Guten tag!
Esslin and I just spent a summer together - what a babe.
Esslin and I just spent a summer together - what a babe.

My name is Anthony K J Smith and for the rest of this semester this is going to be the intimate space with which I shall share with you all of my reflections on EGL226 Acting & Production I. But first! I thought I would write a little about myself to demystify our relationship and so that these hollow (how existential), words properly carry the full weight of my mind. So let us undergo formalities! (This is probably the section you shouldn't be marking, Serge, unless it's actually good.) It's made me laugh!!

This is my third year of university, I am studying a double degree in Theatre & Drama and Philosophy, with minors in Literature, Gender Studies, and I am possibly thinking of adding on a minor in Australian Indigenous Studies for next year. I work as a barista (that means I make coffee), I run a book club, I am the current president of Murdoch Theatre Company, I do peer mentoring for social sciences and I am trying to learn German (Ich spreche deutsch nur ein bisschen). I aspire to be an academic. My mind is drawn to academic theory and grand philosophical musings, and my heart is drawn to the stage. I still barely know what theatre is, despite acting in my high school days, and directing and stage managing numerous times, as well as writing a few flash dramas and plays. So I am trying to figure that out (like every other practitioner), so please bear with me. I am in love with Albert Camus. I am a vegetarian. My favourite plays would have to be Camus's Caligula (because damn, who doesn't like a historical emperor whose madness is converted into a philosophical stance?), Ionesco's Rhinoceros (Because I think we can all relate to rhinos), and probably Andrew Bovell's Speaking in Tongues (This play is beautiful). I like long walks on the beach, espressos and your mum. Also I kant stand philosophy jokes, so please don't try them on me, I think it is rude to treat someone else as a means to your end. (Brownie points if you thought of the categorical/practical imperative and not of a bum).
Albert Camus - You're a babe. <3
Albert Camus - You're a babe. <3
Anyway this unit is going to be a good opportunity to explore whether or not I can act. I am planning to do either Shakespeare or AP2 next semester (or maybe both), and I would not mind trying to act, since I have been mostly behind the scene in my time at Murdoch. I feel like I have watched other people act enough and matured a lot myself that maybe I can muster up some skill, or at least have fun doing so. The theatre is never going to be something profitable or fame-worthy for me - It is a place where political and ethical ideas can be played out, where ideas can be formed and challenged and where literature and philosophy are played out in real time, with physical lived bodies. How grande! Nonetheless I hope this unit can challenge me and if it does not unlock my acting ability (if it exists), then I hope it can at least improve my writing and directing skills. After all, if you are going to write plays, you should know actors limitations, and if you are going to direct plays, you should know how best to piss off actors.

Also - if you weren't sure already. God is Dead.

Week One - The Actor's Space. Ft. The Five Senses.

So according to the unit guide (wait, how meta is this wiki-space-journal?), our first week's praxis was on 'Physical and vocal warm-up; ensemble building; space and stage presence', however I think we covered the lattermost, and I am under the impression that we will be delving into the other two next week - or I know we will at least be covering vocal warm-up stuff since we have to print out a sheet of warm-ups. Anyway we explored a series of little workshops where we moved around the room, but I won't go into detail about them.

The interesting thing about these workshops is they made me realise how important the actors space is. For so long I have been sitting up in the auditorium barking orders at actors like they are little ants - it is so weird to be walking around like them now. But a good weird. It was also very interesting to be deprived of my senses, and lead around the workshop space, which is a space which I am very familiar with, and yet with my eyes closed and my senses challenged it felt like an entirely different space. The actor is the vessel through which the entirety of meaning and expression is conveyed through, and she/he can only move his body so far, around other objects, and without clashing with anything else. Getting used to using ones peripherals becomes incredibly challenging, but a skill that must be honed, for when set, lighting and other actors are in place it can be a little disorienting, and you must know the space like you know the back of your hand (Or some other equally knowable metaphor). It's so challenging because these are things I was never thinking about as a writer or a director.

The sense of energy shared with the other actors was important, and as we had to all slow down to a pause and start walking together, we could really feel each other's energy somehow - whether it's some otherworldly magic or probably more likely just our combined sensory perceptions - sound and sight in particular. Getting a feel for that kind of 'magic-energy' (now the coined term), is necessary as it allows you to get a sense of cues and timing, and a lot of acting tends to be all about the right cues and timing. Beginning to get a feel of the space, both with senses-deprived, with others moving about the space and with each other is a great place to start.

I will return to these thoughts in a few weeks, I am sure.

Here is a picture of some random dance company's performance. Dance is a pretty good example as they are basically ALL about the space. But so is theatre, I suppose.
Here is a picture of some random dance company's performance. Dance is a pretty good example as they are basically ALL about the space. But so is theatre, I suppose.

In the mean time, I have taken it upon myself to look at one of the Theatre Visionaries briefly per entry, and perhaps return to them in later entries. Today we will be looking at Anne Bogart. For the moment you must excuse me as I am too poor to purchase the acting books yet, so my information must come from the internet.

Anne Bogart [1951 - Present]
"See this? The distance between my finger and thumb? Yeah. That's your talent."

She is a libra. Cool. She is apparently very big in the American theatrical scene, and has worked with Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki (who I will investigate!), quite closely.

"Every time I approach a new production I pose the questions I was encouraged to ask at NYU: What is a play? How does it function in society? What is acting? What does it mean 'to act'? What is a rehearsal? What is an audience? The questions are anthropological and sociological. Performance studies initiated an appetite for theoretical inquiry that continues to infect all my waking hours." (Source)

Apparently she is "the most important acting and directing theorist since Stanislavski and Brecht" because she has "brought her unconventional and often controversial methods into use as she tries to release American Theatre from its slavish devotion to realism" (Sources) - I like this chick already!

She has created her own system of creating theatre called 'Viewpoints' - Which incorporates theories of dance, painting, and sculpture, vaudeville and Asian theatre. How intriguing! Viewpoints is also concerned with time and space on stage (something we looked at today), as well as flexibility, articulation, and strength in movement.

With her rejection of the stanislavski-dominated theatre scene, I will likely return to Anne Bogart in some future weeks.

Great detailed work...comprehensive and precise...well done

Week Two - Russian Men and Why Breathing is Important.

Topic: Realism/Naturalism.
Praxis: 'Physical and vocal warm-up.'
"Hey babe, am I real enough for you?"
"Hey babe, am I real enough for you?"

So today I will start with our theatre visionary (since it's relevant to the week), this guy --->

So this week we jumped right into everyone's drama hero: Stan da Man. Honestly. Not my favourite dramatist. I was on Chekhov's side - the Cherry Orchard is a comedy! But I guess we're not here to discuss that, or my playwright bias. Stanislavski is certainly important though, and although he is not responsible for naturalism, he certainly was very influenced by it and was perhaps more directly responsible for realism. So the fourth wall is created, and we expect the audience to simply be observers. My interpretation of Stan's Method (in a contemporary sense), is as follows: By beginning with a state of relaxation, an actor can use a variety of techniques during rehearsal times to engage with their character by comparing the character's emotional journey to one they've experienced themselves, and through this, exploring how the most 'real' expression of the body can be externalised (via emotional recall). Once an apt externalisation is found, the actor must then memorise that externalisation and be able to use it on stage, but without the internal emotions attached. This allows the actor to be natural and convincing. By also plotting out the characters superobjectives (which are not psychological but are just things that happen in the script), the actor is also able to figure out how they may externalise point A to point B, and also map out all parts in between with 'beats'. The psychological, however, does play into it, and the actor must figure out what they are doing (whether it's an action, dialogue or otherwise), why they are doing that, and then finally how they will do that. And the transition from psychological to externalisation is paramount. When one is performing on the night, it is not necessary to be internalising the psychological process of the character, but rather to be performing what has been rehearsed from the psychological, and therefore what is physicalised and already thought through.

As a side note, I often think that actors forget the difference between rehearsal and performance, and try to psycho-analyse their character while performing. I often find the intense psychoanalysis of a character to be a bit too intense and somewhat unnecessary in contemporary theatre. We KNOW we are in a theatre. We know it is all fake ARE YOU SURE...I'M NOT CONVINCED - why do we insist on being too real? Realism is a falsity in itself. Every second of the performance we are an actor playing a character, not a character played by an actor. AGAIN NOT CONVINCED..Six Characters in Search of an Author???
Will read and reflect.
But then I do prefer Brecht, and I've usually had the luxury of being a director, playwright or stage manager. At any rate, I find this quote from Kierkegaard to be interesting, and it always reminds me of the danger of a complacent audience/one that has been enamoured by the theatrical illusion - which I would argue that naturalism/realism tends to encourage.

"In a theater, it happened that a fire started offstage. The clown came out to tell the audience. They thought it was a joke and applauded. He told them again, and they become still more hilarious. This is the way, I suppose, that the world will be destroyed - amid the universal hilarity of wits and wags who think it is all a joke." - Victor Eremita (Søren Kierkegaard), Either/Or.
/endsidenote There two ontologies at play here...I think that's what Kierkegaard was getting at...
Hmm yes Serge, I think you're right. Kierkegaard is always a bit tricky and there's never really one side to what he's saying...

In terms of the workshop process, we worked on achieving Stan's 'relaxation' state, with a series of warm-ups we will practice in our own time and repeat in future workshops, and be able to do ourselves within fifteen minutes or so. This will prepare us for our later assessments. I have always stressed that preparing the voice is very important - I did about 4 years of singing lessons when I was a young adolescent, I used to have this angelic voice before I hit puberty. I still retain a decent voice, but certainly not of angelic quality. At any rate, I always did a lot of voice warm-ups and have since developed a pretty strong projection as a result. I often find a lot of actors do not prepare their voices. These series of warm-ups added some more to my repertoire and will certainly assist me as an actor and a director in the future. We went over some ensemble-building workshops as well, particularly the movement one, which we apparently weren't as good as last week - I felt the space to feel a little more natural, but that's just me. In particular, Serge stressed that one cannot expect to perform the same every night, and that instead a different level of performance must be aimed. I found this of particular interest as recently with a performance I directed, my actors did superb on the first night but dropped a bit on the second, and I have found this issue previously. I think - perhaps if I had enstated more of an emphasis on relaxation for the call time, it would have worked better? An object workshop had us try and make believe that the objects we were interacting with were not what they actually were - this was perplexing, but certainly begins the process of imagination required for an actor. How am I to rehearse and act as someone else if I cannot pretend that a candlestick is a bottle of wine? I must reclaim my imagination and creativity, whilst I try and work on my vocal, breathing and physical warm-ups.

I hope we didn't look this cool today.
I hope we didn't look this cool today.

In particular focussing on your breathing is just so important. I used to do quite a bit of yoga (I want to return to it!), and breathing was always the focus on that. How are you supposed to pretend to be someone else if you cannot find your own centre-space? Breath is important to all physical endeavours - sport, dance, jogging, lifting, and acting is a very physical thing as well. It's also important for the voice, whether it's just for talking, whether in an everyday situation, performing public speech, singing, playing some instruments and of course, acting. Most of all, it is important for remaining calm, and whether that means reaching a relaxed, balanced state in which you can access your character, or calming yourself before you walk onstage, developing your breathing is paramount. Okay Stan, maybe I have some more respect for you... until next week with our lovely Brecht.

Until next week, stay phresh! phresh?...just means you're extra crispy! Really...
You have a fine analytical mind...and are not afraid to risk enquiry...looking forward to seeing you combine theory and practice.

Response - Hey Serge I am feeling a bit off this week so I will attempt to re-look at some of your responses another week. I have Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author - Perhaps I should get around to reading it. (Might I recommend any classmates to purchase it, as well, as it is only 2 dollars or so on the book depository - FREE SHIPPING too!)

Week 3 - Kiss My Brechtian Hands.

Now I should sit down and discuss Brecht as my theorist - but I am quite busy this week and so I will likely rush this entry. I hope I do not fall behind on my commitment to discuss theorists... it is a bit of a large task though, and I am overloading among many other commitments, so I probably shouldn't push myself. I think I will probably only end up reviewing some of the main theorists... and maybe rather sporadically. I will return to these thoughts later!

We left our warm-ups for a week to move back to an emphasis on our ensemble training. We did a wicked movement-oriented exercise in which as a group we modified our collective pace, and ended up stomping - I almost felt like we should have been hailing Hitler, and that sentiment was shared by others afterwards. Not because we're anti-semites, but because the collective pace in the room reminds one of that kind of image, and as actors we tend towards the grotesque. Hah! The exercise in which we felt our way through our house was challenging, I found it difficult to react to others, and based on the instructions of the exercise I tried not to deviate from my spoken lines too much. Working around each other was challenging, but I think we worked really well.

I totally understand that chick, I would be pretty upset to lose him. I mean, damn, look at him. Lucky terrorists though.
I totally understand that chick, I would be pretty upset to lose him. I mean, damn, look at him. Lucky terrorists though.
The highlight of the workshop though, was definitely the three different interpretations of Kiss My Hands, by Howard Barker. My group went for a Brechtian spin, as we only had one physical script between us and we wanted to actively pass the script between each other - it's difficult to be over-dramatic and act well when you're sharing one script between seven people, so we turned the script into a prop in some sense. However when it came to performance we borrowed another group's script so we ended up having two scripts between us. Since there were seven of us and six characters, one of us read stage directions, which worked really well. I think in comparison to the others, which emphasised on really playing with the emotional strength of the script, and the intensity of the situation, we conveyed a different kind of meaning with the dialogue. I'm not sure how effective it was, but I'm sure it was a good contrast. The other two groups had some really talented actors though, in particular this one red-headed girl who played the Husband was really powerful - I was impressed. I must learn her name. (Feel free to comment if it is you!) I thought it worked very well - simple and totally effective/affective

I think one of the most important things that Tim pointed out was the way a particular line could be read in Kiss My Hands, that if you stressed a particular word over another, it completely changed the meaning in the play. It is difficult to find the best way to stress different parts of a sentence, but it can completely change the meaning of the dialogue.

We were also asked to form our groups for our dialogues by next week, I have already organised to work with Alex Wallish - as we know each other (I'm her favourite Barista - I hope), but we've never worked together before. We are doing Patrick Marber's Closer. I am looking forward to working on that and will report our progress in this journal.
Interesting choice of script...not what I thought you would choose, so looking forward to seeing what you and Alex will do with it...
Until next week, stay giddy! giddy's good!!

Week 4 - Yes/No/Maybe So.

This week had us looking at Artaud and the Theatre of Cruelty. The surrealist movement has always interested me, and so does Artaud's theories. I really want to purchase The Theatre and Its Double and read it. Jet/Spurt of Blood is one of my favourite scripts, I love the way it challenges stage directions - reminds me of Sarah Kane's Cleansed when there's a stage direction like 'the rats carry Carl's feet away' (his feet were cut off), or in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, 'exit, pursued by bear'. It always interests me the way a director might try to interpret these stage directions, and then how this meaning is conveyed to the audience - some stage directions are very necessary, others are not so. Last week in a directing lecture/workshop by Scott McArdle, he told us to essentially disregard all stage directions. I disagree, but then I place a lot of value on the playwright (for legal reasons and for matters of principality - If someone directed one of my scripts I would like them to stay loyal to it), and try to respect him/her as much as possible. I try to figure out why the playwright might write the stage direction in and how that might translate onto stage. Despite my respect for the playwright sometimes their stage directions are a bit difficult to follow, or are contingent on a particular set-up or venue. This understanding of stage directions feeds heavily into the development of my dialogue piece, which I will discuss later.

"Yes, you cheated on me." "No, it was only a handjob, that doesn't count, right?"
"Yes, you cheated on me." "No, it was only a handjob, that doesn't count, right?"
During the workshop we again worked on some of our warm-up exercises, which we will have to practice ourselves next workshop. We did a workshop exercise in which we had to play either the cheater or the cheated on in a relationship. The cheated on could only say 'yes', and knows that the other has cheated on him/her, and is trying to get them to admit it. The cheater can only say 'no', and is trying to convince the cheated on that they did not cheat on him/her. This exercise was amazing as it freed us from having to rely on language and we were able to convincingly act out so many different scenarios and relationship dynamics. I got to participate in this exercise twice, the first time as the cheated-on, with Jordan. I played a very hurt and resigned character, and it was quite emotional as it almost seemed like despite cheating on me, he was confessing his love to me, and then I walked out on him. The second time I played the cheater, and I was very much in denial, a bit sarcastic, but then eventually I actually said 'yes', but then seemed unsure about it, and was a bit like 'yes... no... yes?'. Some class mates responded after and lamented that it seemed like I was possibly coming out of the closet and that I had cheated on her with a man. I was sort of going for the situation in the captioned image, haha. Still, the exercise was brilliant, and I think everyone really got a lot out of it. We stripped ourselves of almost all language and yet all the language was there in our voice, timing, gestures, space and use of body. Working out how to apply this to our dialogues will be interesting - perhaps I will try going through the dialogue only using one word each, and trying to get across all the physicality and emotion.

In terms of the dialogue, I have been using this scene as assistance for understanding how the script can be played out. This is the only video I can find on youtube of the scene we are doing, and although it's a movie version and only about half of our script excerpt, it gives us some direction to go. We had a rehearsal yesterday and although originally we were deciding to challenge the naturalism of the script by performing it in the audience, we have now decided to do it on stage. We will be incorporating some minor props, particularly the food as it will be less effective if we mime it, and it will also be funny if Alex is actually talking while her mouth is full, as that is the kind of character she is playing. We really want to amp up the awkwardness of the scene - the two characters inexplicably put into this situation. For my character, he is sort of removed from his everyday introverted routine, and for her, it is a familiarly weird situation, although he is not the kind of guy she would normally talk to. But there is a kind of deep sense of connection and attraction between the two characters that they both slowly realise. Letting that connection develop slowly whilst playing up the awkwardness is the challenge. I like the dialogue though, I just need to learn my lines and then work on it further.

Until next week, following the study break, stay sassy!

Week 5 - Study Break

Roughly me and my friends studying.
Roughly me and my friends studying.

Week 6 - Tereus vs. Procne - A Kissing Workshop.

Well I have no idea what is even happening anymore. I am reaching that point in the semester where I need to re-establish control over my study, and prepare for the next round of assignments. Study breaks throw me off! Nonetheless, I will do my best to piece together this week's workshop and what it taught me, and reflect on Alex and I's progression with 'Closer'.

So the proper workshop began with us being paired off with someone we haven't worked with before. We then had to practice different types of greetings - first a wave, then a handshake, then a hug, then a kiss on the cheek, then a sort-of European variety of kiss on the cheek, and then an eskimo kiss. The idea was that as actors we would be called upon to perform different actions in plays as our character, and they may not be things that we are initially used to or necessarily comfortable with. The purpose of this workshop then, was to practice them in different ways and to get over the barrier of not necessarily being comfortable with it (for example, I find kissing one's cheek very strange, it's something I do not do, not even with family, even if they try to with me). This worked well as we were encouraged to be with people who we do not know.

Moving on from the simple greetings, it turned into a kind of reactionary situation, in which one of the pair was angry at the other, and would turn around, look at the other, forgive them, and then do one of the greetings we had done before. Some people found this difficult, as one girl expressed that she would not touch someone initially if she was angry with them. Tim pointed out that as actors we often have to do things that we as a person would not be, so we then have to find a way to do it. This can be difficult, as we may not find the psychological process of the character to be natural, realistic or otherwise. She then asked for some context to the situation.

So Serge gave us some context. Enter the Greek myth of Philomela, Tereus and Procne.

In one variation of the tale, Procne kills her and Tereus's child, cooks it up and feeds it to Tereus when he gets home. Afterwards, she brings out the child's head to show him what he just ate. Classic!
In one variation of the tale, Procne kills her and Tereus's child, cooks it up and feeds it to Tereus when he gets home. Afterwards, she brings out the child's head to show him what he just ate. Classic!

Synopsis: Philomela and Procne are sisters, and are BFFs as well. Tereus marries Procne, and takes her away from her sister. Procne misses her sister and does not really like Tereus, so she asks him if she can visit. He's all like 'okay, I'll go get her'. So he does. Anyway, on the way back he rapes her and cuts her tongue out. Somehow Procne knows about this, so when Tereus returns she, despite this, decides to accept Tereus since she can't exactly love a sister without a tongue. (I mean, how could they bitch about Tereus? Through sign-language? Ew!) We then had to play out a scene as though one of us was Tereus, and the other Procne, and perform a 'political' kiss in which Procne 'accepts' Tereus. Everyone was more than up to the task! At first I was with a guy, which was okay. To be honest I found him difficult to connect with, his acting style is very different to mine and whilst everyone around us had a certain 'intensity', I found ours very lacking (no offense). He played Procne and I played Tereus, and perhaps it was a gender thing, or maybe it really was just us lacking any kind of acting chemistry, but it just felt flat. I don't think it was a gender thing though, because I saw another male-male group do really well. Nonetheless, when Serge asked us for feedback the first time around, my partner expressed that he found it easier to be a feminine character as I am quite tall, when Serge asked me for feedback I could not really say much as I did not get much out of the exercise. The chemistry just felt very... unsubtle. It's difficult to explain. Perhaps he had some nervousness due to our genders? I am homosexual, so it doesn't really bother me, but he might have had some apprehensions about kissing a man. I asked him beforehand if he was okay with it. Oh well.

This is roughly what we all looked like.
This is roughly what we all looked like.

We then all swapped partners, and I got to work with someone a lot more intense. This was a girl, and maybe this made it easier given the scene's context. We both waited a long while before I moved towards each other, we stared one another down. I played this kind of 'rigid, powerful yet guilty' character and she had this mix of anger, resilience and sorrow. I did not move until she put her hands out towards me, and when I moved over towards her, I took her wrists, and she took mine. We stared at one another intensely for a while, before moving in for a kiss. She was shaking the whole time - and I could tell it was her being in character (both because of the way it felt, and because afterwards she immediately snapped out of it). Afterwards, I took her in an embrace, and she sobbed. It was very intense. We then broke away from each other, and broke out of character, making gangster-gestures towards one another. It was fun.
The workshop was really difficult, but worthwhile, since we were given such a complicated backstory and we had to transform it into a very rough chemistry between ourselves and another person. When I finished in both groups, I looked around to see others, and the variations and intensities were so diverse and amazing. Everyone was very vulnerable, but the amount of trust we all had in each other, built up over the weeks, really helped, and it did not seem like anyone felt out of place. Apparently Serge's other class did not really do the kissing, and it was something optional, perhaps we were all ready for it.

During the study break, Alex and I met up and rehearsed. The scene is progressing well, I think we are beginning to understand the level of awkward chemistry required for the two characters. I definitely need to rehearse my lines more. We are meeting up after next week's class and practicing with some food as props. I am bringing the sandwich and apple. Yay!

We were also asked to start thinking about a monologue for later in the semester. I was thinking of doing the Equus one on the homepage, or possibly a monologue from the end of Albert Camus's Caligula. That would be hot.

Until next week, stay sharp!
Extremely comprehensive ... both theoretical and reflective..well done

Week 7 + 8 - Time To Get a Little Bit 'Closer'.

'Close' enough - Get it?
'Close' enough - Get it?
There is not a whole lot to report on for these two weeks, since workshop time has been spent mostly on rehearsing our dialogues. Alex and I finally know our lines and everything, and we've been working on our chemistry. I think we are pretty confident to perform on Tuesday. We are using some minor props that are pretty vital to the scene and extremely easy to get - a bag of mine, a sandwich, and two takeaway coffees (we could get cups... but we'll get real coffee, we're both caffeine-fiends). I will definitely reflect on the dialogue more in-depth once we have performed it. During week 7 Serge had us come in one at a time in our dialogue groups and perform so that he could give feedback. For us, it was to enhance the awkward moments and play up the flirtatious nature of it. We've also started realising more of the subtext in the script. For example, Dan is initially reminded of his mother as Alice asks if his mother cut the crust off of his bread when he was a child, so it makes sense later in the script when he begins talking about her death. This is also true as she was a smoker, and the fact that Alice is a smoker comes up several times. I think since Dan is a journalist writing for obituaries, he's drawn to Alice in a whole kind of different way - Firstly, because she is so different to his monotonous everyday life, and secondly because he 'saves' her, so it's a kind of 'live' story that he's not used to. Normally he writes about dead people, but here he is, an ordinary man saving another person, and a woman, a woman who is sexually and romantically interesting. Perhaps he will be invigorated to write passionately, to have a 'voice', like he says that he does not. For me, beginning with the awkwardness and the aftermath of an 'emergency' situation, to reaching that point where Alice says 'yes, tell me what it is like in your job', is the important character arch.

Other than working on the dialogue I have finally decided to do Peter Shaffer's Equus (The monologue on the homepage). I have read through it several times and still liked it, and I got the whole play out of the library and read it so I could understand the context. There's some scenes I will have to read again, since it is quite a complicated play. Overall, Alan will be a very interesting character to play, he's a fucked-up (excuse my English), child with Freudian-esque and religious issues who blinded six horses out of some kind of rage. As much as I would love to do Caligula, I don't think I can do it justice yet. I will start rehearsing for this once the dialogue is over.

Until next week, stay ludicrous!

Week 9 - Performance Time. ft. Alex.

Where were you?!
Where were you?!
So Alex and I made sure to meet up plenty and go over our lines. We were all prepped. She was bringing the wrapped up bun, I was bringing my messenger bag and we both brought coffee cups. We were ready! I made sure that we did some vocal warm-ups before performance, and Serge spent some time going over the script with us, since he felt like he had not worked with me in particular enough. The main things he got us to do was to make sure to make the pauses really big with the script and not rush it, and to also put emphasis on particular lines with my character. Overall this preparation certainly made our performance more effective. Alex and I were pretty confident, and I think overall we did well. We didn't stumble or stuff-up over any lines, everything we had rehearsed worked... it was just so... different when we performed it live. When we rehearsed it together there was this more casual air of awkwardness between our characters. In front of an audience... it was difficult to remain natural. There was such a heavy feeling in the room... perhaps this was an oversight for the two of us. I feel like in some ways there needed to be more of an atmosphere of sound, particularly since the script is set in a hospital waiting room. Without that atmosphere, it felt as though we could have been anywhere else. This is possibly a good thing. One of the other groups who did 'Closer' attempted to compensate for this, they made the audience sit in a square on the stage and they performed on one corner of all the chairs, so that it did feel like more of a waiting room. Still, I suppose the emphasis was on our acting and interpretation of the script. I was surprisingly nervous, but I think it was because the other groups were SO good and I was worried that we would not match up to them. This kind of worked though, because my character was supposed to be nervous anyway. I got some decent feedback from peers, Scott McArdle said that I played a convincing straight and awkward man. I guess that was my aim. I feel like Alex and I could have potentially re-imagined the way we blocked the scene a little, in comparison to some other groups, it felt a little boring and simple, but maybe that was what fit the script. I thought its simplicity was its strength...

In reflection, working with Alex was great. Group work can sometimes be a pain in the ass, but I felt like we worked really well together. Communicated enough, did not ruin each other's time tables to rehearse, compromised, talked the script over and our interpretations, used our time efficiently, prepared enough, etc etc. We made a great team and I enjoyed that a lot. I feel like I learnt a lot from the dialogue task, particularly in terms of learning lines, interpreting subtext, reinvigorating what it's like to be on stage again, and just generally enjoying it. It was an enjoyable script, and I could easily go perform it again because I actually liked doing it. So even if I don't get the best mark, because I'm honestly not a great actor or anything, I certainly enjoyed it a lot and learnt a lot from it, so that counts for more than a mark could give. In conclusion: Would work with Alex again, Closer was a good script, I learnt a lot.

If I didn't mention already, the other groups did fantastic! The 'Pulp Fiction' one was superb, the other groups doing 'Closer' did a really good job, ugh, I can't even remember a lot of them but there was some really talented acting. I think Serge was certainly correct when he mentioned the projection thing - this is something that always irks me as a director. There are a lot of talented actors out there but some just have no projection skills. I'm lucky, on the other hand, 4-5 years of private singing lessons as a child and highschool drama + music has instilled in me a very projected vocal range. I guess I take that for granted sometimes. However putting that aside I thought the imagination (the cardboard cut-outs by the Bitter Cane group was very interesting), and interpretations of some of my classmates, combined with their execution of the script made for some highly enjoyable performances. The monologues are certainly going to be interesting!

In the mean time I best start revising for the lighting & sound quiz!

Week 10 - Break of Study

Efficient studying!
Efficient studying!

Week 11 - Lighting, Sound and Tests, Oh My!

Before I talk about this week, I will just quickly note that I got a mark back for my dialogue during the study break and I was very pleased with it! Especially since acting is not my strong point. I would have appreciated a little more specific feedback, but I feel like I probably know what I need to work on - nonverbals.

-Insert Funny Stuff Here-
-Insert Funny Stuff Here-
The last three lectures (week 8, 9 and 11), have been dedicated to lighting and sound stuff. Tim Brain has been giving these lectures and they have been really informative. I am little bit naughty - I did a production & design class in year 10 at my highschool and I did music all through highschool and a music cert II in year 12, so I should really know a lot of lighting and sound stuff. But honestly, I forgot 90% of it, although it comes back to me here and there and I feel like I relearn it quicker. I am just not very good at the more 'practical' side of theatre. But I felt like I comfortably learnt about 95% of what Tim taught us. I know the main two types of lights, the basic limits of a lighting rig, I already knew about how patching and dimmers worked in a basic sense, I learnt some new things here and there, so overall it was very useful and practical. I felt like I performed competently in the test, it was not too difficult. I know I got at least one question wrong after talking about the test with others afterwards, but it was only worth one point. I should have gotten most other things correct. Hopefully easy marks!

In the mean time, as a writer, director and theatre practitioner, going over the basics of lighting and sound has given me a slightly more practical view of how they work, and how they can come together to put on a show. Perhaps now I can discuss more competently and confidently with a lighting designer when I am a director, and tell them what I would like. I have always respected the backstage work that people do. It would be nice to do a bit more lighting and sound design, but I am not really interested in rigging, I have done it in the past (year 10), and I really hated it. I am not very good at moving things or doing heavy work. That is not to say that I am below it or anything, I just actually struggle in my mind to make it physically happen. I am pragmatic in some ways, but often a bit too philosophic and easily-distracted in a head-in-the-clouds kind of way. I have no idea where to put things and do things, and my highschool drama teacher would frequently shout if I did not do things right - something which discourages me thoroughly still to this day. When I first came to university I was initially quite scared of directors. I think once you experience an emotionally blackmailing director, it haunts you indefinitely. However Tim was very lovely and when we rigged a light in class today I actually quite enjoyed it. Perhaps I will change my mind and just help with rigging some time... maybe.

Anyway! Next on the list for this unit (and essentially all that is left other than keeping up with this journal), is our monologues! I will start learning the monologue over the course of the week. I am glad I have already picked mine, as some others are struggling to find one. Nonetheless we have to have one picked by next class! A few people have expressed that they want to do something drastically different to their dialogue, which is a good idea I think. It is important to expose yourself to different styles. My dialogue was quite naturalistic. The character of Alan for Equus is very different, although the monologue will probably come across as somewhat naturalistic, I am not so worried about the style, more just the way I act. The only thing the two plays have in common is that they're both British - strange that I keep picking British stuff, hah!

Until next week, adios amigos!

Great journal Ant...I would normally meet everyone the week after the dialogue presentations and give feed back I will reflect on the pieces in class next week, and offer direction[s] as we work on the monologues. Looking forward to seeing what you do with "Equus".

Week 12 + 13 - Lazily Combining Two Weeks Into One Entry to Deal With My Monologue and Not Really Even Actually Coming Up With a Title Either and Kind of Not Writing Much Either.

Heyo. So I'm at another busy point in the semester with my other units so I have been a bit lazy with this journal, hence combining the two weeks into one entry (although I have no excuse for the horrendous entry name).

So last week Serge and Tim wanted us to work on physical embodiment and externalising internal feelings, and also on voice projection and annunciation. Fair points, I think a lot of the dialogues certainly lacked projection. The exercise we did on the ground with externalising feelings was quite strange, but enjoyable. I found it a bit difficult to think of all the different descriptions off the top of my head though, I much preferred it when Serge was calling them out. I was a little disappointed that we didn't work on monologues that week, but I suppose it wasn't as necessary, and we had time to work on them outside of class.

I have finally pretty much learnt my Equus monologue, there's a few bits in the speech that I sometimes stuff up, but I know the gist of it. Serge and Tim gave some good feedback today, mostly suggesting that I needed to play up the eroticism of it and play up the play's criticism of psychiatry and naturalised sexuality.

Will write more next week after the performance!

Until then, stay alive!

Week 14 - The Finale: Equus.

So it's finally that time. My last journal entry. How sad! Oh well.

Overall I was really satisfied with my monologue.I put a lot of work into it and I think it showed. Having read the play earlier in the semester I had been able to process the intellectual and character development side of the play, and use that in my contextual understanding of the monologue. I also rehearsed in a number of ways; I recorded myself speaking the monologue to play it in the car, I video-recorded myself speaking and performing the monologue to watch myself and critique my performance, I performed in front of friends for feedback, and I also just simply rehearsed it a lot. Working with Serge on Monday, the day before the performance was really useful. He helped me block it out more efficiently and work out where I should place the emphasis in the delivery of particular lines. Along with this he also helped me pinpoint the emotional journey of the monologue, although I had already done a decent job of breaking it up into the intellectual and script beats.

I'm feeling a little horse.
I'm feeling a little horse.
When it came to the performance of it, I really couldn't have asked for a better performance. I don't think I have ever been this satisfied with my own acting before. I just really... nailed it. It flowed, I didn't drop a line or a bit of blocking, I had good pauses, great projection, I felt like I had a powerful stage presence, I felt like I guided the audience through Alan's emotional journey. I think I could see Serge smiling at all the bits he had helped me block that I was achieving as I performed it. I was told that I made the audience uncomfortable - success! There are definitely points I could have improved on, I'm not always very proficient with my nonverbals, but I certainly feel like it was the best performance I have ever given. Like with my dialogues, I don't mind what mark I get as I couldn't have felt better about my performance, but I obviously hope I get a good mark, because I feel like I worked for it.

I ended up missing the first class of monologues, which is a shame. But I really needed to sleep in a bit longer as it had been a hectic week of final assignments and what not. What I saw of my own class, I have mixed feelings. For the most part, some of the men in my class I wasn't so impressed with; I had seen them do better in class, outside of class or in their dialogues. I felt like a few of them were a bit lazy with the assignment, and I wasn't particularly moved by some of them. Some of the better monologues, in my opinion, were by the women. I will give special mention to Alex, Sarah, Kate, Rebecca, Emily, although there were probably some other good ones I have missed in my head. Although for the most part I saw a big improvement in some people from the beginning of the semester. It will be interesting to hopefully see some of the students in my class in other performances in the future.

With this unit I really wanted to see if I can act: I certainly think I can. I think I am more intellectually stimulated when it comes to acting. I'm not much of a natural actor, I don't think. I feel like I need to understand the context and the politics of a play or a character before I can really play them well. I will continue this exploration in Acting & Production II.
I agree...your point of entry into the character is an intellectual now need to work on embodying the character have made a great start!!
Some of the highlights of the unit were the kissing workshop, working with Alex for my dialogue, my Equus monologue, and overall just getting back to acting/being on the stage rather than watching/directing it. Thank you Serge, Tim and David for all of your hard work!

Auf Wiedersehen! Lebewohl!

Totally comprehensive...HD