Last time I wrote we were coming to the end of our second trimester, which ended on our object manipulation autocours. I love object manipulation, it is so incredible how you can make theatre out of pieces of cardboard or rope or chairs. We only had two weeks work on object manipulation, which seemed a bit short as we normally do things in three week blocks. We used chairs in our autocours and created a filmic style piece, which centred around a young croatian couple in love that got separated during the Bosnian war. Yes, yes we did learn Croatian for our piece. Thank you google translate...we couldn't have done it without you. Oh yes and did I forget to mention the whole piece had to be within a 6ft by 6ft space. 5 people, 4 chairs, an immigration office, an apartment block, a war, a bus, all in that small space. They love to give us a challenge.
So as I write to you now we have just finished week 3 of the third trimester. 
The last three weeks have been all about characters...what the whole of the first year ultimately leads up to. 
Week one was about passions and states. 

Week two we had to make the journey from home to school in character. Any character of our choice, it could be someone made up, or loosely based on someone you know. We were warned to avoid actors/people in the theatre industry, as it was too close to ourselves, they were interested in seeing us play people quite far away from ourselves. We were also warned to avoid cliches/characatures. So I would like you to meet Jean Mann (left) 40. A secretary at Derby University. I had fun playing Jean all week, although she got on my nerves a bit by they end, she was a bit of a wet lettuce. 

Week three. I was Stacey Kenny (Right) 30. Nurse from Liverpool. Now Stacey had much more fire than Jean, I had a lot more fun playing her, but I am not going to lie, getting up an hour and a half earlier each morning to put on fake eyelashes, fake nails, curl my hair and just generally tart up, was not for me. I don't know how so many women do that each morning for work. 

Now this week is really where the fun starts. For monday we are to pick one of our characters from the last two weeks, so either Jean or Stacey and we then have to create a third character. So for instance if I pick Jean I then create someone else and have to be able to change from one character to the other quite quickly, I say quite quickly, it is actually ridiculously fast. We have to be able to be one character on stage, go off and be back on as the other character within 5 seconds. 5 SECONDS. 5 SECONDS?! Clark Kent can't even change into superman that fast and HE IS SUPERMAN!! I mean come on...really?? I told you they like to challenge us.
And so in autocours there are 5 of us but they want to see 10 characters! Our title is l'hotel du libre echange. So we are in a hotel basically but can choose anywhere, so could be in the kitchen, the lobby, the bedrooms etc or even a boat like a cruise (as that is also hospitality) When they explained our autocours to us the first thing I thought of was Dario Fo's Can't Pay Won't Pay. Where there are always people in and out of various doors, cupboards, wardrobes and where one actor plays a sergeant, an inspector and an undertaker. After thought was Faulty Towers. 
Where ever we are there are going to be a lot of doors, so people can go on and off, get changed rapid and get back on. It sounds very farcical and I know I am going to have a lot of fun this week! Very excited to get started and see what happens. 
So after three weeks of animals, we moved onto MASKS! AT LAST! We were told during work on animals that we would need to make our own mask (a simple paper mache one) and bring it in the first week of mask work. We then worked with our masks for a week and after fridays Autocours, the teachers picked which masks worked and therefore could stay to continue to play and whose masks were better off at home......So meet Rolf. 
This is Rolf. We played with Rolf during the first week and people found differences in his personality, he played well....not well enough it seems, as after our performance on friday I was told to leave him at home. My pride wasn't hurt, I just felt sorry for poor Rolf sitting at home twiddling his thumbs when he could have been at school having fun, playing with lots of other masks...but hey ho. "That is the way the cookie crumbles sometimes", I had to tell him.
Along side playing with our character masks, we worked with Larval masks and expressive masks. I shall start with Larval masks. Larval masks are huge white masks that aren't quite human or animal, they are somewhere in between. They tend to have huge features like a giant nose or huge pointy chin. They are very curious creatures and do not follow human logic.
Expressive masks are much more complex than Larval. They are very human. They are so well made that any slight tilt or turn of the head reads as a different emotion/thought. Of course it is not just the head but the body that needs to move and reflect what the mask is thinking. I learnt a huge deal during our three weeks on mask and enjoyed my pants off!
This week we began work on objects and how to manipulate objects. We have also been learning stage combat and have been working on a fight scene in Autocours. It has been a two week Autocour. The first week (last week) was setting the scene, characters, establishing relationships and the build up to the fight stopping before the first punch is thrown and this week is that (with changes, notes that the teachers gave to us on friday) plus the fight. They seem to have timed this Autocour well as it is week 10 of 11 and people are staring to get very tetchy and need to let of some what better way to do it other than kicking the shit out of each other. 
Week 10 of 11, Jeeeeez Louise where is the time going? I dunno, but I am having fun, learning a lot and becoming a better theatre creator. Lecoq has definatley changed me as an actor and my opinion on acting. There isn't just A PROCESS, something I was so sure of when I graduated drama school....I have my process, that is all I need to be an actor, a successful one. FALSE. There are other ways to approach acting and approach a role and approach creating theatre...much more freeing and expressive ones. At Lecoq every muscle is trained to perform, the body is our tool of expression not our mouths and our psychology. I am not saying there is anything wrong in this style of acting but for me it can be constraining and I have realised at Lecoq there is so much the body can say and do and it does, so much more effectively than words. 
A member of Clout (a Lecoq trained company)  sums up what happened to me before I came to Lecoq...
"A lot of people go to Lecoq, because they crave a living theatre and are dis-engaged with a neck-up psychological acting style."

Wow. Sorry, sorry, sorry. It has been a life time since I wrote last...And it is not like you could just read over my old posts to still feel connected to me because someone *ahem Ellie* deleted them by accident. I forgive her, let's move on. 
I am sure you all realise the reason I have not blogged in a while, was my homeless situation. Yes on boxing day 2012 we were made homeless and only on 27th January 2013 did we move into new digs. Needless to say it has been a tad stressful and a bit distracting. But alas 'tis over now and we have a new base, we can see all of our clothes again and the top of the Eiffel Tower from our 6th floor south facing balcony! Things happen for a reason...
So school.....
It feels like we have moved just about everything, following Lecoq's famous words "Tout bouge" (everything moves) but we have not yet moved everything, because everything is well....everything. So a lot. 
I LOVE MOVING and so find it frustrating when parts of my body won't move where I want them to. I want my head to turn all the way round, like an owl. I want to be able to scratch my ear with my foot, and no matter how hard I try it won't. quite. do it. That is because I am not a dog or an owl, and so we search for the alternative, the illusion we can create. And it works, we always find a solution that looks and feels right, that people believe. I can't be oil in a bottle and pour out slowly into a pan and move around the pan and then start to sizzle when the heat is turned on, but I can create the illusion of that. IT IS AMAZING WHAT OUR BODIES CAN DO.
Each week is layered on top of the other, with the week before we can not have this week, and without this week we cannot have the next. Each trimester lays foundations for another. 
If in my first week the teacher had said to me  "here is a Monet's Water Lilies...Comment ca bouge?" I would have returned them with a blank look and then frantically forced my body to emulate that painting. But now after 14 weeks at Lecoq I feel like I could move anything. 
I have a lot of respect for my teachers, they really know their shit. You do something and they say what about a) b) and c) and you go "ohhh yeah!" It is so obvious once they have said it and yet we are still not acute enough to sense it....getting there though, getting better not only as a performer but as a director and writer. In Autocours you need to be able to sense, feel, and see if it is working so cannot just take on the role of actor you need to be manager, sound designer....
This is our first week of animals, then we move onto Larval masks.