WEEK ONE:

Firstly! Hello, my name is Charlotte Westrip. I am 21 years old (almost 22 ahh), and this is my FOURTH!! year at uni... but only second year at Murdoch. I've been acting/training in acting, singing and dance for the better part of my life, and after having a quarter life crisis where I tried out a couple of uni courses at Curtin, settled down in a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Theatre and Drama here at Murdoch.

Over the long uni break I read a few plays whenever I could, and began writing a cabaret show, to keep myself busy (watch this space...).
I was really excited to come into second year of Theatre and Drama, and had heard great things about AP 1. During the week one lecture I was really engaged by the content (which is not always the case in lectures), in particular hearing about all the pioneers of theatre over the years. A lot of them I was familiar with, but there were also a lot that I had never heard of, and am excited to learn more about them over the semester. Most of them are never spoken of...except at universities...
The lecture and tute had a focus on Stanislavski; a theorist whose ideas I have worked extensively with over the last few years. For the most part, I agree with Stanislavski's ideas. I believe that acting, and creating on stage must be true; in all scenes and characters there needs to be an element of truth coming from the actor to affect an audience (which, I believe, is ultimately the goal of acting - to affect). A lot of Stanislavski's techniques back this up. For example, his ideas of emotional and sense/muscle memory - where an actor will recall an emotion or physical feeling they have experienced before to enhance a character or scene - draws on a truth and a genuine emotion.
The idea of truth is one that I have always used in my performance and one that I would like to explore further through this semester in AP1.

I really like my tute (tuesday 11.30pm); there was a really lovely, trusting feeling in the group as we did some ice breaking exercises and I'm excited to work with everyone this semester.

That's all for now!

- Charlotte Westrip.



WEEK TWO:

I really enjoyed this week! It's gonna be a good 14 weeks - woo!

This weeks tute was largely focused on vocal technique, which is so amazing for me because - even before uni started - I said that this year I needed to improve on my speech and vocal technique. Sometimes I have the tendency to speak as fast as I think and have been working on slowing down my speech to allow more diction & articulation. Recently, I worked with a man John Milson who was SO big on articulation it was crazy, and made me realise how important it is! The vocal exercises we did with Serge this week are ones that I am trying to do each morning before I start my day so I can kick off the day in fine vocal form :). I love doing tongue twisters as a warm up, because they are fun and get your mouth/face (and brain!) working hard. I used to do tongue twisters from Gilber and Sullivan musicals... this was always a favourite haha:


To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock,
In a pestilential prison, with a life-long lock,
Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock,From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!
To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock,
In a pestilential prison, with a life-long lock,
Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock,
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!
A dull, dark dock, a life-long lock,
A short, sharp shock, a big black block!
To sit in solemn silence in a pestilential prison,
And awaiting the sensation
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!
(Gilbert and Sullivan - The Mikado) i will use this next year...thanks
Once again, I loved the vibe given from the group, which is set by Serge and reflected by everyone. Sometimes, with the wrong people, its easy to feel like an idiot, especially doing odd vocal exercises. But everyone seems so goal orientated and focused and I'm finding it very driving and refreshing. I'm sooo excited to get to see the dialogues soon! On the subject of the dialogues, I have been reading through them for a couple of weeks and there's a lot of good female roles, but I identify with Blanche ( A Streetcar Named Desire) more than any other character - she is a character who has fascinated me ever since I first read Streetcar a few years ago, and so this is the dialogue I am looking into at the moment.

Can't think of anything else to write... After this weeks tute I feel like I have a solid goal for this semester (other than acing the unit altogether of course...) in fine tuning my speech and vocal abilities/technique. Feeling good!

- Charlotte Westrip

WEEK THREE:

This week we left naturalism and Stanislavsky behind and started to explore the ideas of Brecht. The two are pretty different...

Whereas Stanislavsky draws upon truth to make a performance real (or natural) and aims for the audience to get lost in the piece and believe it, Brecht goes against this notion and wants to make the audience as aware as possible that they are in fact watching theatre - that it is not real. Brecht's theatre has a purpose that is not to entertain or to move (or is certainly not limited to this); his purpose is larger than that - Brecht aims to challenge the audience. An explanation that Serge gave in the lecture, I thought, described some of Brecht's works and ideas really well:
"... wanted theatre to be provoking and for intervention - a living newspaper that would function as a voice for social change" (Serge Tampolini, 2013). Although the techniques pioneered by Stanislavsky COULD provoke social change (albeit, probably more through the text and the themes of the piece), to do this was Brecht's main objective in theatre. For Brecht, gone were the days of the 'fourth wall', of audiences sitting obediently in the dark, of well hidden backstage areas and scene changes - all these things were innovated and changed by Brecht, who needed the audience to always be aware that what they were seeing was not real.
In a lot of ways, in my opinion, quite a lot of Brecht's techniques seem to be the way of the future for theatre. A lot of contemporary theatre uses his techniques (eg: productions at the Blue Room usually explore some of Brecht's devises). Although there will always be a big place in the arts world for 'traditional' and naturalistic theatre (Black Swan Theatre Co. are very successfully with these pieces), a lot of things I have seen recently encorporate at least a few of Brecht's techniques.
Last month when I was in Sydney I was lucky enough to score tickets to Sydney Theatre Co.'s 'Secret River' - a piece that tells the story of a British ex convict fighting for land with an Aboriginal community. Although the acting, and the text was naturalistic, a few aspects leaned towards Brecht's ideas. For example, on either side of the stage, in full view, was a lighting rig. Adding to that, downstage was a pianist (who also played various other instruments) who was accompanying the piece, also in full view of the audience, and was even aknowledged by the characters once during the action.
external image The-Secret-River-A-11.jpg
A Secret River, Sydney Theatre Company, 2013.

Another production that I was reminded of this week in AP1, was Sondheim's Company, which I saw when in New York in 2007. In this particular production, the actors doubled as the band, so were on stage for most of the time, accompanying songs - sometimes even their own song. The direction and choreography for this was fantastic, as the actors switched between instrumentalist and character so seamlessly, but it definitely broke some barriers for the audience.
external image company2.jpg
Company, Broadway, 2007


Above you can see the cast accompanying another cast member, whilst having to remain in character and within the action.

Here's a clip of that Broadway production (I know you don't like musicals, Serge):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDYvGjZ7Pj8

Often when I see things, and see that they are slightly obscure or different, or 'contemporary', I just think it looks cool and think that the company are attempting something different and unique, but now upon reflection, a lot of those 'different' or 'unique' devices are actually Brecht's. Although (as I have stated in previous entries) I am partial to Stanislavsky in his acting techniques, I cannot deny that I find a lot of Brecht's ideas, and things that have stemmed from Brecht, just as relevant and enjoyable, personally. There is space in my heart for both Stanislavsky and Brecht :).

- Charlotte Westrip

V Good work - so far. It is rigorously reflective....BUT you seemed to have stopped...?


WEEK 4


I found this week really interesting because it kind of brought me out of my comfort zone (which I suppose is the aim of Theatre of Cruelty). Its probably obvious by now that I’m a big fan of Stan the man, but I actually really loved this week’s lecture and tutorial.

The ‘yes’ ‘no’ exercise was so brilliant. It was so interesting to see how so many different emotions could be communicated between actors and an audience through just two words. By the time it was my turn to do this exercise (with the fabulous Daley King) I was curious to see how I coped by only being able to say ‘no’ in a desperate situation. I found myself really relying on emotional processes in my head, and hoping that the process and thoughts I was having was being communicated through non-verbal skills such as my body language and facial expression. I found several different ways to say ‘no’, and several different subtexts for the word (again, through inner processes). It was really fun and a really challenging exercise. I immediately saw how it related to Theatre of Cruelty, as some of the pairs of people really made you feel unnerved, as well as frustrated for them!

I’ve done a similar exercise to this ‘yes’ ‘no’ one before, with a particular Perth director who does it during rehearsal periods (and I’m sure it’s a fairly common exercise). He would ask us to say one of our lines from the current piece and deliver it was several different meanings and subtexts, helping you as an actor to find the meaning for the line you are comfortable with. Not exactly the same but I did find myself having similar thoughts and processes.

WEEK 6

This week in the tutorial we finalised our groups for the dialogues. I’d read most of the dialogues online and so many of them appealed to me (which isn’t often the case!). Initially I was really drawn to the Streetcar Named Desire scene between Blanche and Mitch. I’d read the play a couple of times but had never seen any of it (and I barely remember the movie.. apart from “STELLAAAAA” of course) and I always find it interesting performing something that you’ve NEVER seen done by anyone – because it feels so fresh and original! Anywho, Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf is my favourite play; I saw it when Black Swan did it a few years ago at The Playhouse (rest in peace…). Everything about it is so fantastic and dry and amazing, the characters, themes, plot, twists, ah! So by the end of class I had a group consisting of Cassee, Shannon, James and myself and we had allocated parts for this scene, which involved the four characters of the play; Martha, George, Honey and Nick.
He interesting thing about casting this between the four of us was that there were 3 girls and 1 boy in our group… and 2 male roles in the dialogue. So I gallantly put up my hand to play the male role of George! Hey, why the hell not… That class we really only had discussions about the dialogue and the looming assessment of it but everyone was working well together and having good and contrasting ideas. Very exciting. Stay tuned.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oUA6wirNfE interesting take on Streetcar J

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdEcPD2A6Zk Richard Burton being awesome

WEEK 7

I wasn’t here this week and there was no lecture, booooo.

But here’s some insight into acting from one of the best ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjrdjn7KayU
outrageous!!
WEEK 8

Arghhhh, techhhhhh. Actually that’s an over exaggeration… Or, that’s how I felt before this lecture. The most I’ve ever done in tech was operating a follow spot at Penhros’s theatre for a dance show, which was actually pretty hard because dancers move a fair bit. Anyway, with this tech lecture, I actually understood things?! And using things like clips from War Horse is an awesome vessel for teaching! I was really dreading the production test but I have slightly more confident now.
In the tutorial this week we mainly focused on our dialogues.

This week's tutorial was choc full of rehearsals for our dialogues. Which was great and needed! Our group, as it consisted of four people, found it hard to sync our schedules or have many rehearsals, but we did have one after the lecture on Monday, and used our 2 hour tutorial really well. By this stage we'd come up with all the beats throughout the dialogue, and a pretty good idea of our respective characters and relationships. What took the most time was the blocking, especially as we had minimal pieces of set/props, we had to agree on a vision for the scene and then block from there. By the end of the tutorial, however, it was looking pretty good!

We had about 15 minutes in the performance space with Serge and Tim who both gave some good insight. I think we, as a group, were really absorbed in the piece so it was so good to get an outside objective eye on the work. My main struggle (personally) was that my character was a dry, male, history teacher in his 50's.... pretty different to anything I've done before. Working on physicality and line delivery was more challenging than usually. But that's fun. right..
I feel like our group is really breathing as one and are really in touch with each other as an ensemble and as actors, really good group to be working with. Let's just see how we go next week for assessment!!!

I now fully understand my character and his role in this scene, I feel really clear with that. Our group is working really well together and there’s a good dynamic between the four of us. Now I just need to work on my character for next week J.

WEEK 9

We had the performances this week. Everyone went so well. It was the first time that I had seen most of them act before so it was so interesting to watch them on stage (can’t wait to see monologues).

Our group went up pretty early on in the class. I really am not that good at self evaluating…
Overall I think our group went really well; we all felt really prepared and relatively confident in our performances – so that was nice! When I’m on stage I don’t really tune into what others are doing because I tend to be in the moment, so I can really only assess my own performance.

I feel like I did as well as I expected to, although I could feel myself getting caught up in the logistics of the character and the movement – which is something I rarely do but seeing as this character was such a challenge for me, I think my brain just operated in a different way. Usually I can go into a sort of autopilot on stage and know that I understand the character and scene etc. but in this performance – although I did understand the circumstances and character – I perhaps did not know how to convey that to an audience. But, like I said, overall, I thought that I did as well as I expected to and I was happy with my performance. And my group did really well collectively :D. I’m excited now for the monologues.

WEEK 10

No classes this week….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMG2vNVq0ww


WEEK 11

This week was our last production lecture (and our last lecture period). The whole lecture I was furiously taking notes, careful not to miss anything that Tim said - I really did NOT want to fail that production test. By this lecture I was understanding things more and remembering details as Tim spoke. I've always seen the back of house and production side of theatre as this really foreign concept that I've never even attempted to understand, and by this lecture I was realizing that its not foreign at all :).

In the tutorial we had our production test. I was pretty nervous for it, because its worth 20% and I kept imagining looking at the test and knowing NOTHING (as you do before any test, yes?). By the time it got to do the test we'd had a bit of rehashing and done a bit of practical lighting work.

The test wasn't terrifying! I actually knew about 90% of the answers!!! It was actually funny, because for a lot of the answers I was just recalling on the new information Tim had provided, but for a a fair amount of answers I was tapping into previous theatre work, so I guess I realized that I did actually have some production knowledge in my brain after all.

I came out of the test feeling really positive :).

WEEK 12

No lecture this week. Instead, I confirmed my monologue choice, which I had been uncertain about for the last couple of weeks.

This week in our tutorial Serge wanted us to focus on our physicality, which, as I have previously mentioned, I felt was a weak point of mine in the dialogues and something I really wanted to redeem in the monologues. We did a couple of vocal exercises at the beginning which I soooo appreciate - I always feel really rusty when I don't warm up. we then did a physical exercise where we had to physicalise (That's not a word but you know what I mean) sentences that Serge said to us. Examples of the sentences were 'An ant crawls into your mouth" "a snake slides up your spine" "your dancing with your shadow". Individuality, we had to react to these sentences in a physical manner. It was really interesting actually, and although about 20 people around me were doing really odd things, I felt really focused on my body and the thought process and reasoning behind the physical reactions. I think that to move physical on stage your character needs a motivation for it... Its wrong to slam your fist because it looks awesome and dramatic, it needs to be motivated by a thought from your character, otherwise it can look superficial and awkward. excellent observation...So doing this exercise I felt myself unconsciously building an inner monologue in my head, and starting to build a character around these random statements being called out. It was interesting, because it seemed a few people in the class had the same reaction - trying to build a character or a narrative.
The exercise really helped with my monologue, which, I believe, is quite powerful so I don't want to stuff it up with sub-par physicality!

On a side note, but also following the theme of physicality, this week I saw A Clockwork Orange with my brother at Subiaco Arts Centre. I went in to the show really curious (if you've seen the movie or read the book, you'll know why) but it was the most extraordinary and beautiful piece of theatre I think I've ever experienced. The team of actors (all male) were also dancers, and a lot of the violence was wonderfully choreographed. The whole thing - especially the part of Alex - was extremely physical, definitely not naturalistic, but it all worked so, so well. Production wise it was absolutely flawless - granted, they have already done this in London, and on the East Coast - but the lighting and sound design complimented the story so well and was just awesome, and impeccably executed. It really inspired me.

This is the trailer of the original London production (same cast).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbpdrQxUAc4


WEEK 13


This week our tutorial was dedicated to our monologues. We had the opportunity to break into small groups to show our peers, before going in to a private session with Serge and Tim.

My monologue is from an Australia piece called The Seed, by Kate Mulvany. It's semi autobiographical and tells the story of Rose, whose father is a Veitbnam veteran, as she meets her grandfather for the first time and all these family secrets start to unravel.
In my monologue Rose talks directly to her Grandfather about how she cannot have children, due to (I assume) Agent Orange that her dad was exposed to during Vietnam. The monologue starts off very politely and is a story she has explained many times to people, but it soon becomes very dark as she delves into feelings she has never expressed to anyone.
It is a really tough monologue to perform, you have to allow your mind to go into a pretty dark place, which is very particularly pleasant but (hopefully) makes for a good performance. During my one on one time with Tim and Serge I got some helpful feedback, and they mirrored my existing views on it, so it was good to know I was on the right track. They seemed pleased with the work I had done and choices I had made, so I was happy with it.

Super excited to perform it next week and see everyone else's!!!!

There's not an awful lot about the Seed online, but I found this trailer from when Melbourne Theatre Company did it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzPmLoZ9ouo

WEEK 14
The last weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek. I was so pumped for the monologues this week. With all the crappy assignments for all my other units, having a monologue as an assessment was making me excited. I watched all of the first Tusday class (9.30am) because I chose Tom's for him so wanted to go see his :D, and everyone elses as well.
All of the monologues were really well chosen and performed really well. Although it was cold in the workshop space and two hours of monologues is a long time, I really enjoyed sitting back and watching everyone. One monologue actually almost brought me to tears, I don't know her name because I'm not in that class, but the emotion being driven through the text was amazing!! And Tom was awesome, well worth getting up early for.
Then it was my classes turn :). I hadn't seen anyone's yet so I was soooo excited. I think (myself included) the dialogues limited some people creatively so I was interested to see people's monologue choices and artistic choices.
I went about fourth. I never really recall myself performing, especially monologues, I think I go into autopilot and let my artistic brain and the emotional decisions I've made take over. Anyway, so I don't rally remember. But I think I did well. It was a hard monologue to pull off and (as I've talked about last week) I had to start thinking pretty dark thoughts to tap into that mindset that my monologue is in. So I hope that that came off and that it sounded genuine. I guess we'll see when I get my grade for it :).
Everyone's was really good, I loved watching everyone I had been learning with all semester, was really cool.
Here's a copy of my monologue:
The Seed by Kate Mulvany


ROSE:
There was a spray that Dad breathed in and now I don’t have the eggs.
They.’ve all been destroyed by radiotherapy and even if they found one, I
can.’t carry it. The tumour wiped out half my organs, my body can.’t support
a baby. Grandda, I.’m thirty and I.’ve just started menopause.

I will never have children. [Beat] I will never have children. [Beat] I will
never have children. And you know what? I don.’t think I deserve them
anyway. When a friend tells me she is pregnant I smile and hug and kiss
and ask her dumb questions. .‘How far along?.’ .‘Any names picked yet?.’
.‘What are you craving?.’ But I don.’t let on what I.’m craving. That despite my
big smile and congratulations I.’m green and I.’m bubbling and I.’m thinking,
you bitch, I hope it fucking dies inside you, you bitch. And when a pregnant
woman walks past me on the street I want punch her belly and walk away
when she falls to the ground and just leave her there to deal with it. And
when a husband tells me he.’s having his third boy I want to put my hand
down his pants and rip his fucking cock off and squeeze it dry of any seed.
And when I see a baby in a pram.…[beat.] I just want to pick it up and smell
its skin and hold it to my heart and stoke its little head and never let
another person touch it for the rest of its life. Is that normal, Grandda? I
don.’t know. And I never will. Because the seed stops here.


Well I guess this is it for wiki journals for this semester! I've really enjoyed this unit and I've learnt a lot about myself, my strengths and weaknesses as a performer, and about acting and production in general. Looking back on the old journals (when I was a naive 21 year old.. now i'm 22 woooo) it feels like so long ago. The transformation from everyone from week 1 to the monologues this week is just incredible.

Thank you both Serge and Tim, loved this unit. Bring on AP2.


A very competent journal...that charts the progress of the unit. Well done. I would have liked to have read more from outside the unit...I know you did...but more...nevertheless D+
Until next time......
Charlotte Westrip.