To Begin.

The workshop today was a great start to the unit. I've always found that the sooner a group works together in a physical sense the easier it is to work together later on. We are all coming from different backgrounds and ideals however the dynamic worked really well, and there seemed to be a positive energy and an overall sense of trust which can sometimes be quite difficult to attain within a new group of people.
I believe that aside from acting and production this unit is strongly focused on the entire "cog" that the theatre is which is so important for everybody to respect and understand.
That is all for the time being.

1st March

Trust in People, Trust in Groups, Trust in Yourself.

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The trust exercises that we ran in the first workshop made me feel slightly uneasy. I didn't realise why at the time, but I just remembered. Year 10 drama class we had been working as a group throughout the year and building our trust with each other as a result of similar exercises we did in our recent workshop. I was paired with a girl and blindfolded. For the first time all year we took the exercise outdoors into a park. Our teacher decided that we were ready to add speed combined with voice commands. I felt completely confident with movement and felt like I'd really broken through any underlying issues I had with trust. Then my partner told me to run. Faster and faster. I was breathless and it felt incredible running with no direction and no sense of space or vision. It was almost like a dream, until a low hanging branch brought me back to reality. My partner had taken her eyes off me. I hit the branch so hard I pulled the blindfold off and had blood running into my eye. It wasn't so much the pain but the shock that got me. I must admit there were other emotions too such as anger and resentment at how someone could be so careless. The worst part about it was that she laughed. I realise that everybody deals with emotions differently but that was just the sour icing on a poorly formed sponge cake. What a horrible experience!!
During the "blind" workshop (because there were no actual blindfolds) I will admit that at certain times I squinted so I could just make out objects and shapes. I squinted when we sped up, also when Tim was playing around with the lights and when I did not know where I was.
This is something I will need to work on I do understand. However, how can you ever really trust others?
The only time I have come close to that feeling of absolute trust has been with individuals who I'd known and worked with in many different shows throughout the years. Trusting others within the context of the theatre is incredibly important because interaction between others is a core aspect of the theatre making process from beginning to end. Trusting your fellow actors on the stage is also a core element within good theatre. Trusting others to learn their lines, to be respectful of one another, to be prepared and also to not surprise one another by going off on other tangents. Trust is as paramount to the theatre as it is within any type of relationship and I believe that building trust is worth putting a lot of time into.

Stanislavski and Workshops.

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The vocal warm-ups and general relaxation exercises in the second workshop were not anything I haven't done before however they were exercises I have not done in a very long time. It made me wonder why. I have always thought that the body functions as a type of machine and that like all other machines you must keep it in good tune. Good fuel, warm it open, perhaps get it serviced every now and again and maybe most importantly, use it. The longer you don't use certain muscles in the body the harder it becomes to engage them again. The workshop almost acted as a wake up call. My lung capacity was poor, my tongue was slow and my body was far from nimble. Since the workshop I have been working on these things by doing the vocal warm ups, tongue twisters and also working on my own awareness within spaces.
Stanislavski had a theory that in order to achieve a natural and convincing character an actor must be relaxed and rid of unwanted tension. I agree with his theory that relaxation is essential. All actors have their own lives and realities and in order to truly escape ones own reality there must be a process whereby all emotions and thought processes are temporarily shut down in order for a completely new thought process and emotional journey to begin. Through relaxation of the body, the muscles, the senses and the mind the body can wind down to a neutral state and then build back up again. An appropriate metaphor would be like a logging off and logging into a computer, it is the same computer however one user has logged off and in the process taken all their details and files, the computer then sits dormant until another user uploads their information and details.
Stanislavski also stresses the importance of a characters onstage 'journey' being dynamic and continuous and this being achieved by understanding your character motivations from the beginning right through to the end. Who, what, where, when and how. "Kiss my hands" is a rapid example of how a persons motivations can dramatically alter within such a short period of time. "The Hour" and the "Chicken wing scene" that we watched in the lecture are also great examples of not only the driving force within a scene but also placing the character within the context of the entire story. Both clips took into account Stanislavski's idea that in order to be natural and convincing a character must be a continuous being with progressive understandings within the context of all the given circumstances.

Workshop Week 3.

Beckett's 'Quad'. I must admit that this performance did very little for me. I can appreciate and understand the relevance of the work within the context of the unit and ensemble work, however I was not able to engage with it. The movement, colours and sound did work together as a fluid representation of human movement and interaction, it just seemed to make that idea very clear quite early and I felt it didn't need to go on for quite as long as it did. I was very surprised to learn that what we saw was only a snippet and that the actual performance goes for about 40 minutes.
On the other hand, the second piece that Serge showed us was brilliant. The two dancers with the three shadows. The movement combined with the visual illusions and manipulation of light along with the phased composition was stunning. It was a great example of extreme control paired with controlled chaos. Loved it and would be very interested in looking at more works of this nature. It also reminded me of the Peking Opera, Mei Lanfang.

During the walking exercise today the groups energy was electric. Playing with different movements, sounds and pace really shifted the group into a new area of trust, understanding and teamwork. I felt at one point that my mind had become very clear, I was no longer thinking of anything or anyone, I was not looking at anything in particular, I just began to trust the sounds and the energy that the space had created.
The second exercise we did took a little while to comprehend, but once we started moving through it it became more clear. I enjoy exercises that involve visualisation, memory and imagination because I believe they work the brain in such an unusual way and have the ability to put you in a higher state of conciousness on some level. It allows you to develop a critical awareness of surrounding spaces and how you react and engage with the space around you. Negotiating others in those spaces added a further layer to the exercise and shifted the perception of what we thought we were doing in our own unique space. It reminded me of the lecture on Epic Theatre and Brecht because the exercise encouraged us to be aware that we were not "actually" in our homes, we were just "acting/pretending" to be in our homes. I think that when you're used to acting in a Stanislavski naturalist style the majority of the time, when it comes to some workshop exercises it's very easy to get carried away with naturalism when you're asked to use memory and visualisation. However this exercise, although it started that way, became increasingly focused on removing those naturalistic concepts in the form of talking to others within the created spaces and using minimal movement and dialogue to represent a space that we had originally created in a realistic context.

"Kiss my hands" - Group dialogue reading.

Good reflective journal so far...

Workshop Week 4.

YES ... NO
I had never done this type of workshop before and I'm very happy to have experienced it with such a great group of people / actors. The minimal nature of dialogue really encourages the ideas of motivation of movement and response. I enjoyed watching how each pair interpreted the task and found their own motivation behind the simple words. It was made even more interesting as the workshop continued because people started to get an idea about what they wanted to achieve in the task and how they'd deliver their word, however with no communication with your fellow actor that pre conception can very quickly be shut down by the response of your partner. I found that to be the case when I went up. I didn't intend that to be the case but I did have a slight idea about how I was going to approach it from the beginning. That soon changed by the way my partner initiated the dialogue, and all of a sudden I was no longer thinking about any sort of strategy I was purely thinking of the only word I could say, which was 'No' and how I could say it to try and bring my partner around. It's amazing how powerful an interaction can be with such minimal dialogue, all of the pairs still managed to create dramatic tension, dramatic climax and to some extent create a story for the two characters that exceeded beyond the simple words of yes and no.

Just playing with emotional registers is so important for actors...words carry what we think...

Dialogues so Far so Good.

Ant and I have been working on the dialogue from Closer by Patrick Marber. Initially I found the dialogue quite challenging. There seemed to be a lack of rhythm and I couldn't quite understand where the characters were coming from. After doing a bit of research about the play it slowly started to make more sense and I started to get a feel for the type of situation that Marber is trying to portray. I'm finding it challenging keeping the conversation naturalistic and I wonder how realistic it will appear to an audience. Ant was suggesting maybe getting some people to watch and give us some constructive criticism which I think will help. The more we read through the script the more we find to work with which is great. There are so many subtleties to the script which can be interpreted and acted in such different ways so I guess for now we're just trying to find what works. The workshops have been extremely helpful especially in regards to physicality.

Pina Bausch (Had to mention)

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I loved what I saw in the lecture about Pina. Her theory about what motivates people to move and the way she expresses those ideas is visually evocative and beautiful. I will definitely watch the film Pina and will be looking into her work and hopefully getting a chance to apply her ideas into my own work at some point.
I also enjoyed the work of Romeo Castelluci, I did feel his work was more based within performance art though, or maybe that was just the small body of work presented to us in the lecture, I will endeavour to look into his work also.

Both are more than worth a visit...

Workshop Week 6.

Yes ... No ... Thank You ... Sorry ...
This worked well as a continuation from the Yes No workshop however I found it strange that while one person was restricted the other person could talk about anything. It seemed a little stiff in comparison, maybe it was because we weren't warmed up or maybe that was the whole point of the exercise, I'm not sure. Adding the improvised dialogue without any boundaries just didn't seem to work as well as the restricted dialogue had previously.
Splitting into pairs and working with someone we hadn't worked with before we then moved onto greetings. Going through the different types of greetings and the cultural significances was interesting and I think it also created a warmth within the group. I'm liking our tutorial group more and more and today really opened my eyes to that fact that we're all really comfortable working with one another. The task of physically portraying everyday occurrences to intense emotions with another human with no dialogue is something that I haven't done too much of. I find it so illuminating just how many different ways there are to express what is essentially the same thing. However it shouldn't be surprising considering that each person sees everything slightly differently and within their own context.
Love of the Knightingale:
This workshop exercise again stemmed from the notion of motivation. The context was taken to a new level, far beyond the YES / NO response workshop. The thought process and emotional components were quite difficult in theory but I found that once they were put into practice the motivations became quite natural. I found that once I understood the context of how the character was placed and the moral dilemmas that she faced it was far easier to to work with a partner on such an intimate level. This was probably the most challenging workshop to date in regards to the level of intimacy and trust required from everybody for it to be successful, which I believe it was.
I would have liked to have seen the other pairs but I must admit it was great working so intimately with one person whilst being in a space with so many other people who you know are working with the same motivation you are. I also liked the freedom of time that was allowed to really absorb the moral context needed to find the motivation not only to move but also to express certain emotions.

Good reflective journal so far...both objectively and subjectively engaging. Looking forward to seeing your practical work.

Dialogues, the Process and Performance.

I must say, I really did enjoy the dialogue task. Rehearsing, developing, performing, the whole process has made me aware of something I thought I had forgotten.
I had not done any real theatrical work since high school and I guess, like anything, if you don't use it you lose it. The main piece of constructive criticism given to me, during rehearsals and after the performance was my lack of projection. This is something I never had an issue with when I did theatre in high school so I was completely unaware I wasn't projecting. Even when I knew this was an issue I wasn't able to fix it straight away. I'm not sure if it has something to do with my confidence in a theatre space, or if it's just that I haven't practised enough in a theatre space lately. I'm glad I'm aware of it now and will endeavour to practise vocal techniques and work on projecting my voice. I think it's probably a combination of confidence and being 'out of the game' so to speak. It's been ten years since I left high school and the person I was then compared to who I am now are quite different. Theatre was my world and I felt at home on a stage, and I suppose I thought that feeling would never go away. To a certain extent it hasn't but I feel it may take some time to feel that sense of kinship with the theatre again, and fall in love with it all, all over again. I know now I cannot hold back into a place I consider safe, or a place where I'm doing this for me or any of that. I realise that acting is a form of communication and story telling to an audience and there is no point in doing what we do if no one can hear us!!

Initially I found the script difficult to navigate, I found it hard to find the beats and make the pauses seem natural. It's a conversational piece between two strangers getting to know one another. Once Ant and I learned our lines we mainly focused on the chemistry and trying to find the rhythm. We wanted to make it as naturalistic as possible, I personally had the 'chicken wing' scene in the back of my mind while we were rehearsing. Probably because we involved food and working with food changes a lot about a dialogue. I also reflected on what Serge talked about when we studied naturalism in the lecture, how it was important for a character to always be doing something. I thought about this a lot from the moment we started reading the script. Where would Alice's eyes be? What would her hands be doing? Would she figet? Would she eat with her mouth closed or open? Would she laugh? How would she start or end a smile? A stunning question!!!

I think Ant and I did a good job overall, from where we started to where we ended up there was change, progress and refinement. Rehearsing was easy with Ant, a welcome change to previous group tasks! We gave each other ideas, new perspectives on ways to navigate the script and helped each other through the process. One thing I found with this particular script was it was quite dependant on the other persons gestures to move the dialogue along, the long pauses and beats made it crucial to know exactly when those gestures came. The play is awkward enough without a pause going on for too long. The pauses felt even longer in front of an audience. I wondered at one point if the audience were thinking that one of us had forgotten our lines. It just felt so silent and so still. I think this is another reason why I wasn't projecting to the level I should've been, because it just felt so so quiet. I definitely forgot about that aspect of the theatre of creating a mood yet rising above it to deliver a story.

I'm really glad we were able to see the other dialogues. I was so impressed with what other groups had come up with and delivered. I found the whole morning quite inspiring and I'm already looking forward to the monologues.

The Technical Side.

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One reason I was so drawn to this unit was the chance to learn more about sound, lighting and pretty much everything that goes on off stage. Tim has a great way of explaining things and I found the lectures on these subjects engaging and informative. I also found that the information has retained, it's an area of theatre that fascinates me and I enjoy practical information, so perhaps that's why it has stuck in my brain.
I like learning things that are useful and vital to an area I want to pursue. What we were learning is quite general, but I guess there has to be a starting point. I would really like to learn more about sound, how to use programs and create soundscapes etc. I would also really like to do some more practical work with lighting.
I think it's so important for actors to have a thorough understanding and appreciation for all aspects of the theatre. It's the same with any industry really, but in the theatre you really are only as strong as your weakest link.


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For the monologues I chose to do a piece from What are the Chances by Kellie Powell. I looked through every monologue on the Wiki and just couldn't find one that I really felt some sort of a connection too. I ended up looking online and I created a shortlist of about five which included; the monologue from Laughing Wild and the monologue from No Exit. I think I settled on What are the Chances for a couple of reasons. The first one being I liked the idea of doing a monologue that I doubted others would do (perhaps this stemmed from the dialogue task where 3 groups did Closer), the second reason being that I could relate to the monologue on a personal level and I thought this would be both challenging and interesting to play with.
It took me awhile to understand the character of Lindsay and where she was coming from. I couldn't figure out how she felt about her ex-husband nor could I gage where she was in her own life. Originally I read the script as if she regretted the way she had treated her ex-husband. I read her part as though she was ignorant of all she had done to hurt him and this was her realisation of what a bad person she was. The result of reading her monologue in this way was that it became very laboured, there were long pauses and the monologue lacked rhythm and continuity. Some of the phrases in the script didn't seem to make sense either. I found myself questioning this characters motivation and wondering what on earth was going through her head during certain moments. Why would she be sad if she says this ... and would she actually feel guilty when she seems to not care at all?
I began trialling out different interpretations, still playing around with the guilt element but adding more comedy into the beginning of the monologue. It still didn't feel right though. I needed help.
Luckily Serge arranged a few one on one rehearsals which turned out to be the missing ingredient. After watching what I'd done Serge agreed that something wasn't quite right. He asked me where I thought the character was coming from and I guess this is where my own personal connection with the monologue came through. I had taken the opinion that Lindsay felt sorry for her ex because he was hanging onto something that was no longer there, but I don't think she held any feelings for him anymore. Serge agreed and from there we thought it would be even better to push that idea even further. The next time I read it through with all of this in mind, felt a lot better. The words and pauses didn't feel as laboured and the script made a whole lot more sense.
I was used to the pauses (there were a lot of them) in my original interpretation and Serge made me aware that the pauses no longer worked in this new reading of the monologue. This was probably the most challenging aspect of the whole process. I had to re-train my brain to not pause where it naturally wanted to. This took the longest to rehearse, creating new beats and an entirely new rhythm, but it worked overall and the delivery and motivation became less confusing not only for me but I'm sure to the audience also!

Death in Bowengabbie.

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I decided that I not only needed some culture but also that I may need to see a monologue style performance before I attempt my own. Death in Bowengabbie (written by Caleb Lewis) was playing at the Blue Room and this version was performed as a one man show performed by Bryce Youngman. He was fantastic, his ability to snap in and out of different characters, his commitment to the moment and the skill he possessed in being able to create elements like dramatic tension, rhythm, mood etc all combined to make a wonderful show. Bryce was extremely charismatic and engaging and I think that was the main thing I took from this performance and something I'd like to put into my own work. I could not take my eyes off him, every subtle movement, gesture, sound he made, it made me quite aware of just how much you own a story if you're the actor performing. All eyes are on you, the entire time, there's no where else to look, and there's nothing else to look at. It really opened my eyes to the fact that you have to take the audience on a journey, and they will go with you if you engage with them and give them no other option than to become absorbed in your performance and almost lose themselves within it.

Internalising and Externalising Workshop.

There's an ant in your mouth ... You're a snake drinking milk ... You look up at the lights and you're stunned ... You urinate and it smells like violets (or violence as I heard) You're an egg floating ... You dance with your own shadow ... Your legs collapse and gravity pulls you down ... Your pelvis is full of gold and you loose some with every step you take ... There are stairs everywhere and you begin to climb ...
This workshop began with some vocal warm-ups, tongue twisters and vocal exercises based on the reading of the Jabberwocky. This was good fun and I found it helped with projection and articulation. This workshop appeared to be about working on our vocals and diction and it was also focused on how to take something internal and represent it externally.
This aspect of the workshop was quite unusual in comparison to the things we had been doing, it had also been a couple of weeks since we had done any physical work so maybe that's why it felt unusual. It took me awhile to get into it. Serge explained the task but I still didn't grasp what we were supposed to be doing. When Serge began to read out the "internal direction" I found myself looking around wondering if we were supposed to be acting them out of merely engaging intellectually. I soon found out (from the people who seemed to have a better understanding of the exercise than I did) that we were supposed to be acting out each internal direction based on our own instinct and understanding of the subject matter. Once we ran through all the phrases a couple of times I began to block out the others in the room and just visualise and imagine each action and emotion. I remember after we did the task we sat around discussing it and one person said that they found it quite emotional at times. I can definitely relate, yet I still have no clue as to why it became so emotional as certain points. There's a part of me that thinks perhaps it was to do with loneliness. Some of the actions and visualisations can become so real and I don't know about others but each action and feeling I had made me aware that I was in my own world. No one else would ever envision or interpret the same visions or interpretations I have. It's that feeling of creating your own reality and your own world. I found that this worked particularly well when we could go through the phrases in our own time. Linger on one a little longer than the other. I also liked the way you could go so far into a story/visualisation only to pull yourself out so quickly and be in an entirely different world altogether.
Great exercise, I had never done it before. I can see why we did it when we did. For me it helped to create a reality for my character in the monologue. It helped to create a whole environment and surrounding for my character and from that I found it helped a great deal with the physicalisation for the monologue.

Space always precedes action...especially on stage...

Monologue Performance.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock
Photo Credit: Thinkstock

I think my audition monologue turned out alright in the end, but I think had it been an actual audition for something, let's just say I don't think I would have 'gotten the part'. I felt really good the day before and on the morning but I think I was slightly put off and not 'in the zone' because I'd been watching other people perform theirs for the hours leading up to it being my turn. It was great watching everyone perform, but I don't think it helped my headspace.always difficult...but I thought you were still focused I understand that being an actor is about being able to snap in and out of characters etc but I don't think I'm at that point yet. I think it would have been better if I had left the room before hand and just done a few spinal curls or something. I will do this next year!! When I got up to perform I just didn't feel connected with what I was doing and I was quite distracted. In saying that it did comfort me knowing that everyone else was in exactly the same boat. That connection did come about halfway through and I eased into the performance more. Then I think I got a little too comfortable and ended up tripping over the word remember ... Remembleh ... All well, I guess that happens, I don't think it affected the overall performance too much purely because I didn't let the slip distract me and I just kept going. A director I used to work with used to say "Generally speaking, the audience don't know the script nor have they seen how the show is supposed to go, so when you screw up they will only know if you show it."
I actually really enjoyed the performance, which surprised me a little. I didn't think I would, I thought I'd be incredibly nervous and anxious about forgetting my lines, I guess I was in the beginning but once I started and got into character it all felt quite natural. I've learnt a lot from the experience, mainly about beats and delivery which are two things I've always found quite challenging. The audition monologues have also improved my confidence and taught me that I am capable of more than I give myself credit for.

This is the End.

This has been a fantastic unit, I have loved working with our amazing workshop group, Serge and Tim. I've just felt so inspired and lucky every Tuesday of this semester, being surrounded by such talented and open people. I will really miss this unit, I can only hope that most people will be doing AP2 next semester. Let the good times roll.
Thanks Tim and Serge.

A genuinely reflective journal...perhaps more comments on material outside the unit would have been beneficial...however D+