Introduction


Hey everyone!

Well I guess this is where I say a little bit about myself and try to give some semblance of structure to what I'm gonna attempt to do here. My name is James, I'm a second year uni student at Murdoch...but you all knew that. I'm doing a double major in Film and Radio, and my dream is to be an onstage performer. Big dreams I know, but hey - dream big or go home, right?

But seriously.

When I was young I watched all sorts of tv shows like Barney and Friends, Play School and Sesame Street, and I'd constantly tell my parents how much I wanted to join in with all the others kids and have fun. And pretty soon I figured out that all those kids came from another place entirely, and that unless my parents came up with a large chunk of money, that dream wasn't going to come true any time soon. So I waited. And waited. And waited. And finally came to high school where I could actually study the stuff I'd wanted to do since I was little!

But somehow the lessons didn't seem to click like I thought they would. For various reasons by the time I graduated high school I felt like I hadn't truly learnt anything about the craft I'd loved for so long. Nearly two years later I gained the opportunity to audition for my first real show and I scored a role! Nothing major, but it was the gateway that lead to an intense year of both community and professional theatre, meeting a plethora of performers and a boost in confidence that I had no idea I needed.

And since then I've debated with myself about trying to learn about my craft. To be perfectly honest I've been absolutely terrified about studying it. I've been afraid of addressing those things which I don't understand, fearing that I won't be able to understand them. I've been afraid of the possibility that I'm really not good enough to make my dream come true. And I've been scared that if I let down that wall and make myself vulnerable, that I'll let the judgments of others dictate how far I let myself go.

But I'm not the same person I was when I started this journey over a year ago. And I'm excited to begin this journey and explore this path and begin to discover just who I really am.

That's enough for now - stay tuned!

James

Week 2


Alrighty then!

Today was my first opportunity to attend a tute and I thoroughly enjoyed it! It was a little scary entering the space for the first time, but thankfully the atmosphere was easy going and pleasant. I was intrigued to know what we would be covering during the tutorial, and I was pleased to find that the task at hand was simplistic (in theory) - learn to breathe. Serge as a tutor was brilliant during this class; everything that he explained to us came really easy. In relation to my previous post, this was a real encouragement because I was so unsure about what to expect. So following the breathing exercises I was feeling quite good!

Then we came to naming objects. First having to name them what they are (ie. calling a candle a 'candle'), then having to call them what they're not (ie. calling a candle a 'tower'). Serge explained this as actors having to identify another actor as a character, not the actor "going through the motions". At first the task was challenging because I allowed my brain to pick any word it pleased. Then I drew an idea from character building. One of the concepts behind Stanislavski'scharacter building is that you draw on experiences from your own life, in essence putting a portion of yourself into the character and bringing it to life. I attempted the same but applied it to the objects instead, by giving them names of things they reminded me of. So when it came to addressing them and speaking to these objects I found myself easily slipping into the frame of mind that these objects were as I named them.
Looking forward to seeing what happens when you replace objects with people/actors/characters


Regardless it felt surreal at first seeing the assorted objects lying on the floor with people calling out such random names as I couldn't remember, but then I had a moment of revelation: we're all on the same boat here. It doesn't matter who among the people in the class were third years or first years, stage veterans or stage virgins - we were all in the same space trying to achieve the same thing. Strange as it might sound, I felt a sense of camaraderie with my classmates and it was brilliant - I no longer felt like I was behind or needed to play catch up. In that moment we were all on the same level. Ensemble work is so important ... along with relaxation it is the foundation of acting...

Now I'll be intrigued to see where we all end up by the end of the semester! My fav part of the unit is to see where people go to and what they achieve at the end of it...

James - excellent reflections and observations. serge

Week 3


One word: Brecht. Another word: Terrifying D':

Going back to what I said in my introductory journal entry, drama in high school wasn't exactly the most inspiring experience for me. And since then, opinions on said education have varied - but mostly we can assume that it wasn't top notch. Now prior to this week Brecht was a familiar name to me. He was in fact one of the two names I can honestly recollect with some amount of information from the high school years along with Stanislavski. Now Brecht was always a strange concept to me. Coming in with no experience I could understand Stanislavski perfectly, just by watching tv and movies! Being real and believable, drawing on emotion, etc - perfectly fine. But performance that is the complete opposite to that? Me and Brecht were like butting rams.

Fast-forward to this week where all of a sudden the cause and purpose for Brechtian performance becomes absolutely clear! A concept that evaded me for three years in high school, I managed to understand in one lecture. Is something wrong here? To be honest part of me is thinking this is too good to be true and that I don't actually understand Brecht and that I'm actually failing horribly. But since no one's pulled me aside to have a serious talk about how I'm gonna need to put in a few extra hours, I'm gonna assume that's my lack of confidence talking.

The workshop was a real test to put some of the Brechtian skills together. I think by the time we got to perform "Kiss My Hand" I had a rough idea of what it meant to perform a Brechtian piece; to make it absurd to the point where the audience couldn't possibly lose themselves in the theatricalities, but rather be forced to listen to the words and observe the meaning inherent in the parts we emphasised (the murder of language, the opening and closing of doors. ie. moral structures and systems).

I think what I find most terrifying about Brecht is the lack of person that I put into the characters. GOOD OBSERVATION Most everything else I've ever done is based in Realism and Naturalism, so of course it's not simply knowledge of what to do to perform a Brechtian piece, but the internal knowledge of how to perform. However after the exercise during the tute I feel a lot more confident in Brecht and his work. I'd definitely be more interested in performing some more Brechtian pieces in the future!
cassee- a brechtian breakfast club dialogue, Jamison !? ^__^

James

Week 4


Believe me when I say I deliberately delayed posting this journal entry. First of all I've had many assignments / portions of research that have regrettably had to have come first, but I'm here now! Plus it gave me an opportunity to at least try to wrap my head around Artaud Grotowski... yeah didn't get very far with that.

My most distinct difference between Brecht and Grotowski that I can pick is that Brecht wanted to make theatre a place where the audience could analyse what was happening around them at the time, whereas ARTAUDGrotowski wanted to make the theatre a complete sensory experience, as well as reveal the subconscious in the viewer. As was explained during the lecture, it's hard to describe a theatre that did not truly take place, but in fact was Artaud's life. Now what impacted me is that this suggests that all theatre of cruelty is a reflection of Grotowski's life. Which while kinda scary is also absolutely brilliant.

An Andalusian Dog by Luis Buñeul = messed up. I know it comes under theatre of cruelty but goddamn I cannot get passed the eyeball getting cut open. Although in that I can absolutely associate with the sensory overload and the revealing of the pain in my subconscious which very quickly came through to the surface in the form of a yelp. Or a scream. Or a cry. Actually I think it was more of a moan of disgust. Either way without immediately realising it I became actively involved with Grotowski's work!

But what I think I find most fascinating about Artaud, is that he suffered from mental diseases for most of his life. He wasn't a man who was well put together with a lot of money, he wasn't necessarily the inspiring director that many are famed for and he certainly wasn't noted for his trust (I believe he feared there was a conspiracy of magic against him?) - quite simply he was broken. And I think what we as people miss so often is that we're all broken; all of us in different ways, some bigger and some smaller - but all broken. And this was a man who was quite distinctly broken. And yet not only did he overcome this brokenness to create something fantastic and different, he utilised his brokenness - there was not a piece untouched as he stitched together what has become the theatre of cruelty. And owing to this I can understand why theatre of cruelty is a reflection of Artaud's life; because it Artaud's life.

And I think that's what makes it good theatre. Not the intensity or the sensory overloading, but the fact that we are allowed to see the madman made sane. Which to me is kinda cool :) VERY COOL

James

Week 6


Okay so,

The past weeks lecture was...interesting. I felt awash with so many names of thespians and directors that I looked at it all and thought "oh my god, is there no niche unfilled in theatre?" and of course the short answer is I have no idea - but I do believe that my perception of these niche styles has changed somewhat. I was originally under the impression that they were overdone, far to "artsy", confusing, etc. but after having viewed certain pieces (ie. Pina, directed by Wim Wenders and The Far Side of the Moon by Robert Lepage) I feel that I have a better appreciation for these genres and styles of theatre.

I don't know why (believe me I don't - I'm not a dancer. I mean I can do choreography quite well but I don't know dance, or dance styles or really anything like that) but Pina by Wim Wenders really stood out to me. The concepts suggested of in the trailer hit home to me as I watched. In fact when Serge turned off the video I was almost ready to call out and beg for more! I feel like in my own mind I divide performance into basic groups, like acting, singing, dancing, writing, etc. but what Bausch does is she breaks down that very barrier and she makes you realise that there is no line really - that everything is connected, and that when you utilize these things to your advantage you can create something original and absolutely amazing. The video makes me want to learn dance; to study it and to use it, and that was just from watching the trailer! I would hope one day to be a part of something so spectacular. EXCELLENT

Then there was Robert Lepage who was key in establishing multimedia theatre; the concept of which I was a little sketchy. Before observing the video I felt that fusing multimedia with theatre was a little stupid to be perfectly honest. Along with theatre I also study film, and one thing that I have observed is that film and theatre are distinctive and both have their time and place. However as I watched the video I quickly realised that there is much more to the concept of multimedia than simply film; sound, art, colour, light - so much that contributes to this genre and it blew me away with how simple it can be. But by the same token I also saw how it could very quickly get out of hand and be terrible for everyone concerned :p

But aside from these revelations, what else did I experience in the past week? WELL unfortunately my alarm didn't go off in time and I happened to miss a large portion of the tutorial, and upon my arrival Cassee attempted to make me believe that everyone had made out in my absence which of course I didn't believe and figured that it was simply her trying to make me feel bad for not being there on time. And then everyone validated that that was what actually happened and I felt like I'd missed a million things! Needless to say I felt somewhat undone at that point and was thankful to throw myself into script reading for the dialogues (gotta love Who Killed Virginia Woolf?)

In any case on a slightly more personal note, I feel like I've begun to really hit my stride on AP1. Not in any particular way or feel, but I simply feel like I've become accustomed to what frame of mind I have to be in to achieve what I need to, to do well. Regardless I'm sure the coming week will prove to be a challenge to me (at least I'm hoping so!) YOU HAD/DID

James

Week 7


[Insert mini phrase to get the ball rolling because I'm unoriginal and can never think of a good way to start these things :p]

To be perfectly honest I was really unsure about what would be happening during the tute because there was no lecture, so I assumed it'd be used as extra time to work on the dialogues which due to my late awakening last week I mostly missed out on last week :p SO today was productive for me! Until I found out that both Shannon and Charlotte were away and that it was only me and Cass. And then I swear we were infinite WAIT NO[/thisbullshit]

And then I kinda freaked out because I thought to myself "How on earth are we supposed to do this with just the two of us?" BUT after a few minutes attempting to decide what style we wanted to use and where the beats were we quickly began to discern various factors we wanted to include in the dialogue. And it was so much fun! The process was essentially:
  • Read text to see where we're up to
  • Consider what stage directions and actions to include in relation to the styles we'd chosen and the beat the text fell under
  • Epically agree with Cass since we pretty much had the same ideas and helped flesh out each others ideas [we're a good team, fear our might].
  • Flesh out ideas to encapsulate what we're trying to say [also as notes for Charlotte and Shannon when we see them].
  • Present it all to Serge who was like "ZOMFG I LUV IT SOOOO MUCH FFS ITS B-E-A-UTIFUL JESUS FUCK". I should note here I am able to translate peoples words into teen-speak - it's a passion of mine.

The only thing I'm unsure of is what Charlotte and Shannon are going to think of the work we've done. Although I feel they're the kind of people that aren't gonna care all too much so fingers crossed! Besides today was so much fun. I remember looking around and seeing people just having so much fun exploring all these different styles. And I think no matter what styles and beats we choose for the dialogues I'm really excited to experiment with different styles and beats in the future.

Also the monologue I've chosen is from "Sex Diary of an Infidel" by Michael Gurr. I stumbled upon this monologue a little while ago and had a fun time exploring it with the absolute minimal knowledge of theatre that I had [and still have], so I'm excited to apply what I've been learning to the monologue to make it different!

And now a joke to send you off in style!
Q: What happened when the butcher backed up into his meat grinder?
A: He got a little behind in his work!

James

P.S. I'm totally gonna post a joke at the end of each journal now just cuz I can! You have no idea what has begun,..

Week 8


YAY TECH!

Okay, so as I've mentioned before I've had some community theatre experience prior to this unit at Murdoch. Now while I've been an actor in all these situations, I've had the opportunity to engage in other roles, such as lighting, sound, stage management, props, costume, make up and front of house - I've done a fair bit :p again not to any major extent, but I've still been able to see these production roles in action. Now today during the lecture I was quite proud of myself in that very little of what was spoken was unknown to me; everything spoken on reaffirmed what I've experienced in the past (which is always quite encouraging), but one thing that was definitely new were the 10 steps of lighting from the very start until the end. They are:
  1. Read the script
  2. Ask the Director
  3. Watch the rehearsals
  4. Design it
  5. Rigging
  6. Patching
  7. Focusing
  8. Plotting
  9. Tech Run
  10. Run the show

Now someone may or may not have hinted very strongly that the order of these events will be in the test, so I decided to make a song out of them (I once did this with Children's Studies when I made a Mission Statement using each letter of the alphabet for something different)!

"You gotta read the script at the very start,
Ask the person with direction on their heart.
Watch the actors; see how things play out,
Design the lighting as they walk about.
Rig it up, climb way up high
Patch it on through to the other side.
Focus the lights to be exact,
Plot the location on the written map.
Tech run it so everyone can get the flow,
Now all that's left is to run the show!"

I really think I should get points for that (I'm totally willing to sing it in class btw)! Now because I promised to start doing puns at the end of all my journals...

Did you hear? All the toilets in the New York City Police Department have been stolen! Experts say they've got nothing to go on!

James
An excellent journal so far...you have a fine enquiring mind and a great sense of presence in your practical work...looking forward to seeing more of your acting work...

Week 9


We covered more about lighting this week; again I felt like I knew a little bit about everything spoken on but of course there was so much I had to learn! It was good to finally learn the difference usages for a patch point and a 3 phase plug and how it all connects but what I really found interesting was how the different lights are grouped together to light the stage. I think in my mind I always knew there was a reason why lights are placed the way they are on a lighting rig, but it made so much sense to hear them being grouped to light the particular sections of the stage, and even more so to consider a perfect 3-point lighting system for each individual space!

Most of what I discovered this week is all the little things which go in to making things work. For example, today after class my dialogue group came together and rehearsed in the space to clarify our positions and finalize what we shall be performing tomorrow. I realized how many little things we had still not worked out and what things we needed to work on in order for us to be ready, and so I feel I have a stronger appreciation for the things which are small; they can seemingly be passed on or put aside but eventually must be addressed and dealt with, so why not deal with them as they come and treat them with the same respect as the bigger things?

And of course this is a lesson that also rings true in life. One can only hope it's something I could one day apply to a real-life situation and think to myself "I learned this in AP1"!

Me: What's a pirates favourite letter?
Friend: R!
Me: You'd think so, but it's actually the C!

James

Week 11


THE WEEK OF THE LIGHTING TEST

Well I don't know if I'm meant to make a journal for this week, but hey - I've got nothing better to do :p So as I stipulated above this week was the week of the lighting test and I reckon I nailed it! First one out and I didn't really have to think of any of the answers; not to say that it was overly easy but I actually enjoyed both portions of the test! I liked getting to prove to myself that I knew more than what I thought I did, which is great because I really enjoy lighting as a stage tool, but as well I loved getting to play around with the lights! Granted they took some getting used to, it was so much fun casting light and figuring out just how much control I had over the colour, shape, sharpness and size of the light that was cast. That's all I really have to say about the lighting.

BUT THERE'S MORE

Anthony posted in the Queer Collective Facebook group about a night (or series of nights) of monologues dedicated to sex and sensuality; the idea of being like the Vagina Monologues but coming from an array of gender and sexual backgrounds to give the audience a chance to perceive these concepts in a new light. I mention this because when I first came to uni they had the big chalkboard outside the library with the incomplete statement, "Before I graduate I will..." and every time I passed it I wrote "I want to write an original play/monologue", and here's the chance sitting in front of me! So I'm excited to put my writing skills to the test and be a part of something like this.

I get this journal entry was probably pointless but for those who aren't aware, I'm doing two major production units this semester alongside AP1, plus I'm currently understudy for the lead in Pirates of Penzance, so I've got quite a bit going on and not much of it is writing which to be perfectly honest I've missed. SO here's me spending time doing something I actually really enjoy; speaking to people through the written medium. And going by that I'm confident that the monologue(s) I submit will be good :)

James

Week 12


Well now,

This week was really interesting. All the exercises in class were really helpful, especially since they came about as a result of our dialogues. First of all we worked again on our annunciation and vowels so that was helpful in just reminding myself of the various sounds I need to make and how I need to shape my mouth to achieve them. But it was the second portion of the class which really took my attention. Serge had us stand around in the space, and as he read out various images we had to enact them. At first it felt really robotic; partly because in my mind I knew it was a class exercise but also partly because I was focusing on all the new images that he would read out. That is until the images came to an end and he started from the beginning. We went through a few times, gradually picking up speed or leaving out certain components and images until he told us to go off with our own images.

People seemed to take this in a few ways. The first group of people struggled because they were relying on the cues of others to perform their image. The second group of people seemed to fare very well; only noting the existence of other people when they collided in the physical space. The final group of people were spatially aware unlike the prior group, and though noted to keep out of the way spatially of other people, did not convey that message consciously. I feel like I was a member of the final group because I was aware of the people around me and aware therefore of which images I would do and not do depending on the space around me.

All in all this week was a great week. It was informative and fun; plus a good lesson for me as an actor - don't ever be satisfied that good enough is good enough; push it until you experience the finality that says that this will bring my character to life. GOOD WORK

James

Week 13


So for lack of a better intro,

This week was very straight forward; no more lectures so I'm encouraged that I know everything that I need to know, and we got the chance to showcase our monologues for what we'd rehearsed. The monologue I'd chosen was of the character Martin from Sex Diary of an Infidel by Michael Gurr (Australian play from the 70s/80s). Because I hadn't been able to find it myself I was a little worried that I'd completely missed the context of the piece, outside of the research I'd done prior. But it was encouraging to know that even if I couldn't find a copy of the play that I could in fact work around that in my delivery which was awesome! Still gonna look for the script, but I'm feeling much more confident now :)

James

Week 14


IT'S MONOLOGUE WEEK!

And boy oh boy was I nervous! I can't even begin to explain how nervous I was! So I'll just allow a sizable paragraph of highlightable "blank space" to explain my emotions leading up to the performance.

OH HOLY MOTHER OF CHRIST AND CRAP ON A STICK I WOKE UP THIS MORNING BTW I'M WRITING THIS ON THE SAME DAY THAT I DID MY MONOLOGUE, IS THAT A GOOD IDEA? I HAVE NO IDEA BUT SINCE I'VE ALREADY STARTED WRITING I'M GONNA CONTINUE. ANYWAYS I WOKE UP THIS MORNING AND EVEN THOUGH I'VE BEEN FULLY AWARE THAT TODAY IN PARTICULAR WAS THE DAY THAT I WAS GOING TO BE PERFORMING MY MONOLOGUE IN FRONT OF EVERYONE IT WAS AT THAT MOMENT WHEN I WOKE UP WHEN IT FIRST HIT ME AND OH MY GOD, SCREW YOU EMOTIONS FOR PICKING THE BEST TIME TO CATCH UP WITH THE REST OF ME. ANYWAYS I WAS ALSO WAITING ON MY SCRIPT WHICH I ORDERED ONLINE AFTER THE LAST CLASS AND THEY HADN'T SENT IT AND I WAS SO ANNOYED BECAUSE I REALLY WANTED TO READ UP ON IT AND IT WASN'T ANYWHERE TO BE FOUND ONLINE. SO BEFORE CLASS I WAS WORKING HARD TO FOCUS MYSELF ON THE NOTES SERGE HAD GIVEN ME THE PREVIOUS WEEK BUT I KEPT HAVING THIS RECURRING THOUGHT THAT EVERYONE ON THE PANEL HAD SEEN IT BEFORE AND I WAS GONNA BE A TOTAL LETDOWN BUT THEN WE ALL HAD TO GO IN AND I SAT THROUGH SEVERAL AMAZING MONOLOGUES BEFORE IT WAS MY TURN. I MAY ALSO HAVE BEEN SWEATING JUST A LITTLE BIT. PROBABLY DIDN'T HELP THAT I WAS WEARING A SUIT JACKET AS THE MAIN FOCUS OF MY COSTUME. ANYWAYS BACK TO THE ACTUAL JOURNAL ENTRY.

So I got up and performed my monologue. And in actual fact I feel like I did pretty damn good! There were giggles from the audience and a decent round of applause from them (and panel too I'm hoping) and I came back to my seat satisfied with what I did. A few people afterwards asked me for honest critique and I gave it, and I also asked them for honest critique. Mostly people seemed to enjoy my monologue which makes me very happy. I feel like I've come to the end of semester more confident about this acting thing! YOUR HAVE PROGRESSED INTELLIGENTLY AND CREATIVELY

Which I guess means that this is my last journal. It's so weird to look back on all my old journals and think things like the naming the objects on the floor exercise was so early in the semester! Literally months ago. And it's funny to think that so many things I was worried about at the start of semester don't even phase me anymore. Like I walked into the first lecture thinking "goddamn everyone here already seems to know everyone, how do I deal with this?!" but now I feel like we're all on the same level; we're all just people moving through life trying to get through uni and discover ourselves one piece at a time. And I guess at the end of the day that's what I've really achieved through this unit. I've learned that I am so much more than I imagined. I've grown so much this semester through AP1 and other things that it is insane. I've rediscovered this inner strength that's been missing for so long and it feels good to have it back. EXCELLENT And I can guarantee you that whether in theatre, film, radio or even just in life, I am going to take this strength and I am going to step out into the world and introduce myself.

Hello, my name is James Hynson. Now watch me run.

End

THIS IS AN EXCELLENT GENUINELY REFLECTIVE JOURNAL...WELL DONE ... HD