Although this is technically our second week of the program, it is really our first week of actual classes. It is starting to feel like Montreal was forever ago, but London and school are still new and exciting.
This week I will tell you a little bit about all of my classes, so that in the future I will just mention them if something scary or amazing happened 😉
Mondays, my little group will generally have Voice, then Acting, before finishing off in Stage Combat. For Voice, we went over a monologue that was luckily from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so I knew what was going on. This is the ‘applied’ part of our voice classes, so the emphasis is on actually using it for texts. We mostly worked on thoughts, which is interesting, because I am learning more and more during my time here that Shakespeare is written to be performed, not to be read.
In Acting, there is a lot of exploring, mostly of physicality and of ways to feel a certain way without having to live through those circumstances. Probably not the best explanation, but we did things, to see how they felt, so we could use them to fuel us if we had to be battle-worn or excited or something in a scene. It’s very abstract, but also really interesting.
Our first stage combat class was a lot of discussing how fighting is a form of communication, and why people fight, what the social cues are…it was definitely a different perspective, before we moved on to some more physical work. We got to use the big wooden staffs, which was cool, but they are also kind of heavy and awkward for me when it came to doing what he taught us. I have the defensive part down pat, but I am still working on what I am supposed to do so I can end up in the proper offensive positions.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays we have rehearsals. There are 3 parts to rehearsals, but only 2 performances, which means there is a lot less pressure, and much more learning and discovering in this first part. The group is divided into 3, and we each have a director, who chooses which plays we work on. Part 1 is a Shakespeare History, so we are doing Henry the Fifth, then we will work on a Restoration period Comedy Of Errors, before ending with one of Shakespeare’s tragedies. I am really loving our current director, and although I don’t always see the point in everything we do, I am still forcing myself to face my fears and get up there, which usually lets me discover something I wasn’t getting from simply watching others do it. There is a lot about being on the stage while not acting, but just inhabiting the character and being there, as well as exercises to be a cohesive ensemble. Some of the things we do, I would have a hard time convincing you aren’t just games, but I can kind of see how all of them will really help us out in the end. And I am definitely not opposed to having an incredible time while learning 🙂
Wednesdays my group has Singing, followed by Alexander and Historical Dance in the morning, before some kind of a masterclass in the afternoon. This week, our masterclass was with Nick Haverson and it was absolutely amazing. So much fun. He is so full of energy and clearly loves what he does, which makes you love it too. He came back on Friday and we actually worked on a bit of Shakespeare, breaking it down and taking it apart to understand it better. Had I had the scene on my own, I would have been lazy and not gone through the trouble, but what we did really made the final product so much more interesting and vivid…definitely a tool to keep in my back pocket 🙂
Alexander was very similar to what we did in New York, but singing is absolutely terrifying, or at least it should be. Although I feel like I’m okay at karaoke if I have the right song, any assumptions I had about my singing abilities died when the teacher had me sing a few notes solo. If he had left me struggling like that, I would probably be dreading singing class. Instead, he had one of the amazingly talented singers in my group sing with me a few times, so I could have a reference point, before doing it on my own. I still have to learn a song by our next class, and will eventually have to sing alone in front of all of my peers, but I am not so worried. Still terrified, but I am pretty sure nothing bad will happen to me if I fall flat on my face. The girl who sang with me gave me a high five at the end, and I know it wasn’t because I was awesome. It was because I was scared, and not so great, but I still went for it. And it made me feel so much better 🙂
Historical Dance I love. Which I had been expecting. Not only because it makes me think of all of the movies and tv shows I love where this skill could be useful, but simply because it is fun. So much fun. So far, people think I’m joking when I say we could all get together and practice in the lobby, but, you know, it could be fun.
Friday, we had another voice class, this one ‘pure voice’ where we will be learning how to talk like the Brits, or at least how most of them talk on tv. We will also work on the breathing and the muscles, which is probably where I will need a lot of work, as I have always been told that I am sitting on my voice or that I don’t want to be heard. Either way, the teacher is really nice and I am really excited for all that we will learn 🙂
Our acting class on Friday was more about the text, so we read some speeches in a circle, switching off at different points, and there is something about listening to it and the emphasis it gives to certain words that made me understand the speech so much better than if I had just read it a bunch of times at home. After working on it all kinds of different ways, we had to circle the parts we still didn’t understand, and I only had one line. Even more exciting was that Richard III is actually about Richard, George and Edward, the 3 Sons of York, whose history I know really well from certain books that I have read. It is now at the top of my reading list, because although I still can’t help with what is going on in the play, I could answer almost all questions about who is related to who and what happened historically.
As for the weekend, yesterday was sort of a complete failure of what I had planned to do, but absolutely awesome as far as what ended up happening. At the last minute, I changed the venue and time for our afternoon tea, then got there and found out we couldn’t have afternoon tea until an hour later, at which point they were fully booked. I panicked. A little bit. Because I was letting everybody down. But then we ended up just having breakfast, with some tea, and although I will go back for the afternoon tea, I still had a great time.
And then I spent the rest of the day meandering through London with company, which was exciting for a change. We went to Leicester Square, Covent Garden, the Royal Opera House (couldn’t have tea, but did see the room, which was gorgeous) and even ended up having afternoon tea at BRGR & Co. Normally, you are supposed to book it 24 hours in advance, but I had no idea, and we were already there, so the waitress went and checked and let us have it 🙂 We got two cheeseburgers instead of a salmon and prawn burger, but it was still delicious. I gave away my prosecco, and probably shouldn’t have had all the lemony drinks and desserts when my throat was already feeling iffy, but it was worth it in the moment.
Today I am having lots of tea with honey to make up for it, but I also took the time to book a trip to Belgium 🙂 I will be crossing off 3 countries in one weekend, and I will be doing it with a friend, which just might be the best part.