Rather Awkward Introduction

Hey, everyone! I'm Cat, I'm turning nineteen and I'm in my second year, doing a double major in Theatre + Drama and English + Creative Writing. I'm probably going to go on to do a post-grad in education or something, just so I have some employable qualities to fall back on if this whole acting/writing thing doesn't work out.

Acting is something that I stumbled on by chance in high school. I needed to pick an elective in year 8, and I thought drama would be the easiest thing to do. And since then, I've been absolutely hooked. I love performing. I love making people laugh and cry and it's honestly so much fun.

I have no idea what else to say, but I felt weird starting this without introducing myself first. I'm a total freak, which you will learn very early on. I am absolutely obsessed with Doctor Who, Torchwood, Sherlock and many many other British television shows and I will constantly reference them whether you watch the shows or not. I tend to go on a lot of random tangents and have about a million thoughts at once, so majority of these entries may not make any sense at all, but just bare with me! I'll try my best to make them understandable.

I like flowers and monkeys and want to be Iron Man when I (eventually - don't hold your breath) grow up.

Week One

This week, David Moody posed a really thought provoking question for us to consider. What makes a good actor? This is honestly something that I've never considered before. Usually, I just say "Yes, they're great!" or "wOW NO THEY'RE TERRIBLE" but I never really stop and think about why I think they're great . I'm not entirely sure if there is a 100 percent correct answer to this question, as people probably have very different opinions on the matter, but for me... I guess it's to do with how believable they are. How they can convince the audience that they are the character, rather than an actor playing the character, if that even makes sense.

Take Les Miserables, for example. When watching the movie, I was completely entranced by everyone. Not once did I find myself thinking "oh my god that's Hugh Jackman wow Wolverine is singing" or "Anne Hathaway! Gee, Catwoman. Get back to Genovia. I'm sure they're wondering where their queen has gone" etc etc. I forgot that they were these big celebrities and really felt like they were Jean Valjean and Fantine. Especially during I Dreamed A Dream. God, my tears could have filled an entire ocean, I swear.

I feel like I may have gone of topic for a moment there, but the fact is, if they can make me believe them, if they can make me fall in love with their characters and manage to wrangle emotions out of me, if they can leave their own personalities behind and change who they are to become the person that they're portraying, then they're pretty damn good at what they do.

Week Two

This week, as it was still a relatively small class, we focused more on team building exercises and warms ups. We had a big discussion on characterizations and how something as small as how you walk can help you get into character. We tried to develop the trust that we had in each other by leading a 'blind' person (or, someone with their eyes closed) all around campus. This showed us just how much trust we have to have for the people that we're working with, as we only have them to rely on once we're on stage.

David then went on to teach us the importance of relaxation, and how all of the energy on stage comes from doing many relaxation exercises before you perform, to get yourself focused and ready to go. It was also a good way to start the vocal warm ups, learning all about projection and how to sound clear and loud when you talk, without shouting.

We discussed Stanislavsky's system, and the aspects that we've used before in our previous roles. I've used his Emotional Memory technique before, when I needed to cry on stage and I find it very effective. The only dangerous part of using that technique is that you can't get too lost in all of your upsetting thoughts, or else it's quite hard to snap back out of it. We watched a YouTube video of a drama teacher giving a list of reasons as to why he hates using Stanislavsky's methods, and he presented some really good points. You really only seem to hear how great the Method Acting system is, and so it was interesting to see why people may not want to use it.

Week Three

This week we had more than six people in our class, which was pretty exciting! While I love my friends to death, it was really awesome to meet other people as well! We did a lot of team building and getting-to-know you games, with a pretty vicious game of musical chairs which had us pretty acquainted with each other in no time at all. We discussed Brecht, and the different techniques that he uses, such as interacting with the audience, having the actors seeming separate from what's happening on stage and so on. We did a few improvisations using Brecht's techniques, which was really interesting, as I've only ever done realism previously. I think Brecht's way of doing things can be extremely effective, maybe even more effective than realism in some cases, and I really enjoyed trying my had and that style of acting.

After the lesson had pretty much finished, David had us get out the cleaning instruments that he asked us to bring and pretend to clean up the space. By doing this, he taught us a really valuable lesson about how the drama room - our space - is sacred, and that we have to take care of it, rather than waiting for someone to do it for us. We need to take initiative and respect the space and others, which I think is the most important lesson I've learnt in my years of doing the 'acting-thing'.


Week Four

I've just realized that I've started every entry with 'This Week,' and I really want to change that but I have no idea what else to say. So. This week (or last week, considering I'm writing this a little late) we focused more on properly building a character. David got us into using one of Stanislavsky's techniques of writing up character profiles for the people we are going to play. He asked us to go out and find a person who seemed interesting and stalk - I mean, study them and write down a few significant things about the way that they do things. He then asked us to answer a series of questions about who we think they are: their name, age, relationship status, sexual orientation, occupation and other things like that. Taking all of these things into consideration, we developed a walk and a hand gesture that went with our people. I think this technique is an excellent thing to get into the habit of doing - especially if you're performing a naturalistic play.

For our dialogues, my group and I are going to be performing a scene from The Breakfast Club, so I think I'll definitely be using that technique to get into my character's head, and portray her as properly as I can.

Week Six

This week (yeah, I'm sticking with it) we got to go to the Zoo!!!!!!

We went to the zoo and yes, it was amazingly fun but the real reason we took this little trip was to study movements and mannerisms of all the different animals. Mainly the animals that we can relate our dialogue-characters to. For my character, Claire, I decided to watch the lions, as my character is described as a 'Princess'. She's very popular, and in high-school-land, that's basically royalty. But at the same time, she's got a fire to her and will not hesitate to put you in your place. In a way, lions are very similar. They're regal and proud, but do. Not. Mess. With. Them. The lions at the zoo were surprisingly active. The Lioness was lounging around and relaxing, while the two males seemed to be fighting for her affections or something. They were roaring at each other and fighting and it was both exciting and terrifying at the same time, so I got some really good notes on the way they were acting. I also looked at the African Painted Dogs (because they were absolutely adorable), the Baboons (for Children's Theatre) and the Meercats (also for how cute they are).

After we had our fun running around the zoo, we sat at the cafe and David talked to us about the importance of beats. Beats are different emotional rhythms, and represent the changing of thoughts. They can really make or break a script, and add more to a character as you go on. He told us to go through our dialogues and mark out every single beat change, which I think is really going to help, especially as my character gets more angry and emotional near the end.

Week Seven

This week we put all of our animal studies to proper use by imitating them, and their mannerisms as much as possible. We started off just using our own space to become the animal, and then eventually we got to moving around. It was really interesting to see everyone's different takes on the different animals. David then got us to think about a line that our character has, and to incorporate the movements of the animals to our characters.

We lined up against the board, and started out being 100 percent animal and saying our lines, getting more and more human as we stepped forwards. This was probably my favourite exercise that we've ever done in the class, as it really helped me in building a realistic character for my dialogues. The lioness at the zoo was so relaxed and uncaring, but at the same time she had a mean streak and could definitely hold her own against the other two lions. I feel like that's the same as my character, Claire. As silly as I may have felt doing the exercise, it honestly helped me so much.

Week Eight

This week we focused mainly on getting our dialogues perfected. We got the chance to work with David in our groups so that he could see what we have done so far and give us some tips and directions on how to make it better. I've never worked with David before, and he's really wonderful. He gave my group and I a lot of new ideas on how to make our dialogue better, like little bits of humor that break up all of the drama.

I'm both excited and nervous to perform. Apparently there's going to be judges or something, which I am really not looking forward to. At times I tend to crumble under too much pressure, but I just hope that I can get through the performance without stuffing up too badly!

Week Nine

This week (or last week if you want to get technical) it was finally performance day! It started off with a little bit of drama, because poor Laurie has a major case of stage fright. We didn't know if we were going to be able to perform because she was just freaking out so badly, and since she's one of my best friends I was extremely worried about her. We managed to convince her to step out on stage eventually though, and we managed to get though it.

We rehearsed our scene a lot, so we knew our lines and actions very well, and working with David really helped us to make our performance better. We decided against wearing proper costumes and chose instead to wear theatre blacks with a few key pieces that show off our character.

As for the actual performance, I think it went really well! We all remembered our lines and I managed not to laugh when Gab was yelling in my face. I feel like I could have spoken slower and louder, but I think I did alright. I was really happy with our performance, and especially with the people I worked with. Gab, Claire and Laurie are all really talented and we all worked really well together.

All-in-all I think our dialogue went really well, and I'm also rather glad that they're over!

Week Eleven

This week, it was time for the dreaded Technical Exam (or pop-quiz as I forced Tim to call it)! It was slightly nerve wracking, and my friends and I spent the entire morning quizzing each other, making sure we knew everything we would need to in order to pass the exam.

After arriving at Nexus, the practical lighting lesson began, and I found myself really enjoying it. I've only ever been an actress in the plays that I have been in, but thanks to these lessons and to Children's Theatre, I have definitely gotten a new found respect for the back stage people, and I am in awe of everything they accomplish. Their role is a lot harder than mine!

The test itself went a lot better than I was expecting, and I hope I did well!

Week Twelve

This week (or last week - okay, yeah I'm getting lazy) we started with our monologues! The one that I've chosen to perform is from Educating Rita. I picked it because I really enjoyed the context surrounding the monologue, and it's one that really gave me room to play around with emotions and actions and such. According to David, a shared problem with all of the dialogues was that majority of us weren't loud enough, so we did a lot of work on projection which really helped a lot.

The main projection exercise that we did was we got one person to read their monologue in front of us, and then got all of us in the audience to heckle them, so that the person reading would have to keep focus and try to be louder than us without shouting. It was a lot of fun, and it really helped. We ended up breaking into a rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody". I'm not entirely sure why... but it was definitely a focus challenge!

Next week we'll be performing our monologues in front of a class as a sort of dress rehearsal so that David can see what we've done so far and give us some feedback. Should be good!

Week Thirteen

This week was dress rehearsal week! I didn't bring any costumes with me (party because I had no idea what to wear just yet) and one by one we performed our monologues to the class, focusing on our projection. According to David, one of the main problems of our dialogues was that a lot of us weren't loud enough, so he wanted to ensure that it didn't happen again in our next performance.

I find projection exercises to be extremely helpful, as they help to warm up my voice and set the bar as to how loud I have to aim to be. After the projection, we took turns to perform our monologues to the class. It was really interesting to see where the rest of our class had gotten up to, and I started feeling a little nervous because I really wasn't as prepared as others! I had a basic idea of what I wanted to do, but I hadn't really gotten up and acted it out properly, but it was a good starting point. After the peer performances, we broke off into little groups and worked with each other on how to prove. Emma gave me some excellent ideas and pointers on how to get my accent exactly right, as it was a little terrible during the run. We all also got a chance to work individually with David, so that he could help us perfect our monologues. We talked a lot about my piece, and the context surrounding the monologue so that I knew what emotions I should be channeling in my piece. It was such a big help, and really made me feel a lot more confident in the piece that I was doing.

Next week is performance week and the last tutorial for this class. I hope it all goes well!


Week Fourteen

This week was the last tutorial, and also performance week! On Tuesday I tagged along with my friend Christian to watch his class perform, and oh my gosh, every one was so amazing! A few people could have been just a touch louder, as I was sitting at the back and could hardly hear them but other than that, and there were a few stumbles and missed lines, but everyone was really focused, and managed to bring it back. It was so exciting to see what the other class gets up to, and they are all a seriously talented bunch!

On Thursday it was our turn. Unfortunately this week (due to rather intense Children's Theatre rehearsals paired with being in a confined space with 50 sick people) I had fallen ill, and lost my voice so I was really worried about how well I could project. Eventually it was my turn to perform, and I managed to get through it all without coughing up my lung on stage, so all-in-all, I think it went well! My whole class was absolutely incredible, and it was so great watching all the different interpretations of the same text.

This entire unit has been such an excellent learning experience. I've grown so much as a person and an actress, and I really just want to say a huge thank you to David and my classmates because they were all absolutely awesome to work with!

Looking forward to AP2 next year!!


Until next time!

- Cat x



PLEASED YOU GOT MESSAGE.
I FOUND BRECHT STORIES FASCINATING AND WELL DONE.
David

Some really nice comments here- especially good criticall feedback from workshops. I am pleased you found some of the tasks helpful. Your understanding of work ethic shows in your class attitude- very consttuctive.
I think you need to include more evidence of reading and outside research in this journal.
I enjoyed reading it

D- Some good stuff here, especially with regards to the workshops and the process of your own acting. There's also real personality in your writing, which made it great to read, I felt you could have gone further, especially in the analysis of ideas and in readings adn research. But a good energetic journal- good work.