Week 1

more regular entries would have been beneficial for your journal...

Getting into AP1 was quite exciting. Having done other drama study, Curtin's course years back, Ap2 last year etc etc, i felt it was good to go back to basics and have a reality check. Somewhat. I've always told myself that there's never an end to learning and also, nothing is too "easy" to start. There is always something to learn. I was quite right.

We started of with focus/space exercise, to get an idea of the surroundings using your peripheral vision. We were asked to walk around the DWS, looking straight ahead and try to pick up our neighbours speed and quality of walk - ie way of walking. Even though many people have done this before. Every new trial is a new experience. Everyone in the space is different, their concentration is different, their commitment level is different. It is really easy to just drift away when one is not vocal. This just shows how important it is during a performance. Everyone in the space must be committed. If you arn't, you might be just a second off to pick things up, to salvage, to continue....

We were then asked to quicken/slow down our pace and see if others picked it up. I did experiment with trying to "lead" the change. What went through in my head then? How and where do i make a change that will seem seamless and obvious? So i trialed a couple and the one that got picked up the quickest was making changes, in a big but controlled manner and of course, in the middle of the space as that kind of sends of this rippling effect of change, that seemed to be picked up the quickest. Guess that made sense, people need to see! Of course, for people to see, they would have to be focused. In conclusion? Everyone and everything is important. The sound, the sight, the feeling, the trust, the intuition.

We split into pairs after that an did a trust/leading the blind exercise I've always found this exercise challenging - that i don't actually open my eyes secretly and know where i am just so i can help my partner and make him/her feel they've done a great job leading me. Trust issues? Innately humans just like to take charge and know what is happening. This time. I made sure i closed my eyes. hah. It can be hard when you have no idea how you are going to be led! BUT because we are working together, we just have to trust, that the partner does not want to fail as well. So i just let go n did. It was a totally different experience to just enjoy being led and knowing that at the end i will be safe. This made me think, how? how could i make this experience less daunting for my partner? So i tried, taking her through slowly - gives people more time to take things in. I made sure my grip was firm and comforting - that will give her the assurance that i know what i am doing, gentle touch often sends out the lack of confidence. Definitely importance in ensemble work. Trust. To REALLY trust that each and everyone will do their job to their upmost abilities.

Next we moved on to voice warm ups, It was good to learn a slightly different set of warm ups and bouncing off each others energy was good too as it somehow released the energy of the group and people were less nervous and more focused on working through the warm ups. Certain consonants and sounds are usually harder than others as the placement of the tongue and the tension in the larynx can often change the sound and quality produced thus it was good to revise all these again.

You're telling me what we did...remember I was there ... i am more interested in how what we did affected you...

Week Two – Realism, Stanislavski and getting into the zone

One of my favourite dramatist – Stan the man. He work was definitely important in the development of realism. He drew on inner stimulus, experiences, the emotional journey of one to cultivate this a sense of inspiration that drives the character's motivation. By harnessing the sub-conscious, a truthful experience is produced. By being “in the zone” of the character – thinking, moving, speaking, feeling, smelling – the quality of the performance stays within a certain standard as well. Isnt that great?? Come to think of it, IF one is totally in character, what they do and how they behave wouldnt differentiate too much day to day. Which means, it will be consistent . No?
Stanislavski's 'system' is a systematic approach and the goal was to find a universally applicable approach that could be of service to all actors. He is focused on the development of artistic truth onstage by teaching actors to "experience the part" during performanceYet he said of his system: "Create your own method
What a man!

A very short guide to the man's method
1. Invent a scenario. What Stanislavski calls the "magic if", and "given conditions." For example, sitting where you are right now, say to yourself, "what would I do and how would I feel if there was a crazy person with a gun banging on my front door?" put yourself in that space - it's not difficult. This kind of imagination work is what playwrights do when they create a play. And you can do the same, no matter what sort of performer you are.
2. Break down the action in your scene (or song) into units that follow logically from the beginning to the end. For each logical unit, figure out what your objective is, and how it relates to your overall objective in the scene, play or song. Make each objective believable, clear, attractive to you, and active. These objectives will nudge your subconscious into helping you get what you want, in the imaginary scene.
3. Learn to control your attention. Focus it on something in your scene, whether you have a real set and props to work with, or you have to invent it all in your mind's eye. Focus on the reality of that scene, instead of where you actually are - on some stage, with some other players, in front of a bunch of people. Learn to keep your focus on the invented reality, so you're not distracted and pulled out of it. Your subconscious can't tell the difference, as long as you have the discipline to give it all the right input.
4. Execute true physical actions that fit with the scenario. If they are true in their detail, again they will provoke inspiration out of your subconscious. If you're supposed to be drinking, really swallow. If you're caressing the cheek of your lover, feel the softness, make it real and it can be a powerful stimulus to inspiration.

5. Study the text and the subtext of the piece you're performing. Dig deep into the lines or the lyrics, and try to understand what motivated the artist who wrote them. What were they feeling? What are they driving at? What is their philosophy? These things will get you below the surface and into the reality underneath.
Point 5 is probably one of the most important one to start of with.
Why does his method speak so much to me? Theatre is a portrayal of life and life is real. Simple as that. People can relate to things that are real and believable, if it is too far off, the audience tends to shut off. I would! Having said that, I am not saying this is the most important method but definitely my favourite. I am sure in the weeks to come, I will see shows that have a mix of a few techniques. This is what a journal should be...
All right, back to reality. What did we do in class?
More vocal and physical warmups. I am definitely getting used to this new set of vocal warmups and identified certain words or combination of words that easy to manage and some that need more attention. One cannot be lazy, you've got to work that tongue! It is such a large muscle in the mouth and through specific training ie vocal warmup and specificity of placement. Its get easier as the muscle gets strong. From that, the tongue gets more agile and you will be able to speak clearly and quickly. How amazing is the human body!

Week 3 – Brechtian

Dear Mr Brecht, we meet again! When I was in studying in curtin – in my physio and drama minor days- I did a whole semester of research and performance based on brechtian technique etc. At that point, I felt like I was seriously over him. One thing for sure, I cannot dispute his contribution to the artform. What formed Brecht’s theories and shaped his ideas? I believe Where he was born and the environment he was in i.e. WWI period, Hitler came into power in 1933 etc would have played a part. These events shaped and influenced Brecht's writing. His plays were a direct response to the environment around him and his unique style of playwriting could only have emerged from such a time in history.

Brecht believed that theatre must get down to the fundamentals, it must inform people, it must show its audience how they can change their circumstances.

This was one statement that sat with me, that shaped my concepts and purpose of theatre. It is to inform, to show people the possibilies, to educate to change lives.

How would I describe the brechtian technique? It’s totally the opposite of realism. Hah. The most common statements that differentiates this technique would be
  • Breaking the imaginary 4th wall” - involves the characters directly addressing and acknowledging the audience, whether they break character or perform with an awareness of being watched
  • Alienation effect” -a new style of acting that helped distance the actor from the character, and force the audience to understand what was happening in the story, rather than in the lives of an individual
  • Epic Theatre
  • Didacticism
  • Acting Techniques
  • Gestus
  • Narration and Song
Very good work...

How did we incorporate that in class this week?
In class this week, we started off with our group warm ups, training ourselves to be a geat ensemble! Once again I cant stress the importance of peripheral vision!!! This is so important, its like a 3rd eye ( not really) one needs to have when they work in a space filled with people, 2 or more. It definitely can be trained and I really feel this boils down to concentration and your commitment. We were all trying to do a movement piece together. We stood in a somewhat square, made with 4 pointed tips.
The only persons who would lead the group would be the ones standing at the tip. We really had to concentrate and trust that our neighbours were picking things up properly so that the effect ripples down to the people stand at the back and on the side. Of course, someone did the clever thing of stomping and everyone picked it up. It was pretty amazing! From that exercise, I learnt that one really have to modify the choices in different situations. We were not given restrictions as to what we can or cant do and were only told to let the leader lead. Thus in situations whereby blindspots were unavoidable, use other forms that involve other senses like sounds, smell touch etc. I feel these other senses are neglected at times. Something to think about! Good point
Next we moved on to a play Kiss My Hands, by Howard Barker. 3 groups came up with totally different interpretations. My group took the over the top, comedic version. I loved it. I am a comedic gal! Anything for a nice laugh. Breaking every single rule of realism, we pretty much made the scene into something funny. Other groups did a very solemn, emotionless yet powerful read which worked really well as well. I like it when people come up with different interpretations!

Week 4 - Artaud and the Theatre of Cruelty

Ok. My LEAST favourite.
Class time was fun though! I have done similar activities like these. Limiting the conversation to just a few words or sounds that might not even make sense. In class we were give either a 'yes' or a 'no'. You can only say your own word, yes or no. The scenario – the cheater who can only say no and the one who has been cheated could only say yes. I did this exercise with Raylene. I was the one who has been cheated on =( That sucks!
I started off standing against the wall, observing. I refused to start. I only wanted to look and observe. I wanted to see what my cheater- raylene- is doing. I wanted to give her that silence treatment and see what happens. Somehow, that forced her to start. Her tone set the scene. She was defensive. What did that mean? She was certainly guilty. How true is that to life? A lot of thoughts actually happened in my head.
Ah hah! She definitely did something wrong”
Else, why would you defend yourself? The more I surpressed my anger/upset/the feeling of being sucky, the more defensive she became and to the point where she turned around and tried to make me feel guilty. That was the turning point. The cheater became angry. I became very frustrated too. I realise, this moment, the character I am in, is very much like me. I dont exactly get angry but frustrated.
My yes meant “Why cant you just say the truth and admit you are wrong”
Her no meant “yeah what ever. I am walking away from this”
and she walked out. Isnt that life? People walking out when they give up, cant be bothered or simply too prideful to say sorry.
I love the exercise. It helps to workshop ideas, bounces of energy and sets the tone to situations. Great tool to use when one gets stuck with dialogues as to how to approach a sitatuation. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves!
I will be away for 4 weeks thus I wont get to do a dialogue which is a bummer. Thus it was suggested that I do a write up on how I would play the character in writing. Geez, thats going to be a bit hard. I did not get to do the dialogue I picked. I ended up with When Harry met Sally. Will be a fun one to workshop when I lay hands on the script........................
Looking forward to reading it...

Week5 – BREAK
Week 6 – Theatre making oooOOOOOOooooo
We had a very interesting workhop today, working through different scenarios, situations and practices.
We learnt different ways of greeting in different cultures and countries ie a wave, a handshake, a hug, a kiss on the cheek, then a sort-of European variety of kiss on the cheek, then an eskimo kiss. Of course, I am more familiar with some and not all. This eskimo kiss definitely is something new. The ones that I found hard were the ones that invaded my personal zone, ie the eskimo kiss. To be fair, the first time was the hardest but subsequently it became easier. Just like everything, practice breeds familarity and it becomes a habit and tadah! It becomes natural.
Next, we were given an action/reaction situation. We got into pairs. One was angry with the other, the angry person would turn back when they are ready to forgive/respond to the one who made them angry and make peace with one of the above greeting that we played around with from the previous exercise. This exercise was interesting as certain people would not have neccesarily responded in that manner that was asked of us. What's the purpose of this exercise?
A lot of times, in shows, in different scenes, we would be expected to react in certain ways that is totally not us. Thus, Stan the man's theory comes in handy, Come up with a situation and make it real! Find the motivation behind the actions and there! You have a story!
Last exercise - Very complicated greek story. What is new? Greek stories are confusing. We looked at Greek myth of Philomela, Tereus and Procne. I will skip the story as it is way toooooooo complicated to explain. The task was to play the scene between Tereus and Procne, then perform a 'political' kiss in which Procne 'accepts' Tereus. I did this exercise with a girl. I think we went well. I felt that It was so intense. The main thing I picked out from this exercise was that, physiciality is so important. As none of us had lines, we could only use our bodies and actions to express how we felt. That really made me think or rather, made my body do the talking and the result of that was the beauty of silence and purposeful gestures. Wow.
We did another exercise which was really a challenge to my concentration! Different days...
Compartmentalising out thoughts and actions. We were asked to walk through out own home, in our space and chose one specific actions we would do in 5 differerent areas of our house and perform it at the same time. It was weird to look at ( I bet!). Someone would appear in your bath room of your toilet as if it was their kitchen etc. It was interesting to hear how some peers reacted to other peers whereas others just kind of by passed others with a smile and pretended that no one was in their space. We just kept repeating time after time until we were so ingrained with the movement till it became 2nd nature. This related to the different emotions that would take place when you are that one room, moving on to the next. What were the thoughts in the head? What were the movitions? Hmm... I am sure this exercise would come in handy at some point. To be discussed!
I will spend 4 weeks away. Will miss 3 weeks of class which is sad – 2 weeks or dialogue rehearsals and performance. Would love to watch my peer's work.
New york, broadway, boston, LA here I come!
Week 7, 8, 9, 10
In between work. I still made sure I was feeding myself artistically. One of my favourite drama teacher once told us that being an actor/performer. We should never limit oursleves to just one art form, go out and explore everything your can. I have always lived by that. I love dancing and singing so much that I caught up with my vocal coaches in NYC, LA and Vancouver and sung my hearts out. Even though half way through my trip I fell really ill and didnt have much of a voice, I still sat down with one coach for 2 hours and talked about songs and musical theatre. It was just mind blowing. I love it!
I also spent a lot of time dancing in broadway dance centre and Steps, doing ballet, hiphop, theatre, jazz etc. I have been dancing since I was 5 and I just love to move and love what the body does when music starts playing. Having trained extensively in dance. I know that has helped me tremendously as an actor. I know what my body is doing and I am very comfortable with moving and dancing has opened up a whole new concept of space for me.
I had only 5 nights in NYC and I made sure I spent every night wisely. I watched 3 musicals – Jekyll & hyde, The last 5 years and Matilda and 2 plays – Lukcy guy – Tom hank's broadway debut, SUPER STAR STRUCK ( you will know why later ) and Asher Lev.

What can I say about Matilday (by Roald Dahl). Gosh, the set is just amazing. The whole production by the royal shakespearean company was just Spot on! Enough said really. If you have read the book, you would know. I felt like I was living in the world of Matilda, how is that for realism? Haha.
Most musicals are based around real stories or believable one

Out of the 3 musicals I watched. Jekyll & Hyde was would probably fall under a mix of a few different genres? But great performance nonetheless. I was fortunate enough to catch this run on the opening night. The last time this show was on was.... at least... 15 years ago. I love the songs as I have learnt them from before and I have always been intrugued by how the story( in short) of this crazy scientist can be brought to life. Kudos to technology as that certainly helped to create a make believe platform so believable.
The last musical, an off broadway production – the last 5 years is the one closest to reality. Written by Jason Robert Brown, an amazing composer. This musical was based of his life story. Yikes! He brought us into his memory bank, of the 5 years of marriage he had with an actress, how they met and how they broke up. The way the story was told was really interesting. The female lead talked or sung about her story backwards, where as the male lead talked about his story in real time. Both actors never once crossed path and the only time they did was in the scene where they got married on a boat, sailing through the romantic river lighted up with light – everyone say awwwwwww – and after that, they never crossed path again. The whole show was a 2 person act. I have to say, they both did a great job. Totally commited with what they singing and speaking as if the person was just in front of them. I am sure understanding the story, re-creating situations to help them get into the zone would have been very important here. Truly, its hard enough getting your message across to the actress/actor playing opposite you and in this case, you have no one to play against, just your imaginary co-star. Wow. I am impressed.
Are you ready for this. Remember my star struck moment?
Hey there Tom!!!
How coincidental. The lucky guy is Tom Hank's broadway debut. He took the job up because the great writer, late Nora Ephron, was a great friend. She also the great wrote, When Harry met Sally.
The play is about the life of New York City tabloid columnist Mike McAlary who was awarded the Pulitzer price for exposing police brutality against a Haitian immigrant named Abner Louima in Brooklyn's 70th precinct. The play covers McAlary’s life from 1985 to 1998 as he bounds from one New York city newsroom to another. Ephron's play covers highs and lows from McAlary's career including the tainted Tylenol case and the Buddy Boys of the 7-7 scandal, and dramatizes his ascendance in both status and salary. This ascendance is immediate with McAlary catapulting from being a cub reporter to star crime reporter to star columnist.The play also covers McAlary's near-fatal 1993 auto accident that left him physically impaired. The second act of the play focuses on McAlary's recovery, and two defining stories of his career: the Jane Doe rape case, during which he is sued for libel after his column questions the truthfulness of the victim, and the Abner Louima story, for which he wins the Pulitzer. Eight months later, on Christmas Day 1998, he succumbs to cancer at age 41.
True story.
I enjoyed watching this play to a certain extent. At some point, it felt like it was a musical and they broke into a bit of song and dance. I wondered how it would have been like if they took the glitzy bits out and made it just simpler to watch. I felt too much things was going on at one time. But in all, it was nice to see Mr Hanks on the big stage instead of the screen. He kept up with the broadway veterans for sure so good on him!
I would like to talk about My name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok'

This play is about a young man's struggle between the secular world of an artist, and life as a Ladover Hasidic Jew. Asher Lev is born to parents who are devoted to the life of the Ladover Hasidic Jew. As his mother supports and stands by the work Asher's father does, Aryeh Lev devotes his life to the causes closest to his people. Most of his life is dedicated to preserving the culture of this Jewish sect, and also to helping those who are being persecuted in other countries. He travels often, sometimes to countries as far away as The Soviet Union to help out his fellow Jew. He's rarely home, and young Asher is often angry and upset, wishing his father had more time for him.
From a very young age, Asher has a deep sense of art, and learns to express his innermost feelings through his creativity. As with any artistic genius, creating art is in Asher's blood and it soon gets in the way of his schooling and his religion and culture. His parents are not happy with the way things are going with Asher, but they tolerate his strange obsession, thinking this is just a passing phase. He will grow out of it, they think. His mother in particular does not dissuade Asher from drawing, if only to keep him happy, hoping that he would reward her with better grades in school. And with the help of local storeowner Yudel Krinsky, Asher obtains the necessary pencils and other art equipment to continue his fascination with drawing.
However, his obsession with art does not die, as his parents had hoped. The older he becomes, the more his passion with art drives a wedge between himself and his parents. He becomes more independent in the way he thinks, and soon his parents find they cannot control him. The life of a Ladover Hasidic Jew is one of structure and daily prayer and obedience to one's elders, to one's Rebbe, and to one's God. Asher lives in direct conflict with all this, although he tries to keep his daily prayers in his routines, and is often dwelling on things that pertain to his religious background.
Torn between his great desire to express himself as an artist and the need to please his parents and in particular his father, Asher's life is full of torment and guilt. But he is happiest when he is painting, or drawing, or walking amongst the masterpieces at a museum. When Asher takes up with a fallen Jew who also happens to be one of the greatest living artists in the country, Asher's artistic life goes into full swing. He lives and breathes his art, as Jacob Kahn teaches young Asher all he knows. Jacob convinces him that in order to become a true artist, he needs to live in the secular world. Again, Asher questions whether he is doing the right thing by following his passions and his God-given gift, or should he turn his back on art and follow the route of an obedient Hasidic Jew?
Heartfelt issues. This play talked about everything that is so real to life, dreams and struggles, Parents support and lack of support, choice between faith and passion, family ties. This was one play that broke the 4th wall at certain points of the show, when he is stating a point about why he chose to make certain decisions and returns to that realism experience when he is speaking to his parents, his mentor. Its a play where making different choices at different beats of the show worked for me. The whole play just flowed beautifully.
What can I say. Broadway. You are amazing, as always.

Week 11
Technical production test. It was not as bad as I thought but because I had no idea – very silly – totally slipped my mind that there was a test today – I am thankful if I passed.
Week 12, 13 – rehearsing monologue and 2nd last class.
We did another interesting class today –movement class, totally love it!
Serge read out short descriptive sentence like... snake drinking water, water pouring out though the head, as if you are filled with bubbles... all right, something along those lines
Choosing thy monoglogue. Actually I knew what I wanted to work on ages ago. Crimes of the heart by Beth Henley. Once again, its one of those plays that touch on multiple issues and different characters revolved around different issues that were true to them. Multi-faceted monologue – that what I would call my monologue. The character, Meg, has so much inner monologue going on whilst she delivers her part about her giving up her childhood love and wishing he was really happy, the struggles behind her career and caring for the family, covering up lies after lies from her grandfather who was supporting her whole heartedly. After my first general read, I felt that this woman was heartless. After reading it serveral times, her character started to develop, layers by layers like the onion. Hahah how cliché but its true. Her character started to come alive in my head.
When I managed to perform my monologue in front of Serge, he gave me slightly different directions ( compared to the past when I worked it through with other people ) Which was great! It added another dimension to my character. I love it! After doing it once, serge reminded me of that exercise where we were in our own rooms doing our own things then moving on to the next. He said picture the rooms and picture the thoughts and emotion, only move on when you are done. I really was able to picture finishing of the thought then moving on to the next. This was really important for me as I tend to rush things through and what appears to the audience would be something slipshot and unclean. The audience would not have the opportunity to digest what you just said and then they have to jump ahead and keep up. That was a great reminder which helped me slow down and “slowly” work through my inner monologue one compartment after another, 1 thought after another.
I will be fine tomorrow =)
this semester has passed by so fast, its crazy. I totally enjoyed myself working and studying under serge. More opportunities in the future I hope!

The trouble with writing a journal after the event is that memory fails us and we rely on nostalgia.
The start of a good reflective journal...one that shows you have engaged in material outside the parameters of the unit. Well done.
Grade: C