A couple of days ago I told you all about the shit week that lead up to my return to college. Despite all that happened I remained in good spirits, and though in a considerable amount of pain I decided to push ahead with my courses as planned. I guess what happened has made me defiant and along with it came a much stronger will to succeed. Had I have changed my outlooks on life and ambitions, or even just sat inside feeling sorry for myself, it would have felt like I was handing the attacker victory on a plate. There was no way that was happening. I would be there for the first day of term and that was that!
Right near the beginning of my many blogs (this is the 73rd whooooop), I had a blog called "The Journey Begins". I guess in essence this latest blog is a development of that early piece of writing which too, in turn has seen myself and my drama work develop also. I have achieved a lot since then, but really its all been working towards this. So maybe this is where my journey really begins or maybe this is just where the speed of my journey picks up. Either way - this is where things get serious, this is where drama has ceased being a hobby and is now shaping my life and who I am.
This term I am studying 5 key areas. These take the form of 3 long courses which last the full term, and 2 short courses. The theory behind this year is that I brush up on more specialised skills which in turn will give me the competitive edge when auditioning for more intensive courses next summer. It is a costly way to approach learning, but it will give me that edge, and that's worth the financial hardships - I say this, though I will admit every time I see the invoice for £1500 I cringe, more so when I realise I still have another £1000 worth of courses to book! Oh, did I mention that those costs don't include travel or books - which in two weeks alone have already set me back a further £150! Wow, I really need a sponsor!!!
The first of the three longer courses is improvisation. I know what you are thinking... improvisation is easy. But I would have to disagree with you there. I accept that pretending is easy, but improvising is not, and why? It has to be done in a way which is believable but most importantly it has to be spontaneous. People often don't realise what improvisation really is. I have been in groups before on more than one occasion where the course leader will say "spend 10 minutes working out a piece of improvisation to perform". This is not improvisation. It has been devised and has lost its spontaneous edge in doing so. All be it, the piece has been devised with little time and may be partially improvised, however in that time planning the work, the actors will have established some given truths for the scene. In improvisation you have to look within yourself or within your fellow actor to find the given truths, you act on impulse, and live for that moment in time... and that in essence is quite a skill.
The next full length course would be one that removed me from my comfort zone. In order to establish yourself within performing arts you need to be able to act, sing and dance. I have little experience in singing and dancing - in fact bar one course last summer I have avoided it like the plague. At this point I would like to say that I really don't understand this saying anymore. We say that we avoid things like the plague... but in itself this statement is a lie... the plague no longer exists, sanitation and medical advances have seen to this. So why on earth do we still use this figure of speech?
Anyhow, back on topic... I decided that I would take up a beginners dance class to improve my general performance skills. My reason for chosing this course does go a little deeper that it first appears to on the surface, just a look back at my blogs would indicate this. When I went to see the Rambert shows back in the summer I realised what a beautiful art form dance can be. Whilst the dancers there have trained for years, and are leagues ahead of anything I will ever achieve in my lifetime, it none the less inspired me. The biggest of these inspirations being Liam Mower who I have talked about before, who not only inspires me in performance but in life generally. The inspiration he has provided me makes the prospect of learning dance far less daunting than I would have found it otherwise, and you know what? After 2 lessons I am really enjoying it. The course touches on the basics of jazz, ballet and contemporary dance. I will tell you how I progress in the coming weeks!
The third area of study is one that is important to every actor - "Stanislavski's System". It can be argued that this is the backbone of acting in modern theatre today, though some would disagree I am sure. Either way like it or hate it, Stanislavski forms the basis around which most drama schools teach. The problem is broader drama courses barley touch on it, despite its huge importance to acting as a whole. In all courses which I have been a part of, I have spent no more than one evening per course studying his methods. For someone aspiring to move onwards and upwards this is not enough. I am hoping this specialised course will give me the edge and a greater understanding when it comes to this important area of study.
As for the short courses, well... I will tell you about those another day. The college itself it is based in the heart of theatre land - Covent Garden. Its so nice, and the rehearsal spaces are good too. I think something just feels right about studying drama in London. People had mixed feelings about me cutting my work hours in favour of this... well here I am and I am loving it, and there is no way I am looking back. Its official, I have made it on to the second rung of my drama ladder!