Brief Encounter with an Archetype

‘I enjoyed your workshop yesterday very much. It felt a bit like Commedia del Arte without masks and without having to keep to your character’s stereotype. Using text with these archetypes was a great exercise towards “truthfulness” of the lines. As an actor I want to be flexible and open for new things when I work on a character and going through the different archetypes with the text allows me to train that flexibility and openness I want to achieve.’ Yesterday afternoon I had the great pleasure of introducing a small group of 3rd year students to the process and concept of working with Archetypes.  I volunteered to give a free workshop, and they chose to show up of their own …

The Magic of Omnish

We are halfway through my final term of teaching voice in my current position, and this morning I had one of those magical moments that make teaching acting students so special. Our first years are all taking turns at leading a short warm-up in class, and I’ve been at great pains to encourage them to be inventive, to mix and match exercises they may have learnt elsewhere, to make connections between their voice training and all their other classes and training. And boy, have they responded, with humming while doing squats and star jumps, different emotional sighs, singing rounds (including something from The Hunger Games), and an amazing range of tongue twisters – including “Benedict Cumberbatch”. This morning, a student concluded …

How I Spent My Holiday

  I had the best holiday I’ve had for years. Hopping onto a train, sitting in comfort watching the fields and towns roll by, hopping off the train to be met by lovely friends who wined and dined me for a couple of days before dropping me off at another train station, to be met a few hours later in a different part of the country by more friends who wined and dined me, with lots of lovely catch up chatter. My last stop was Liverpool, staying with my son Roderick whom I conscripted to accompany me for a mini-gig I had acquired as part of the 2016 Threshold Festival. This is a delightfully vigorous grass-roots music-and-the-arts festival that takes …

The case for learning about sonnets – in reverse

Working – or playing – with sonnets is a fabulous way to learn about how language works, why poetry CAN be its highest form. But where do you start? Ask just about anyone what they know about sonnets, and they will probably say “iambic pentameter”.  Then ask them what that means. Some will know that it refers to a kind of rhythm, most will say it means 10 beats to a line, and some that it means 10 syllables to a line. That is not what the words actually mean, but they are on the right track. Let’s break it down. What does ‘iambic’ mean?  Perhaps you know it refers to a specific rhythm, the one that occurs when you have an unstressed …

Playing comedy – for real

A young actor remarked to me the other day “when you play comedy, you can’t be real.”  My response was a heartfelt denial. Broadway actress, Andrea Martin, 5 times nominated and 2 times winner of a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, says in today’s New York Times, that “comedy comes from dedication to a role, rather than angling for laughs.  ‘To go into something thinking, How am I gonna get a laugh?  Is really disastrous in a play’”. Her current co-star, Tracee  Chimo, agrees: “You want the audience to laugh, and you want them to enjoy themselves, but you can’t ask for it – it’s a funky balance,” she said, “like walking this beautiful tightrope. You just …