Meetups, lines and movies

I have some lines to memorize, some scene work to do and should probably be getting to bed to prepare for my early start tomorrow, but instead, I am writing this post to let you know what has been going on with me. Selfless determination or semi-productive procrastination, you be the judge.
In acting/ text, we are working on points of concentration. For instance, we had to do simple tasks, but Debbie would come and whisper some kind of information to us. Sometimes it was environmental, like the time of day, the weather and general atmosphere of where you are. Other times, it was more emotional, like she would tell you a secret or an event that had recently happened, that you would inevitably think about. As an audience member, you have no idea what the person was just told, but you see the change happen immediately, in the person’s whole body, not just their faces. On Friday, we took it one step further, where we were having decision-making discussions instead of silently folding laundry or something. My scene partner and I chose a really serious topic, which I hadn’t really been taking all that seriously at the beginning. I was seeing it more as an improv exercise, which isn’t real. Once Debbie gave me my point of concentration though, for some reason, everything became so much more real, and the stakes were so high. I can’t go through everything that happened, and I don’t want to incriminate myself, but let’s just say that if you threaten my family and then you disappear, I maybe did it.
In stage combat, we added to the choreography we already started learning, but I really have to work on not cheating (in addition to the steps and the moves and everything else). You see, when I am supposed to be aiming for my opponent’s arm pit, I like to aim for somewhere off to the side and above their shoulder, where there is no chance of them even accidentally being hit by me. I need to try to actually aim for the arm pit though, so the person can know where I am trying to attack them, and will be able to defend themselves properly either against mistakes, or if they have a partner who actually does it right and aims for the targeted spot.
I have also been enjoying our rehearsals. We were emailed a schedule, so although we all come in for a company warm up in the morning, we aren’t all there for the entire day, depending on which plays we are in. When I first got the schedule, I started thinking of afternoon teas I could have, going home early…I was excited. In the end, I didn’t reserve for any teas, which is good, because I realized that the exciting part isn’t having breaks and free time. The exciting part is getting to run lines with the other members of my ensemble, working on characters and accents. I was happiest being there and working, even when I was sent out of the circle so I would be forced to project my voice better, or when I was just whispering the lines to someone for another scene.
Our movement teacher asked us how our time here at LAMDA is going, and I didn’t quite know how to explain it, but…all of this is new to me. School has always been sitting at a desk and reading textbooks or getting lectures. As long as you remembered what you were told and gave the answers they wanted, you got good grades. Here, we sit on floors before walking and running around rooms. We spend hours warming up. We play games. Teachers don’t want to give you answers, or tell you things, they want you to discover them on your own. Homework is never something concrete like read these pages or do this exercise; it is trying to learn the lines of at least 5 different characters and also doing all kinds of scene work. I have never been so immersed in acting, or constantly doing things that scare me. Some things scare me less now, but when I am told I will have to recite a monologue in front of the class or do scenes in a bunch of accents that aren’t my own, I no longer stress out. I am still terrified, but I take a deep breath, and then I get to work. Sometimes, I even volunteer 😉 I hope so badly that I am growing as a person and as an actor through all of this, and that I don’t lose it all once I go home.
In singing, I knew all the words and could tell when the song was being played in the wrong key for me, but I am still not so great at the singing part. Still, instead of shying away as I would love to do, or giving up when he told me to enunciate my words more clearly, I pushed harder, singing louder and not caring when I obviously wasn’t in tune or doing it in the way I was supposed to. I had given myself the personal goal of not letting my feelings towards my performance dictate how I sang (as in JUST EFFING DO IT!) and I did. Unfortunately (or I should say fortunately, since I do want to improve), my teacher has decided that I have a lot more voice hidden inside and he is determined to find it. I would love for him to find it as well, I am just slightly apprehensive about the journey it might take for me to find this voice that everyone is convinced I have. (not as in an amazing singing voice, I don’t think, but as in a louder, confident voice. The kind you use when you actually want to be heard)
This week was really busy as far as non-school things go. On Tuesday I went out for Pancake Day, then on Wednesday we had a masterclass with Alex Waldmann, so I went to see In The Night Time (Before The Sun Rises) at the GATE Theatre , before a showing of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. Both were amazing. The play was funny and sad and happy and had beautiful performances by both of the actors. It felt real and human, even as it veered off into clearly imagined circumstances. I’m really sad I missed the talk back, but P&P&Z kept me and Molly laughing for almost 2 hours. I think it’s because I love Pride & Prejudice and Jane Austen, as well as the zombie genre, but I was so excited all throughout the movie. It was like I was torn between asking myself who in the world greenlit this project, and anxiously awaiting what I knew was coming next, since I am very familiar with the original plot. It kind of combined a lot of the things that I love in movies, and I thought it would have been amazing to be in it.
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On Thursday, there was a blogger’s meetup. You see, before coming to London for a semester, I searched for as many blogs about living in London that I could find, especially from LAMDA students, and North Americans. I also really wanted an idea of lifestyle blogs, for the pictures, recommendations and inspiration for my own blog. It was then that I stumbled upon Aspiring Kennedy. At first, I just read the blogs about places I wanted to go to, but then I read everything. And I was so excited to see that she organizes meetups, but it didn’t seem like they had been happening in a really long time. I was trying to build up the courage to email her and ask about it when she announced a meetup within really easy walking distance from where I’m staying. My nerves throughout the day had me coming up with excuses that I could use to leave early, because I had no idea what I would talk to a bunch of strangers about for 2 hours. Would they all have awesome blogs and judge me when they read mine? A lot of my fears seem so ridiculous in retrospect, but at the time I thought that the worst that could happen was pretty big. As it turns out, some of them had blogs and some of them were just new to London and read her blog like I do. Not only was everyone super nice, but they actually seemed to care about the answer when they asked a question. I have a tendency to put popular people (like actors, bloggers and prom queens) on pedestals, and assume they are above me (which I know is ridiculous) but even Lauren was so welcoming and sweet. I did check my watch a few times in the beginning, but then all of a sudden there was only 10 minutes left and we were still in the middle of our conversation. It was a really lovely evening and I am really happy that I went, and that I spoke up sometimes and wasn’t just a wallflower observing, as I  often tend to be.
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On Friday, I went to the LAMDA Improv Semi-finals, which were absolutely hilarious, and I am in awe of all of their singing abilities (as in being able to not only sing opera and other genres, but also making up the entire song on the spot, based on a topic we give them). Then I went to see LAMDA’s Fiddler on the Roof, which also featured some excellent singing. Having actually talked to some of the cast, either at Sleazy or when the Student Union put us in touch with other foreign students, kind of made it even more incredible, to see what they can do, and the difference from who they are offstage.
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Finally, today I went for lunch with Molly at Nando’s, which is clearly a staple here in London, and then we saw Deadpool. Definitely not a kids’ movie, but I did spend a whole lot of time laughing. It was really interesting how they would break the fourth wall, and also make fun of themselves (either the character, or the actor playing them). I especially enjoyed the opening credits 😉

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”

-Neil Gaiman


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