Friday, 31 October 2014

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Last director's notes - avoiding silence

 As we prepare for our opening night of SummerFolks, our director Max Key just gave us some last notes. He reminded us to be super on cue, and not let any silence/ small pauses happen in-between lines.

He told us that it took him 12 years to work out this simple genius theatre tip:
It's all about focus. If there is silence, the audience doesn't know where to look - and we lose them. So, always good to do a double-speed run of the show...

Monday, 27 October 2014

The smallest part in the show

I'm currently acting in a production of Gorky's Summerfolks, and I have literally the smallest part in the show. I basically serve tea, announce a few people and look for a lost little boy. 7 lines, max.

I spent a lot of time trying to understand why Gorky - and others playwrights - would bother adding such a small character in their scripts: why waste precious stage time or make the play even more expensive to produce? Of course, there is representing the working class in the world of idle bourgeoisie (Summerfolk is set a few years before the Russian revolution). Also, the importance of sticking to reality: these characters wouldn't have prepared tea themselves.

But as rehearsals advanced and the acting became more precise, I also realised how the play could not be without the servant role:

Changing the course of action
by coming in and out, I give the main characters/ actors, a pause, a time to breath and change their mind... thus changing the course of the discussion of events. They are about to explode and fight - then tea arrives and everyone calms down - giving the audience a glimpse of the characters' feelings but not allowing events to unravel.

Giving flavour to the relationships
By announcing characters differently - the mistress' best friend or the master's untrusted assistant - I give the audience context about the relationships, and colour the whole play.

Crazy, the responsibility on my shoulders now....

Friday, 24 October 2014


Cherry Orchard at Young Vic

During out last directors notes call, we spoke about how harder the acoustics are in the theatre we're performing in than in the rehearsal room. Our director made a point, then: He told us that when our intention is clear, the audience always hears us, even when it is just a stage whisper. Whereas when we don't know why we are talking, that's when the audience doesn't hear us.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Cicely Berry's being yourself

I started to understand what 'letting people come to you' means, and how it actually relates to voice and body technique.
In 'Voice and the Actor', Cicely Berry - voice director of the RSC - writes about the importance of working with one's own voice instead of trying to 'correct' it or 'make it better' (sic) 

"I think one of the greatest fears of the actor is that of not being interesting. This really need never be a fear because everyone is interesting in that he is himself. When you get to the point which says: 'This is me; it will change and perhaps improve, but this is me at this moment', then the voice will become open."

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Jazz and the fine balance of performing

Last night we went to a super cool jazz club in Dalston, where a jazz trio was performing (perfect Friday eve). At some point, the bass player went into a solo, and by went I mean "really went for it" - performing with close eyes, body moving with the music, and the very expressive face of someone transported by music.... The music was beautiful indeed, but the question on our lips was: is he faking it?
When I practice the flute, my body doesn't really move - I concentrate on my breathing, the technique, and my fingers' rapidity. However, when I perform for someone I always find myself moving my body much more with the melody. To be honest, it is a bit to show off... but it also helps me feel the melody much more and be more musical.
And then I always reach a point where I feel that the body movements overtake the technique and my sound gets weaker - then I need to tone the "performing" act down.

I was thinking last night that acting is similar - we feel the emotion, then we push it out for the audience to see, which makes us feel it even more and gives strength to our movements... until the point where we feel that we just overacting and losing the connection between performance and feelings. Then we need to find the fine balance between "feeling in" and "showing out".