do any piece, for no more than 5 minutes. Here it is strict! But I suppose they will possibly get a lot of attention so they need to be.
Anyway! I have also just finished a brilliant book 'The Body Speaks'- "The discomfort of not knowing links to the fear of getting it wrong. As a performer, it is vital to work from a place of not knowing - almost from a sense of discomfort, where you choose to wait for an impulse to arise rather than quickly coming up with an easy response. This is what it means to 'take risks'."
Made me think about reading lists - things i have read so far this year and things I wish I would have read before coming. They do send you a reading list but it is long and expensive and so these are the ones I think are worth investing in and reading prior if possible. Or if you're just interested in some actor literature!:
- Stanislavsky - An Actors Work (Jean Benedetti) - It has been contemporarily translated to a more simple and concise version in one volume, as opposed to the 3 volumes previously popular.
- The Body Speaks - Lorna Marshall
- The Right to Speak - Patsy Rodenburg
- The Moving Body - Jacques Lecoq
- 1599 - James Shapiro
- Playing Shakespeare - John Barton
- The Actor and The Target - Declan Donnellan
- Chekhov - complete works - Michael Frayn Version
- W. Shakespeare - One comedy/ history/ tragedy
Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results - Einstein of insanity
I understand how simple to concept is to look for new ideas and break from what you have done before but it is so hard. Be prepared to rip yourself in half and sew yourself back together again.
We did some work on acting for screen mainly useful) about images which we run in our mind to focus our attention and emotion prior to a scene. Also so work on seeing the scene or the room or other people through someone else's eyes. Not becoming that person or pretending to be that person just imaging how they would see it and how that is different from the way you see it. These were particularly useful and applicable classes.
Be kind to everyone, for we are all fighting a hard battle - Plato
Sorry its been a while. I have been busy. Really busy, to the point of bursting. This term has been the biggest and best learning curve in my life to date. Mainly learning about what my own true constraints are in voice and body and changing the expectation and release of myself. Hard to sum up and describe really except for it has been hard hard and consistent work with an ever mounting work load. Summary: This term, I have mostly been eating:
New writing with new writers
Spelt from Sibyl's Leaves.
Group Research Project
Sustained independent project
Casting for our first play
One handed cartwheels
Do you think its possible to be born in the wrong body? Do you think its possible to be born in the wrong era?
First day back and I have ruined my Christmas Spirit. My mince pies and wine from the past 3 weeks have officially been beaten and sweated out of me. I am sweating everywhere - even my eyes are sweating. Then we are torn to shreds in our Sarah Kane class. Her writing is terrifying and visceral. The week has been inspiring and thought provoking to say the least. This is where the division between the two courses starts to become really clear, and why I am so glad I got the strand of my choice. Learning and understanding about Kane and this type of contemporary writing is completely the work I hope one day to be involved in. Perfect start back to the year! Voice is getting better and 'Im an inch off the splits. One hand cartwheel went down like a lead balloon though....
"Working on the breath for instance can always expose and touch someone on the deepest level" - Patsy Rodenburg
No that isn't me in the background and no I haven't joined a fan club for Les Mis or Anne Hathaway. I just saw this trailer and this photo pretty much sums up my face this week. Especially during voice classes. For some reason I cant stop crying during breath to voice exercises, its like this flood gate has opened and it wont work to try and close it. Drama school is not therapy, it just bloody feels like it sometimes.
Patsy Rodenburg in her book The Right To Speak says this kind of thing is normal and good "working on the breath for instance can always expose and touch someone on the deepest level".
True dat, Patsy dont lie. Luckily it is not just me experiencing this, Ive got the other 14 clowns to help me through. That reminds me I have my clown assessment this week, and acting assessment, and Dissertation proposal deadline and feedback CRITS panel oh! and my stage combat exam. Best do some work otherwise I will have to start crying again.
This is a link to my Spotlight page. Think of it as a catalogue of actors who are professionally trained/ in work. Casting directors, agents, producers etc can search by type for the character they are after, and their search will bring up a big ole lost of every actor who fits that type. So I would be;
Check out mine :)SPOTLIGHT
"Art, especially the stage, is an area where it is impossible to walk without stumbling. There are in store for you many unsuccessful days and whole unsuccessful seasons: there will be great misunderstandings and deep disappointments… you must be prepared for all this, expect it and nevertheless, stubbornly, fanatically follow your own way."
Anton Chekhov, for those of you who are interested, is a Russian writer who died in 1904. He wrote these short and full length plays which seriously are amazing. He would have written more if he hadn't been so ill and had TB and died really young because of it. Summary concluded.
They love Chekhov here at Central and I now love him too. Not just his writing but him, I love everything about who he was and what he was. I have been reading all the plays (Uncle Vanya, The Seagull, Three Sisters, Cherry Orchard, The Bear, The Proposal) biographies, letters and all about his amazing actress wife Olga Knipper. They have both inspired me as you can tell. Russian history and theatre in general is awesome.
Acting class has been based around Chekhov's plays/ scenes. We have just finished working on The Proposal which has been a real discovery for me in the learning about how to look at as play and find a way in for the actor. The world of intentions, listening, reacting etc etc. We are moving on to the Seagull this week which I am really excited about as I saw a wicked production of it recently at The Southwark Playhouse. Go if you can. I am a bit terrified of the part I have been given as it feels like a huge task. But as my voice teacher says 'without you the words are just ink on the page'. It makes sense to me somehow. As does this quote from a letter which Chekhov wrote in reply to his wife, a extremely renowned actress in Russia: "Art, especially the stage, is an area where it is impossible to walk without stumbling. There are in store for you many unsuccessful days and whole unsuccessful seasons: there will be great misunderstandings and deep disappointments… you must be prepared for all this, expect it and nevertheless, stubbornly, fanatically follow your own way." Again reminding myself that failure is the only way forward in art and do not try to control it. It wont make a difference. Just believe in your choice and that is all you can do. In other news we have been doing some classes in clown which have been hilarious. Our period dance exam is next week! Stage combat classes are intense and now have extended to the weekends. Phonetics is bloody hard, the splits and the push ups are now a daily deal and I am nearly there with both.And yes I do mean ONE push up.