Note: I'm so sorry everyone!!! I was so exhausted last night that I didn't get to finish yesterday's post. So...here's that post. Because of this, my post for today won't be as detailed, but I'll try my best to describe it without tiring myself out entirely like last night. So again, this post was meant for Tuesday, not today....
Today, there seemed to be one general theme running throughout each and every class: Stay grounded.
I'm so very exhausted at the moment because of these two little words for many different reasons. For one, we spent a lot of the day standing and "enjoying the floor" as our director, Andrew, calls it. We began Scene Study this morning with 30 min of standing still and grounding each body part. Now, please keep in mind that this class lasts until lunch, which is around 12:45; so for three hours or so we're in this one class. Andrew would say, "Pretend that your toes are as long as a hobbit's and try to fully extend them" or "lengthen your occipital lobe but elongate your face" and we would all do so. Then he would follow it up with, "Now reconnect and engage with your classmates. See them" and we would all look up to look at each other. This seemed to go on for forever, but after the half hour we all felt like the floor was somehow softer and more supportive than before.
After our "warm up", we began walking around the space, testing different paces and body positions. Andrew loves this exercise because he says that every nationality has their stereotypical posture and walk. We would walk with our bellies leading us and we were Spanish; chest leading, American; forehead and toes, British; pelvis and ankles, Italian.
We then received our short Romeo and Juliet scenes. We learned a really cool way of how to analyze a scene without emphasizing or focusing on emotion, but rather the information. He had us separate each thought with a slash(/) and put a ring (circle) around each word that lended itself to information, not emotion. Andrew has this thing about never letting his actors actually read from their scripts; he'd much rather the actor speak the lines to his scene partner only when they both have eye contact i.e. look down at the line, look up, get eye contact, and say the line. It was really tedious at first; since we didn't know the lines by heart yet, we were constantly looking up and down. After a while, it became more natural and fluid, so that's when Andrew had us drop the scripts and say the lines in our own words. He told us he was looking for "real questions and answers, not playing emotions". "Tell me, don't show me", he said almost every time someone started to be over-emphatic or too emotional; "I've lost you, come back. I'm looking for sincerity and realness and I don't see it yet; It's all there, I know it is". He pushes us to really see our flaws as good things. "Use your flaw and make it work". We all saw a difference in our performance. I really enjoyed this class, mainly because Andrew is just so odd that it works.
After lunch, we had Dance with Darren aka "DR. Dance". Darren is so flamboyantly fabulous that just his presence brightened my day. He taught us about Jacobean period court dancing. [Interesting tidbit: the phrase "having the upper hand" originated from this period of dancing because men would have women place their palms on top of theirs, so while the man was leading on the left, the woman could very easily become uninterested in him and lift her hand easily to get away from him. Isn't that weird?] We learned a group dance that would've been done in Italy at the time and tomorrow we'll learn duet dancing.
Sonnets with Andrew. He is one smart guy, but just REALLY weird. He's a father of two with a 14 year old ballet dancer son and a three year old daughter who asks the darndest things like, "Why don't actors make as much money as mummy?". He loves laughing at his own jokes and has told us (and proved to us) that he has two sides: flippant and intense. We've seen both in just two days of classes with him. He's SOOOO good at directing because he focuses a lot on technique, which I love! Today we talked about an entirely new concept for me: technically analyzing a sonnet. Now which Shakespeare's plays, I'm pretty good at understanding the special stuff, like how if a character is speaking in prose instead of verse they're either going insane or it's a poignant moment. Turns out a sonnet is actually composed of two quatrains (a quatrain: four lines of iambic pentameter verse)--which makes an octave-- that introduce a story or a theme and then develop it, another quatrain that introduces a crisis (most of the time having to do with death, abandonment, decay and/or confusion in love), and then a couplet (two lines of iambic pentameter verse) that somehow resolves the crisis introduced in the aforementioned quatrain. This equals the 14 lines that make up a sonnet. JEEZ! I wish I knew all this a couple of months ago! Now my sonnet that I used for the Shakespeare competition (Sonnet 149) makes so much more sense because it follows this exact form. Tomorrow we'll actually delve into our own sonnets that we've all memorized. Can't wait to tell you guys about that.
Next we had Voice, not with Budgie but with a new teacher named Adrienne. Now please understand, by this time in the day, we're all pretty tired. There are no elevators in either RADA building-- the one we go to for lunch is a little ways down the block, where the refectory (cafeteria for us Americans) is on the 5th floor. It might not sound like that many flights, but trust me...you feel the pain after a while. Adrienne has a very different style than Budgie. We stood for entire class, breathing and practicing some Tai Chi. It was more like a meditation class than a voice class. By the end of it, everyone was more than ready to go home...
Then we met Katya....Oh Katya...
Katya looks like a more petite Jane Goodall. She's so sweet and giving and makes everyone feel loved and appreciated. She loved joking around with us and randomly starting improv scenes just because someone became unfocused. Katya taught our last class of the day: Physical Performance. I knew this was some sort of movement class, but this British movement class was very different from what I'm used to. We did a lot of laying on the floor and breathing, which might sound a bit weird but it was actually really helpful after a long day--most of us fell asleep for about five minutes. She spent a lot of time talking about using our minds for more than just thinking and how theatre is basically imagining things that aren't true and making them true. We started imagining breathing in with your toes and breathing out with you knees; breathing in with your knees and breathing out with your hips. Believe it or not, the mind can do some crazy stuff. We then rolled on the floor for a bit so that we could rid of all our inhibitions and just be silly and crazy around each other. I think her class is my second favorite, my first being those with Andrew.
After classes, a couple of us decided to go out for dinner. We literally walked a six-block radius before realizing we had actually gone in a circle. Eventually, we split into two smaller groups and I ended up having a very odd version of fish and chips. After that, we went a got a huge jug of Phish Food ice cream and ate it while people watching then came back to the dorms and chilled for a bit...and by I bit I mean well after 1 am (I personally went to sleep at midnight because I talked to my mom on the phone for a bit).
OK...well now I shall start on TODAY's posting....Until some point in the near future :)