Saturday 23rd November
This first term was always going to be fragmented. I have taken quite a lot of time to look at each of the students and assess, not only their ability to act, but also their ability to learn.
For the past few sessions we have been looking at a number of key skills- none more important than the ability to listen. Through a series of exercises, we have looked at forgetting what we know about a scene and instead, concentrated on what is presented to us. I have felt that all of the students have concentrated too much on remembering their lines and not on what is happening in the scene. This has led me to spend quite a lot of time recently working with the students on improvisation.
A lot of actors don’t like improvising and having had some bad experiences myself, it’s no wonder. Improvisation works best when we commit to the first thing that comes into our head. If you reject the first thought, then you are already building a barrier and the first word out of your mouth is,”Erm…”
A series of exercises which are designed to allow students to always be correct, whatever they say, helps relieve some of the anxiety. When you can’t predict what is being presented to you, you can’t pre-empt your reply. This gives the scenes a ‘freshness’ and me a better impression of each students actual default acting mode/style.
On Saturday 23rd November, we received a visit from Lime Pictures Casting Director Sonia Allam. Lime pictures produce shows such as, Hollyoaks, Rocket’s Island and House of Anubis and Sonia is charged with discovering new talent and inviting young actors, to work on scripts at Lime pictures studios in Liverpool. All of this with a view to finding actors, writers and presenters for future projects.
Knowing that Sonia was attending was extremely useful as it allowed me to challenge the students, to present themselves to a visiting casting director and to consider all of the things that we had previously discussed about the impression that we leave behind.
Prior to her arrival, we discussed commitment and the fact that no casting director was going to be interested in ‘work in progress’, but rather, we had to present ourselves in the best light possible.
With this in mind, we discussed the students’ ability to commit fully to an exercise. In previous weeks I had felt that some of the students on some occasions, had failed to really commit to exercises, through fear of embarrassing themselves. We agreed to re-visit some of those exercises and to fully commit to them. The premise being, that if we didn’t commit, (although we may have been willing and interested) our ‘shyness’ could be misconstrued as indifference, or even stubbornness. Both would be fatal in an audition situation. We worked with renewed enthusiasm and the group overcame their largest hurdle and finally began to work completely co-operatively, as an ensemble. The work produced was of an extremely high standard and gave the group a lot of confidence, going into the session with Sonia.
This has been the latest milestone that this group has achieved and for me it is the most important. We have one final task in this first, fragmented term, before the real acting begins and that is to put the students in front of an audience.
We can exercise and exercise to our hearts content, but, I will learn a great deal more about each of the students, as we prepare to share some work (a few minutes of a few scenes) in front of family and friends, at our final session on 14th December.
This weekend (30th November), we choose our scenes.
More to follow…
This is our company Blog, re-capping previous weeks sessions.