Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The Return Of Saddlers Wells (Part 5)

Its always interesting studying "abstract" theatrical concepts. This was the theme of this afternoon's classes. Now I am sure there are many different abstract styles of performing, but in a 2 hour session there is obviously a limit to what can be taught. So we focused on the concept of some crazy french man, who at the time was considered to be a complete idiot for the ideology behind the method of theatrical art. Now the name of this french dude slips my mind, but honestly, that isn't all that important. The important thing was the way he set about things.

His concept was that the audience should be a greater part of a piece of theatre. Even in most present day productions, the performance takes place on a stage and is watched by rows of people in seats. But what happens when you take a step away from tradition? His theory was that theatre could be much more interactive, with the theatre going on around people and in some cases involving the theatre patron in the art itself. All sounds rather strange doesn't it?

So how does it work? An example may be where a room is set out in a theme, lets imagine a ball, ladies wearing the poshest of gowns, and gents in their tops and tails. All the patrons may be given masks as they enter the ball room, where there is something going on. Though rather than telling the story to the patrons, the actors involve them, maybe actors will dance with the theatre goer whilst the story goes on around them. Its weird i know, but a very interesting concept and certainly makes performing arts more three dimensional.

So thats what we would do. Divided into two groups we were tasked with the concept of creating initially a piece of work that appealed to other senses other than sight, predominantly touch and. We used narration and various items to create the sensation of noise or touch including bubble wrap as rain and feathers brushing against the audiences face to represent the wind among other things. Its amazing how imaginative you can be. With the audience members having their eyes closed imaginations were permitted to run wild. Its a rather spine chilling experience with the right story, and we certainly achieved the response we wanted.

The second task on hand was to create a piece that plays with the mind of the audience member. Our personal space is very precious to us, and we all hate it when someone gets right in our face. So what happens to us when actors violate that personal space? Well the reaction is something much more personal than you would get at a traditional theatre show. We set our scene in some form of psychiatric ward, this time working with Katie and Sally, we orbited the audience members in close proximity as "patients" from the ward, and successfully made the audience members feel uncomfortable by again exploring the concept of touch tied in with some rather freaky acting and repetition of words. Again I was very happy with the overall results of this piece as it worked perfectly. If anyone has been to Thorpe Park on a fright night, this is a very similar method of acting which is used in the mazes that they have.

This was one of the most enjoyable classes, I think personally I did very well and it was something completely new to me. I am really lucky to be among a very talented group. I think all the work the class has achieved to date has been to an amazing standard. I also found out that Danielle intends to do the next class that I will be on with City Academy in the new year, so thats pretty awesome too!

So there you have it... abstract forms of theatrical art can be a lot of fun :)

The Return Of Saddlers Wells (Part 6)

Shakespeare... am I the only one who wishes he had become a postman or something? All the suffering his work has inflicted upon modern youth pretty much equates to child abuse, it really does. I love plays, I love acting and I love theatre... but there is something about William Shakespeare that doesn't sit right with me, though I am not quite sure what it is. So you may have gathered I am not a Shakespeare fan, needless to say I was less than overjoyed to discover that we would be looking at his work in the last day of my current drama course at Saddlers Wells, just over a week ago.

We did however approach things from a different perspective, and it helped. It certainly removed the boredom I associated with the study of his work. School was boring and they never did find a way of making Shakespeare enjoyable. In fact I would liken school study of Shakespeare to being bludgeoned to death with a wooden spoon. In short... very slow and very painful. Today wasn't so bad, and a bit of scene setting helped us get into the flow of things. We looked into "A Mid Summers Night Dream". Allegedly this was a Shakespearean comedy... yet I failed to find it humorous... just confusing. But that I guess was a language thing... it was a lot to take in and honestly, I didn't understand half what was said.

We embarked on a task to perform as a group a modernised version of the script. Loosely all we had to do was follow the storyline and perform it in a way that suited us best. This featured Manuella as Puck, who in the Shakespearean version of the play was a mischievous fairy... we some how turned him into a crack addict drug dealer... only a small difference, I think you will agree. But hugely funny... I would love to know where Manuella got the inspiration for her interpretation of the character. It was awesome! So how did our piece of work go? It was a bit messy, but the ideas and methods of acting were good. With a bit of time it could have become a rather good scene. It may have resembled a typical scene at the Queen Vic in Eastenders. Only difference is we act much better than the morons in that unbearable soap!

So yeah, we had a lot of fun, and it was a nice way to round the course off, however I don't think I have developed a love of Shakespeare yet. The sad thing is, if I want to do more in drama I will need to start exploring his work more and more. I sometimes wish I had a time machine. Most of the time I would only ever use it to fix mistakes that I have made, and believe me there are a lot of those. But if I could make one significant change to the world, i think I would go back to his era, armed with a wooden spoon and inflict the same degree of pain he has done for all the school children who have had to study his plays. Just think what a hero I would become in doing this!

A time machine... hmmm sounds interesting. Does anyone know how to make one? I am a man on a mission... well seeing as I have time on my hands as this is the last in the current series of blogs I may as well start building one myself!

G xxx

Sunday, 18 October 2009

A Large Trigorin And Tonic Please (Part 4 & 5)

So in a desperate bid to catch up on my blogs I am covering the last two weeks of my Thursday evening classes at RADA in one brief blog. Ok, I admit it, its not solely for that reason. This last week just gone I was dreadful, I just wasn't focused, my mind was somewhere else. Where? Who knows! I sure as hell didn't. Either way it doesn't really give me all that much to write about, so consolidating everything into one blog makes so much more sense!

In the first of these two weeks we touched on method acting, with similar approaches to those used for my classes at Saddlers Wells. It was interesting to have this renowned style of actors training taught to us in a different way. You have to remember this script is based in the 1900's, so its much harder to find you're character compared to Harper Regan (the play I study in my other classes) which is set in the present day. Jenn asked us to think of what people wore in those days, a mans attitude to a woman, posture and class among other things. Obviously all we had to base our ideas on were images and footage we had seen from the times. Its difficult to get a completely accurate representation of a character of that era as none of us are Russian for starters and more to the point, none of us are in excess of 100 years old. I felt this class really built on my knowledge of method acting and the timing of this class coincided with my Saddlers Wells classes well.

With regards to the week just passed we each studied a monologue and discovered ways of characterising our role. There are two ways... well, there are many ways but they all fall into these two sub-groups. You can either study a script in depth, where you look at you're character's attitude to themselves and others as well as studying the major changes which happen within that role. Alternatively you can phsicalise that role... I have to be honest whilst the script study made a lot of sense I couldn't see how associating your character to an animal and those animal's mannerisms really helped to build a character all that much. I guess looking back to the workshop it worked a little, but I felt I got a greater understanding of Constantine (my character) by analysing the script in depth. I guess some techniques work better than others for actors, hence why we were shown both approaches.

Whilst generally I was not focused for the second class, I feel my performance of the monologue went relatively well. Sure I could have given it a bit more, but honestly, I feel there were maybe only two or three others better than mine from all of the performances. That's not bad in quite a large class in a week where I was generally rubbish!!!

Well there we have it another rather uninteresting update. I was meant to be going to the theatre last night to see "Into The Woods", but circumstances were stacked up against me... so i missed out! Oh well at least I get to see Billy Elliot in a fortnights time!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

The Return Of Saddlers Wells (Part 4)

Monologues are very powerful tools in acting, they can be used to incite feelings and emotions, when accompanied by the appropriate acting skills. That is what today's session was all about. I am going to keep this dead short, as this was last week's session rather than the one that I have just returned from. Looks like I have failed to get my updates online as fast as I promised a month ago! Oh well, nobody is perfect... even me. I know that will surprise some of you! Okay, maybe not... anyway, on with the blog...

So what did we get up to? Throughout the play we are studying, which by now you should know is called "Harper Regan" there are various characters all of whom have monologues. Today was about taking those speaches and delivering them in the most effective way. My piece was that of Seth. You may remember him as I talked of him before now. He is Harper's husband, a slightly odd ball character who had a controversial brush with the law. His monologue comes after Harper admits to having sex with another man whilst visiting her dying father. Personally, like before I didn't feel I connected all that well with the character of Seth, though I was assured that I did a good job of the monologue.

Personally I feel you have to understand a character, their mentality and motives to be able to play that role well. Seth is just odd, even his reaction to his wife's confession of having sex with another man seemed unexpected. It was far too sedated, it almost lacked emotion. There is only a certian amount of feeling I as an actor can put into a role, as the words themself have to carry the mood as much as my acting skills do. Honestly, the words Seth uses in this scene were a strange choice of the playwrite I must admit. I much prefer the role of Elwood, who is Harper's boss, he too is weird, but at least I understand what he wants and how he wants to get it! That way I really get into the role and deliver the goods.

So was performing a monologue scary? No not really, I quite like it. I wouldn't say it was me at my best, but apparently i did fairly well. I took whatever pointers I was given on board and went away feeling happy with myself! Though I really do not want to play the role of Seth again, I just don't enjoy his character at all!

A Large Trigorin And Tonic Please (Part 3)

I have to be honest, this weeks session was not that beneficial to me. Maybe it is because we had done very similar work in the first course with Jenn. I don't know, it just felt like a bit of a repetition. The concept was that we would explore the setting of the play, through movements, sound and the surroundings that would have been present in 1900's Russia. Though if I am honest, I don't really feel any more connected to the settings than I did before the session. Whats more I don't think the sound work we did was as rich and as real as the first time we did this task before the summer.

We did however do an interesting task on youth and old age, and what we as individuals associate with these two words. We were asked to create a short scene where we symbolised our age theme. We had to use 6 people and only a few given words. We opted for a seesaw, the kids at either end represented youth and were using words like "party". Myself and Vikas formed the middle pivoting section of the seesaw and our word was used to shed the negative perspective many older people have on youth. But the annoying thing is, I can't even remember what our word was now! Okay, it may not have been the best acted piece, however it was abstract and told a bit of a story of how youth see themselves and how they are perceived by others. If I am completley honest, the other group's work was better acted. They built a human wheelchair for their representation of old age. But the flip side of the coin was that our piece told a better story where there's was a little more fragmented.

So far I can't say I am disappointed at all, I have deffinatly been learning a lot and boosting my drama skills. I feel I have been performing well also which is nice, and generally things are pretty swell. Only this week wasn't as drama rich and beneficial as other weeks. I am sure next week will be better.

Until then, happy reading!