Week One

And so the first week of Uni began and what a fun and challenging beginning it was. The ideas that were covered in the workshop were some that I had never really taken into consideration before; and now having learnt them, I feel slightly stupid for not having thought of them before. I never really thought about awareness of space and fellow actors presence within the space, but only thought about making sure I was where I was meant to be. I also didn't really think that trust was such a big thing when it comes to performance. The activities were a good way to develop trust and awareness in the space and we challenging in their own ways.

The exercise where we had to walk around the space before stopping at the same time as each other was difficult because you have no idea when everyone else is going to stop and therefore have to focus, which could be achieving mental relaxation (which according to Paul Elsam in 'Acting Characters' is one of the nine essential skills necessary for a successful actor). Now focusing is not exactly my strong point as I find myself still having thoughts that aren't related to what I am doing. But after a while I managed to block those thoughts out and concentrate so it became less difficult and must become easier over time.

The trust exercises were also challenging but in a different way. I as the blind person the first time, found it easier because I was being led by someone who had their full vision and I had my hand on their shoulder and only had to follow. However, when it became more challenging when it came to leading a blind person, using sounds. I chose to direct using words, which seems easy, but as me and my partner found out...well wasn't as easy as thought especially when generalisations such as 'move to the right a lit bit' are made because the person who is blind does not really know how much 'a little bit is'. Out of the being physically led and audibly led, audibly led would have to be the more difficult as you have no one to 'lean on'. The second trust exercise, where we had to run at our partners and scream, was interesting. I do feel that it was about trusting the other person to stop, however I do also feel that it could possibly be about trusting that you (while running at the other person) know when to stop. I thought I knew when to stop, but it turned out I didn't and ran into my partner a bit. I admittedly was uneasy about whether my partner would stop because I hadn't actually met him before and thus hadn't had an opportunity to build that trust. But when he didn't run into me, I guess you could say that trust is there now.

Looking forward to next week and the semester ahead.

Interesting and worthwhile reflections - serge

Week Two

The focus of Week Two was realism, Stanislavski and his system as well as physical and vocal warm ups. This week also included an activity from last week; the walking around the space and stopping and starting in unison with the other members of the class. This activity went tremendously well, especially in comparison to last week. The class managed to do this faultlessly which was interesting to me for two reasons. Firstly, I would have thought it would have taken a couple of goes for everyone to get into the right mindset for the activity, I have, however, appeared to have underestimated the class in that way. Secondly, I found it interesting that we managed to get it right first off with minimal practice. Having studied Drama throughout High School, I had naturally encountered some of the vocal warm ups; whether having been told of them for private practice before exams or having put them into practice i.e. the 'chewing gum' exercise and tongue twisters. Others I had not heard about such as simply massaging the lips which is such a good way to warm up and loosen the lips. When it came to the breathing exercises we did, I encountered more difficulty. In previous times where I have been aware of breathing from my diaphragm, I have been lying down on the ground while doing a relaxation or visualisation activity. However, standing up and purely focusing on breathing, I found a bit more difficult to breath from the diaphragm and not from the chest. Yet when I mastered this and we did the 'ee, ay, ah, or, oh, oo' I did notice that I had a greater lung capacity that I thought I did.

If anyone walked into the drama workshop when we moved to the next part of the class, they would have been greeted to a rather strange site; a group of people wandering around the room talking to inanimate objects. Initially, when we were told to say the name of the object, I thought this activity would have been a breeze. Yet, when we were told to call the object by another name and really believe it was that name that we were calling it was not the 'breeze' I was expecting. I mean not only did I have to come up with another name for the object and believe that it was said object, but I had to remember what item was which. Things only got harder when we had to say a phrase to the object and remember that as well. I guess these activities crossed over with the concentration exercises we did last week. I mean you really have to concentrate to remember what you have called what and what you have said to what. Not to mention to think of something to rename the object and to be in a state of mind where you believe it.

The final thing we did in the tutorial was read through the 'Kiss My Hands' by Howard Barker. Once through without a context and again with a context. Even though I was not one of the people reading out loud, I noticed a significant difference in the way I was reading the characters in my head. After having watched the video about the refugees in Syria or where they were from, I, while acting it out in my head, was channeling the emotions of the women that we had seen in the video.

I really do hope that the things I have written do make sense.

In my own time I began reading the monologue and dialogue options and began to think about which ones I would like to do. In regards to the dialogue scenes that I have an interest in, I am leaning towards the scene from 'A Streetcar Named Desire' between Blanche and Mitch, as well as the scene from Ruby Moon between Sonny Jim and Sylvia. These two plays are both particular favorites of mine having studied them in High School and have performed segments of both plays. However, both times I have done different scenes and played different characters, so I would like to use this opportunity to try attempting different characters from the plays and vastly different scenarios than I have previously done, so I feel it is going to be hard to pick what one I really want to do. In regards to monologues I have considered the Biff monologue from Death of a Salesman; Mr Fox from Fantastic Mr Fox; Alan from Equus and; The Boy from The Witches. Yet as there is a long time before we have to select our monologues, I feel no real pressure to pick one now.

Week Three

This weeks focus was Brecht and this week I found myself gathering new knowledge on Brecht that I hadn't really known or known that well. For instance I knew that Brecht was a socialist and that his work had a political purpose behind it yet I did not take into consideration that theatrically he prioritised politics over aesthetics especially as Germany turned towards fascism. As far as things go I, as an audience member, would prefer an Epic Theatre performance over a naturalistic play as it breaks my expectations as far as performance goes, with more interaction with the audience from the actors. Excellent point!

This weeks workshop exercises included the walking around the space activity (with a slight alteration), walking around the space as if it were our house and doing a gesture that we would do in five rooms and then producing a interpretation and performance of the 'Kiss My Hands' scene. The alteration in the 'walking around the space' activity was that we had to pick up the pace and slow down the pace of the group in comparison to actually stopping all together. In comparison to previous weeks reflections on this activity, not has much changed. We all seem to continue getting better which is great to see. Looking back on my week one reflection, I see that I wrote that concentrating is not my strong point. Two weeks later and I am happy to say that this is changing. There is the one or two occasions where my focus breaks but I manage to refocus and block everything out. With the 'House' exercise we did...well that was a different story, which is odd because I thought this would have been easy! I do not know whether it is me being a perfectionist or something, but I was breaking focus as I was worrying that I got the floor plan of my house wrong when it was impairing my concentration and my believing that I was in my house doing the things I was doing and saying the things I was saying. Now it seems stupid to have let something like that bug me and ruin the exercise for me.

I found the 'Kiss My Hands' performance part of the workshop to be my favourite and easier after having re-watched the video from Syria last week to refresh my mind. In our performance, my group and I decided to use the door into the theatre part of the Drama Workshop as well as having the character of the husband positioned in the audience; which I believe has Brechtian qualities to me, it gets the audience is in the action when the terrorists seek the husband out. The groups all had similar ideas in regards to this, one group using the door as a prop as well and the other positioning the husband in the audience as well. However similar the staging of the scene was, the interpretation and the reconstruction of the scene was very diverse and which I was happy to see.

Week Four

There is no easy way to say this but I don't think that I am a fan of Artaud's work. When I go to the theatre and see a play performed I want to understand what I am watching. In the lecture, when we watched the 'Jet of Blood' clip, I had no idea what was going on and was sitting there thinking 'what the hell am I watching?' I found that reading the script for the scene I was being exposed to, helped me to understand what was going on but even then, it seemed like mumbo jumbo. Even though my interpretation and analysis and personal views of Artaud's work are a bit obscured, I do understand what he is trying to do. To quote the lecture, in his theatre, Artaud 'wanted theatre to be the site of a totally sensory experience and he wanted to use visceral shock to short circuit rational response and release the subconsciously sensory experience. Having seen his work performed, I believe his work achieves his aims rather well. After this weeks lecture, I have to say that I am very much a fan of Stanislavski and realism and Brecht and Epic Theatre in comparison to Artaud and Theatre of Cruelty.

This week in class, we got into groups for our dialogue. My group is doing The Breakfast Club scene and I am playing Andrew. In class we de-constructed the scene and started to think about the emotions that the characters would be feeling as they said their lines. From what I gather, Andrew has a range of emotions that he is feeling. When he says his first line ('I can...uh...tape your buns together'), I thought he would say it in a cocky or joking manner, because at the beginning of the scene, I get the feeling they are all trying to show off. His next line is after Claire puts her lipstick on with her cleavage and Andrew is enquiring about where she learnt that trick. I think he is somewhat impressed with this. His last line is after Bender reacts sarcastically to Claire's ability to do what she can do and he calls Bender a prick. I think Andrew's emotions are somewhat evident here; annoyance with Bender. That was my interpretation of the character at these points in the scene. During the aftermath of the workshop, I went and watched The Breakfast Club, not to get ideas for characterisation because I understand that that is one actors portrayal of the character (and I do not want to simply recreate Emilio Estavez as Andrew), but to see how my interpretation of the whole scene differed from the actual scene, context and all. It was vastly different. When I first read the scene, I thought that this was preceded by a happy moment and everyone was getting along, however it was the polar opposite and this has really enforced this belief of mine that context really helps.

Week Six

An thus the study break came to an end and it was all 'hi ho, hi ho, it's off to uni I go' (I couldn't resist, it came to mind and I thought I was very clever). This week was without lecture so...I don't really have any thoughts about it...

This week we did an exercise based on a Greek tragedy with this REALLY dramatic plot. However the name of the play has escaped me, but essentially it was about these two sisters and one married this guy who took her away to his country but the sister whom he married wanted her other sister so he went back, picked up the sister and took her back but on the journey home he fell in love with the other sister, raped her, cut her tongue out and left her to die on an island. Word got back to the sister that the guy married and she was angry at what he had done and this exercise was based on her making the decision to take him back and kill the memory of her sister, or to leave the guy. Essentially everyone who was given the character that had to make the decision to go back to the other character did go back and 'kill off' the other sister, but we all had to do it when we felt it. When acting, I have never really done this before but really thinking about it, I think it is necessary; especially when performing in similar situations to this. If your husband or wife kills your brother, you really need to consider whether or not you are going to forgive them and you need to feel that the moment is right to forgive them for this treacherous act.

After this we, continued to work on our monologues. I am still coming to terms with playing a character that is vastly different to myself, but then again, acting is about being someone different to yourself.

I like your attempts to connect theory with practice...particularly how it affects your personal sense of character. Good work.

Week Seven and Eight

I am writing these two weeks as one because they have essentially been about the same things; perfecting our dialogues for assessment in week nine. These past weeks have been excellent! My group really hasn't had much of a chance to rehearse together collectively with absences, so we really need this time to work together. During this time we have also had an opportunity to have some guidance from Serge which I think is needed. It is good to have some input from people outside our group because at the end of the day, feedback from another person can really help enhance our performance and help us get the best mark we can/entertain those watching us. Not to mention there are many groups in our class that are doing the same dialogue as we are so have Serge's input can help make sure that we do not produce something that other groups are doing. Some of the direction that I received was to play up the sexual-ness (if that is a word then YAY! if not then forgive the poor English) and to be kind of a pervert in my portrayal of Andrew by saying lines such as 'I can uh tape your buns together' in such a way that gives the impression of sexual interest in Claire. This is different to how I was thinking of saying the line, originally saying it as a bit of a 'cheeky' joke, but now that I think of it, it might suit better. This interpretation of the character is again pushing me to becoming a person very different to myself and I am having a slight difficulty acting like a jock who has sex on the mind constantly. So if there is one thing that might let me down in this performance, it could quite possibly be that. But in the week leading up to the actually dialogue performance, I am going to try my best to rehearse saying my lines in a sexual manner to try and get it right.

Week Nine

And so performance week has arrived. I think my group did really well and it was a shame that it seemed our performance went REALLY quick. It seemed like that when I finally seemed to relax and enjoy being on stage, it was over. I think, and hope, that I mastered my character and became a sexually keen jock. I would also like to add that everyone in the class did extremely well and it just proves that our class is full of very talented individuals. All of the performances we diverse and had a really interesting take on them. The two that really stood out for me were two of the other 'Breakfast Club' groups; the 'in the audience' one and the 'lunatic asylum' one. Even though the group that positioned themselves in the audience and meant that at times it was difficult to see, it was something very different. I felt that it also helped the audience grasp some personality traits from the characters, specifically Allison, who is the loner and the weirdo. By positioning her at the front on the stage, really helped isolate her and make her look like an outsider. I really liked the group who set theirs in the asylum. It was just so different and really enforced the idea that people all have different readings of a text.I thought it was a bit strange at first, but I was wrong. IT REALLY WORKED! Not to mention it was well cast and well acted. After seeing the performances, I am really looking forward to seeing what everyone's monologue's are going to be like. I am 1000% sure they will be amazing!

Week Eleven

In the past couple of lectures, there has been a strong focus on the technical side of a production...well I say a strong focus, but it has been the only focus. Only once in the past have I really had an interest potentially having a career in the technical area of theatre. However after learning more about lighting and sound, I think that I would, at any time in the possible future, consider working in these areas. I got so caught up in learning about this stuff and being so interested in it all that I completely forgot about the fact that I needed to study for the tech test...which wasn't difficult because it something I like to study. The tute began with everyone's arrival at Nexus. I was prepared and confident. We dove head first into information and then finished the first half of the tute by doing some rigging. It all seems pretty straight forward stuff and not to complicated...but mind you we were simply hanging lights on the bars and then patching the lights so I assume lighting can become more difficult when more is done.

After a short break, we moved onto the test. This test that we had only heard about and seemed like something out of nightmares! Which actually turned out to be like something out of a dream! Never have I left a test situation where I have felt so confident that I did really well...although at times I do worry that I might have found it too easy! With the tech side of the unit done and dusted, I must say that I will be leaving this unit with a high regard for those people who make lighting and sound as well as other production roles.

and then what? Good journal to date...referencing work outside the unit would be beneficial...the visionaries... Grade P+ [unfinished]

Week Twelve

This week has seen a return to the slightly regular class format with no assessments to be done or to be worked on. We did a group reading of the 'Jabberwocky' by Lewis Carroll. In high school we did 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' for a school production, so I was familiar with his work and the lack of sense that it makes, so I was not entirely shocked to find that I did not understand it AT ALL! I really enjoyed the exercise that we did; being grouped and then allocated a set of lines that we had to speak and told how to say them. This exercise was very enlightening and interesting to be a part of; I can only imagine what it would have been like to see. It wasn't until we moved all grouped together and positioned ourselves apart from our fellow group members that I think it became more interesting. It went to that level that I didn't think it could. While working on this exercise, it was pointed out that the Jabberwocky could possibly a misunderstood character and could not be the antagonist. I found this to be a great observation. I would never have thought about that in a million years, and I think this really reinforces the idea that different people read texts in different ways and my interpretation of the text.

We then moved onto these Japanese movement exercises which were fun to start off with...but after a while became slightly harder and harder to do (and proved that I am incredibly unfit) especially when we were given the freedom to do each exercise in whatever order we want to. I think it is partially because there was so much to take in at once. As with the previous exercise, one thing that was pointed out was connection with the text from the previous exercise. When we were doing this activity, I did not find any really connection with the Jabberwocky text or any of the little scenarios we were doing.

On a side note, I have finally decided on my monologue for the audition piece. I have chosen the piece from 'Fantastic Mr Fox' based on the novel by Roald Dahl. I have chosen this because I think it contrasts heavily with the character and excerpt from the dialogue assessment. This particular piece and the character is vastly different from 'The Breakfast Club' and the character of Andrew and as a result will prove to make my audition monologue interesting.

Week Thirteen and Fourteen

And so we have come to the final two weeks of AP1. I am absolutely in shock at how fast this semester has gone but am at the same time, incredibly relieved it is almost at its end.
This past couple of weeks I have been busy working on my monologue, while at the same time trying to juggle the lead up to intensive rehearsal week for Children's Theatre and eventual performance week as well as working on the final cuts for films for another unit so you could say I was a little glad to get to class on Tuesday to work on my monologue; a whole two hours to work on it without a single interruption from another unit. So having chosen Fantastic Mr Fox as my audition piece, in my spare time I decided to go back to the beginning of the 'Acting Characters' text book for the unit and decided to look at the nine essential skills for a successful actor, and see if it would be possible to apply any of those steps to my monologue. The one that I thought really related to my monologue was number 6 'being able to create and maintain a sense of reality in imagined circumstances' (Elsam 2011, 2). I felt that this was important because the setting of my monologue is in between and underground setting and an above ground setting, so I need to be aware or my characters reality so I can move in it and make the transition from underground to above ground.

In the week thirteen tute, while waiting to perform our monologue we paired up and read the other person in the pairs monologue to them and then direct that person in their monologue. I found that this was a brilliant thing to do because you can get a diverse range of ideas on how to deliver your monologue and not to mention, I like being directed in my performances too. I was however a little nervous about leaving class on Tuesday knowing I had not worked on my monologue with Serge and didn't have any feedback on what I could do to improve it. I was even more nervous about the fact that the only day that I could slot a time in to work on my monologue just happened to be the day that everyone had decided to go and work on their monologues. So I went into the assessment feeling a little unprepared.

I have to say, aside from the dropping the lines and having an internal freak out, I think I did a pretty good job with my monologue. Usually I would have been cut up about forgetting my lines on stage but bouncing back made me forget all about that and just relax and not worry about what I could have done better. Yes, my characterisation could have been better and I recognise that but people laughed (hopefully with me) and I had a blast performing it and think that overall, I did a good job. The whole class did a brilliant job. Some stand out performances were Maree, Nicole, Kristy and Karen. The first of the two made me laugh so hard (in all the good ways) and produced really good work whereas the latter of the two also produced great work and made me feel the emotions that their characters were feeling and completely blew me away.

I have had such a ball in this class and have really enjoyed working with the people in it and can't wait to work with them again, and if I don't, it is a terrible shame but with them all the luck. Bring on AP2 next semester!

Revised grade: C