Our first month in lockdown has actually been very productive for me. This has been due to Bard City giving me plenty to be working on and thinking about and Trinity Laban keeping us going with online lessons and showcase preparations. I have, however, spent 90% of this month on the platform Zoom.
SHAKESPEARE IN A WEEK:
This has been the real focus of my April and has kept me occupied for the best part of three weeks. We were working on Richard the II in a workshop style via zoom directed by Owen Horsely which concluded in a reading for family and friends. It gave me plenty to be doing and I really enjoyed learning my lines and getting stuck into the studying and reading of the play, including Thomas of Woodstock which gave us some pre context.
The week itself was not what we expected and far from the rehearsal rooms that we as actors are so used to and thrive in. Zoom is a completely different world and comes with its own sets of challenges, it is also exhausting to act through as without the other actors in the same room and being able to volley off their energy, conjuring that within yourself for every line to send into the space is very difficult.
However, I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and got so much out of it. Whilst not being in a rehearsal room posed challenges, doing it this way has taught me to listen so much better to the other actors and has really strenghened my ability to create a connection with someone. At multiple points in our versions the scenes were electric with the momentum and connection of the actors and if we can achieve this over zoom from our living rooms miles and miles apart, imagine how well we will be able to do this when we finally get back to normal. I spent hours in front of my tripod taking pages and pages of notes, even when i wasnt in the scene, because I was just enthralled by the text and the intricacy of the language and how much is already written in for us by Shakespeare. Despite the days being 6 hours long, I honestly could have listened to Owen speak about Shakespeare all day, and on thursday evenings I optionally chose to do just that in his Shakespeare Workouts which have been so interesting and informative.
Whilst disapointing that we couldnt do a proper performance at the end of the week in a studio with an audience like was the original plan, I have learnt so much from Owen and from the other actors in the cast. Some of the discussions over scenes just completely blew my mind and I feel like I now have such an arsonal of tools and devices to apply to any future Shakespeare I work on. Despite being in Lockdown, and whilst of course I wish I was in Greenwich at school I don’t feel like I have neglected any learning and in fact I have been enriched by this process. Having the focus be less on the acting and performance and spotlighted on the text, which is truly the basis of any acting and performance, has been absolutely priceless to me and my development as a shakespearean actor.
I now really look forward to Thursday nights and the Shakespeare Workouts for the rest of this lockdown and the future because I have just really clicked with how Owen works and explains Shakespeare, it just makes so much sense to me in the way he puts it. I really really appreciate Owen still going ahead with Shakespeare in a Week despite the COVID -19 fiasco and moving it onto zoom. It wasn’t the original plan and is not really what such an accredited Theatre Director should be expected to manage but he did it so well and it was not only informative but really fun.
Owen asked us in our time to consider the language as a person and what charactersistics we would give it. So I am going to end this section of the blog with an attempt to summarise the language of a play I have now fallen in love with.
‘How would we characterise the language of Richard the II?
The language of Richard the II is littered with lyrical whimsey. It is light and comedic but direct and sustained. It is rational as there is balance throughout in keeping with law, order and proportion. Yet it is also playful and inviting to listen to due to the lilting rhymes that pepper the scenes. The language is the true protagonist of the play and whilst the characters weave in an out of its pages, battling between one another with their own uses of the text, they have no real autonomy against it. The language is the gaia of the Richard the II world as it contains everything the reader and actor will ever need.
Trinity Laban Classes:
These lessons started yesterday so this is still early days for me to be saying anything about that I am aware. I am just grateful to the school for even trying to continue lessons normally as its great to keep going and seeing everyone. We have most of our normal lessons, even dance and the teachers are being so helpful and understanding. Its such a weird time but we all just have to do the best we can and keep going.
Whats the Form? – Tom Wright
This was a really great playwrighting workshop through The Mono Box and it was three hours of pure knowledge. We were discussing the forms different plays make and what the form adds to the play. Tom gave us some great techniques to work on and apply to our own work. It was just incredibly informative so good to zone in on just the aspect of form. I have another workshop like this with Tom in a few weeks and so plenty of time for me to digest this information and apply it ready for the next workshop.
The monobox is running MakersMonth which is a whole month of workshops for free of £5 and so have booked up as much as I can just so I can keep learning and improving.
Take care everyone and stay safe!