Sunday, 9 August 2009

A is for Acting, B is for Beer

Well after that series of Billy Elliot blogs its been a while since I told you what I was getting up to in my acting classes. In fact if I recall correctly I had only told you about the first week. Well after the lesson Jenn our workshop facilitator said "sometimes people like to go for a drink together after class"... with this in mind we all scarpered home. I don't think anybody was quite out of their comfort zone with this room full of strangers just yet. Or at very least we were all being wussy and didn't want to be seen to be the only one keen for an after class piss up.

So anyway, its week two, and honestly I dont remember specifically what we did that week, what I do remember is Chris at the end of the lesson saying "well who's up for a drink then?" I think it was at this point after just two lessons that I realised how much as a group we had already gelled. Many of the class were up for socialising after lesson, I think we were all just waiting for someone else to make the suggestion that we should actually do it.

This would be a great opportunity to learn more about the people I would be working with over the coming weeks, and maybe if they got completley hammered I could learn some of their deepest darkest secrets and hold them against that person at a later date. Its great to have ammunition to use against people.... wow that made me sound so vindictive. But you know what? I can live with that! It was a great evening, we stayed there until closing time and as a group we started to form some stronger personal bonds. This really helps in any acting environment, as being comfortable and at ease around those who you work with allows you to be more natural in your role as an actor.

So onto week three, and this week Jenn was away walking in the roaming hills of Wales or somewhere like that. In her place was a gentleman called Charlie. Like Jenn he too was trained in RADA, so he knew his stuff. The theme of this workshop "was status". There is something to remember in theatre, and I guess in any other work place. Its simple really. Everyone is equal, from the lead role through to the supporting cast and right down to that person who has a walk in part in the second scene. Whilst the lead actors can look the most important person on the stage, take away their supports and they have nothing. When you have nothing, lets face it... you too become nothing.

I think remembering this theme of equality, really helps you when your in a role. Sometimes it can be disheartening when you are casted for a part which is smaller than what you would have hoped for, But what you need to remember is "without me the lead becomes nobody". Charlie set us a task to signify this. He gave us a table and 5 chairs. He pointed to one chair and said "make this chair the most important part of your structure". After arguing different approaches which included using the chairs to symbolise people we decided to stack the table on top of the chairs, with one beneath each leg of the table and place the "important chair" at the top of the structure. There it was the important chair was right at the top. It was the most important chair there! Or was it? Remove any supporting chair and the structure falls. So there is a great mentality to use when you are in any part on stage. Make the best of whatever role you have as you are just as important as everyone else on that stage.

This was one of my favorite classes it must be said, though I did find Charlie harder to work with than Jenn. We were also set the task of demonstrating structure, by playing the parts of a master and his servent. This was exploring another view on the theme of status. We had looked at the real life element of the matter. Now we were looking at how status is used within acting, how emotions, movements and working in character can create status on stage. This master and servent role play was an extreme example of how characters can be used to depict just this.

I really excelled at this task, and the performance myself and Vikas put on got a great response from the others in the class. Now saying this comes the big revelation. When we rehearsed the scene, we did it in mime. When it came to performance it was completley improvised as we threw the concept of mime right out the window. It came out great, and I think that was a testiment to how well myself and Vikas get along, which all stemmed from that beer the week before.

Needless to say more beer followed that evening and we were once again the last ones out of the pub when we were litterally turfed out by the bar staff. A gesture that was quite nice was where Charle joined us for a drink. He is a very knowledgable guy, and I think given time I could warm to his approach... though I think I would be glad to see Jenn the following week again after her break away. I make us out to be a group of alcoholics with all this talk of pub social circles, hoewver the truth is that none of us got hammered. It was just a great oppostunity to chat and reflect upon the lesson that we had just gone through.

I guess the moral of this story is that beer is a great tool if you want to act. Maybe this explains why I see the bulk of the cast from Billy Elliot running from the stage door to the pub opposite after every show!

Anyway theres a nice short blog for a Sunday evening for you! Happy reading!


1 comment:

  1. Beer is a great tool indeed! ;)