My First Shakespeare

Today, we performed our tragedies, that we have been working on for the past few weeks. Ours was Timon of Athens, where I got to play Hortensius, Flavius, and the Poet.2016-04-06 20.06.01.jpg
Monday and Tuesday we rehearsed from early morning until late evening, doing our first ever full run, and discovering that Rodney hadn’t mentioned costumes to us, because he already had them all figured out for us. And props. Getting there on Monday was like Christmas morning with bags full of presents. We didn’t have to worry about anything except for the acting. We got notes after the runs, and mine were a lot about articulating and relishing the language, as well as slowing down. My speed is because I do generally talk fast, but on stage, it has a lot to do with trying to get my part over with as quickly as possible. I also have this weird notion that if I can say my lines really fast, it will prove how well I know them. Obviously, these are wrong.
It was on Tuesday night, when Rodney told us that this will quite possibly be our last Shakespeare and we should remember that and enjoy it, that I really got nostalgic. Shakespeare was something I wanted to be able to do for lots of reasons, such as crossing it off a list of things that scare me, and because people say that if you can do Shakespeare, you can do anything. None of my reasons had to do with actually performing Shakespeare for the sake of Shakespeare. On Tuesday night I realized that although I haven’t changed my dreams and goals, I’m not sure I really want it to be my last venture with the Bard. It might just be the incredible teachers or the amazing ensemble I got to work with, but as much as I wanted the stress and the nerves to be gone, I didn’t really want it to be over.
Which it is, now. We watched one group perform Julius Caesar, then the second group had Troilus and Cressida, before we put on Timon of Athens. I am really proud of probably half of my scenes, while I flubbed a line in one, and was completely out of it for another. I fumbled on a line, then had trouble getting a prop, and then for the next moments, I was so in my head about what just happened, that I wasn’t being present for my scene partner, which was the one thing I’d had going for me previously. If I were to rate it against all the other times we’ve done the play, some scenes were a lot better, some were much worse. But, all in all, I think we did a fine job. It was my first time performing in a Shakespeare play in front of an audience, and instead of being lazy with notes so I could blame it on a lack of effort rather than a lack of skill, I took them to heart and actually worked on them. I got a lot of notes and tried my best to deal with all of them, which I definitely did not do, but hopefully I improved. For one, Shakespeare and verse no longer terrify me. I don’t think I am particularly good at either, but if ever I have to do a monologue or a scene from one of Shakespeare’s plays, instead of saying that I can’t, I will work on it, and know that I won’t be entirely dreadful.
I am going to try and summarize the entire experience in a future post, but as far as me and Shakespeare go, I have learnt so much. Not only have I read so many of his plays that I had never even heard of before, but I know what iambic pentameter is. I can figure out where there are shared lines. And, I got up in front of a bunch of people and I put my heart into it.
I want to congratulate all of my fellow semester students on their amazing work in the 3 plays, and I hope that once this is over and we all go home, that our paths cross someday. I will miss so many of the teachers and classes and warm-ups and rehearsals with my incredibly talented and dedicated and willing-to-help-out-the-newbie rehearsal group 🙂

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

-William Shakespeare


Songs and Sweet Airs

This was the name of our singing concert that we had on Wednesday, but I will start with the beginning of the week 🙂
On Monday, the beginning of our voice class was spent embodying the images in our speeches, which really tests how well you understand what you’re saying, before I got to watch others perform their monologues. We also watched the last monologues in Debbie’s class, and rehearsed a bit for our duologues. Lucy and I are doing a scene with Emilia and Desdemona from Othello. It seems that almost all of my roles here at LAMDA are servants of some kind, but luckily, most of them have a lot more, and some strength, to them.

On Tuesday, our first day of rehearsals since being cast, I was not called once, so I had the day off. I took advantage of my day by going to the Natural History, Science and Victoria & Albert Museums, Kensington Palace, and the Peter Pan statue. I also got to see what the Portobello Road Market looks like on a weekday, and spent a lot of time learning lines, and reading the 3 Tragedies that the people in my program will be performing (Julius Caesar, Timon of Athens, Troilus and Cressida).
On Wednesday, we chose our songs and worked on them in class, before Alexander and Historical Dance. We were only 12 in class, so we learnt Grimstock, which is done in groups of 6. Sydney was my partner, and for possibly the first time this semester, I really felt like I had it, not just the steps, but even the doubles. It was a really good class 🙂
At lunch, Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler, Rogue One, etc.) came and gave a talk about working in the industry and so on. He had some really insightful things to say, not only about the business, but about how he goes about preparing for auditions and roles. I now have 3 pages of his wisdom in my notebook.
Then, Wednesday Afternoon was Songs and Sweet Airs, where we each had to present a song to the other students in the program, as well as a few members of faculty. I know that I am getting better at the singing, but I am still not good, and most of the people there wouldn’t know how much I have improved, they will only see how much I am lacking. I compared the nerves I had to going on stage to perform when you haven’t learnt any of your lines. Still, when Gary, our singing teacher, told me my song would be at the beginning of the afternoon, because they were going chronologically, I said I was actually hoping to go first.
And I did. I chose the first song I learnt here, Oft Have I Sighed, and Gary had Noam sit on a chair on stage with me, completely ignoring me. It was a brilliant idea, because it fueled the emotions and made it about more than just me singing in front of an audience, it was about telling a story. I have really supportive friends who told me it was the best they have heard me sing yet, but either way, I got up there and I faced my fears and sang 🙂
I rewarded myself that evening by making a whole lot of mac and cheese to savor while working on lines. I continued running them the next day on my way to rehearsals, where I was called for the first session, as well as the last, leaving a huge gap in between. The first session was with Stevie, for voice, on a scene I do with Adelaide, where I have to make her understand that she is broke and in debt. It is interesting to be her steward in this after being her maid in The Rivals, but I enjoy working with her, and this part should be challenging, but fun. Especially since I have to reconfigure the way that I talk.

Once we finished, I went straight to St Paul’s Cathedral so I could go see the views from the Galleries of the dome. You’re not allowed to take pictures inside the Cathedral, but it is absolutely stunning. The murals and the architecture and…if it were appropriate, I would lay on the floor in the middle of the dome, prop my head up and just spend the day looking up at the ceiling.

Next, I headed to Somerset House and the British Museum (Mummies! Rosetta stone!) before going back to prepare for the last session of the day, which was with Rodney. I definitely felt the pressure of my first rehearsal with him. Not because he is scary in any way, but because he is the head of drama school and so knowledgeable and interesting and awesome, which makes him sort of intimidating. Almost everyone else in the scene ended up on the grass with me beforehand and we rehearsed and talked about the play and rehearsals and I felt a pang of not really wanting this to end.
I didn’t really get any notes after doing the scene, even though I accidentally repeated the same line twice before apologizing and saying the appropriate one. Still, it was really interesting to watch the scene come to life with the other actors. Rodney suggested we not spend every day watching the rehearsals, as there is a whole world out there, as well as lines to learn and character work to do, but I definitely enjoy watching the others work 🙂 And, we were four of us walking home together, instead of just me by my lonesome!
On Friday, Kailea and I finally got to get Stevie’s feedback on our RP scene from Closer. The more we run lines or rehearse, the more I feel like I don’t actually have the accent down at all, so it was nice to hear Stevie say that we were really good, and to know that most of the notes he gave were on words that I wasn’t convinced were right either.
In Debbie’s class, we just rehearsed our duologues, so Lucy and I did warmups and then worked on blocking and figuring out our scene. We agreed to meet over the weekend, as soon as Chelsea would be gone. It helps to have something to keep your mind off stuff like that 😉
For our last movement class (because the final project/performance thing on the last day doesn’t count) we had to talk passionately about food, which made our mouths water and stomachs grumble, before some people did some mask work. Sydney chose me as the Beauty to her monkey beast, so now I can die happy.
Friday night, I left school and had supper at Dishoom with Chelsea, before a weekend of very little work, but lots of exploring a different side of London 😉

“I am devilishly afraid, that’s certain; but… I’ll sing, that I may seem valiant.”

-John Dryden