Up and Running.
So our first session begins!
We are up and running!!!
Today's inaugural session for Totally-Lit took an unexpected twist, when Patron Matthew Lewis, decided to drop in and say 'hello' to our first ever group of students.
Matthew is, of course, booked in to deliver a Masterclass, later this year, but took the opportunity to come and meet our recruits and also took the time to answer a couple of questions , as well as have his photograph taken. Matthew had, earlier in the day been appearing on Sky Sports programme "Soccer AM" and decided to make the short trip to The New Diorama Arts Studios, to see how things were proceeding, at our very first session. He had also been 'in town' to promote his latest film, which opened on Friday, "The Rise"- a hard-hitting drama, based in Leeds.
The first session is always an opportunity for me to assess students strengths and weaknesses and in addition to this, it allows us to discover how well the group works with each other.
Today was all about "letting yourself go" and not worrying about making any mistakes. We are trying to encourage an atmosphere whereby students can feel completely confident to express themselves, without fear of doing things 'wrong ' or making mistakes. So after a few quick, energetic games, we had a quick chat about how we were going to approach the session.
For me, it is important that the students learn how to get the acting (actions) into their bodies as quickly as possible, so we decided to concentrate on stripping away the verbal communication skills, in order to force the acting into the body.
This encourages the students to be aware, from the off-set, that the physical and visual side of our performance, is the part that the audience is always trying to process, whether in the theatre, or on film/screen. One of the ways of achieving this is to play a game, which requires co-operation from all of the participants and then impose a strict non-verbal element. The group are still trying to play the same game, but are having to learn different ways to communicate.
Later, we created some improvised scenes, that lasted approximately one minute. These scenes were then repeated, with the dialogue reduced to a maximum of 5 words only, each time a character spoke. This exercise encourages the actors to consider the words that are really needed to tell the story and so, in losing the 'superfluous dialogue' we give the scenes a lot more clarity. In making these scenes more streamline, it means that the movements and the actions within the scene also become more economical and take on a greater meaning, as all of the unfocused movement is removed.
Clarity and focus will be a common theme, running through a few of the classes in the next month. When we deconstruct a moment (break it down into actions, reactions, thoughts and feelings), we have to decide just what it is that we are going to tell the audience. Therefore, we have to make, sometimes, small, or simple movements both clear and precise. One of our exercises took a really simple change of focus, from receiving a 'nod' from one person and passing it to another. A simple exercise like this can be easily misjudged as pointless;
1. You look at one actor awaiting the 'nod'.
2. You both make eye contact.
3. You acknowledge the nod.
4. You turn your attention to the next recipient.
5. They make eye contact with you.
6. You 'nod'.
7. They acknowledge.
8. They move on
Miss out one, or two of these elements and the clarity of the exercise disappears. This is the same for acting on stage and on camera. you can combine, or even blend the movements, but miss one out and what's happening is that your brain is moving faster than your actions.
Your brain is where we think about the emotions. Where we process things that we try to understand, but we cannot act emotions. We can only act actions. Our actions (our bodies) tell the story physically and we use it to show our emotions, through action. That's why, when you're on a set, filming, the director shouts "Action!" and not "Think!", or "Emote!!!"
For one brief exercise, we discussed status and tried to include, in a raw and not too subtle way (in our improvised scenes) levels of varying status, between two characters and then a change, or switch in the status levels.
We discovered that status is something that can be determined by where we fit into the group, or demographic that we are part of, but also, that it can change, constantly, during a conflict, or even a conversation. It can often, also be that we can elevate someone else's status by lowering our own, or have a high or low status, thrust , or imposed upon us by one or more people.
Finally, we spoke last week to Amelia at Kids Casting Call Pro. Here's an interview with myself and Anthony. Hopefully you'll find some of the questions and answers useful...http://www.kidsccp.com/uk/page.php?uid=7420
Until next time.
This is our company Blog, re-capping previous weeks sessions.