More Thoughts on Phil Willmot’s article

On further thought, after reading some comments made on Phil Willmot’s article in The Stage, I’d like clarify what I think about his dismissal of any acting training apart from Stanislavski,

I would say that depends on what your understanding of “Stanislavski” training is.   If it includes all of his later work, in which he encouraged a highly physical approach to acting, then any additional techniques such as Laban or Meissner should integrate well with this. These techniques are, after all, exercises designed to help you to develop your sense of physical, Interoceptive and emotional awareness. They are not ‘how to act’ any more than knowing where the knives are kept in the kitchen and being able to manipulate them is knowing how to cook. Thorough Stanislavskian training will give you these skills too, but different people respond in different ways, so I always recommend a mix and match approach where possible.

What is most important is to appreciate that all training exercises need to be incorporated into your very being. At that point, they are already there, you don’t need to DO them in order to ‘act’.

What a Casting Director wants from a Graduate Actor

Here’s a great article from The Stage, in which award winning director, playwright, (and much, much more) Phil Wilmott sets out his wish list. I agree with everything he says, except the part about daily voice and physical training being tedious.

E15 students combine vocal and physical training through Archetypes

In my opinion, if you find your voice and/or physical training tedious, there is either something wrong with the training, or something wrong with your attitude.

Obviously, if you are not enjoying this aspect of your process, you won’t engage with it thoroughly. That means you won’t become the highly skilled creative artist you could be. I’m not saying it should be easy, it should definitely challenge you in every way possible. I AM saying the challenge should be something you look forward to, that you want to commit to.

If your training establishment does not offer this dream situation of daily voice and physical training, create it for yourself. Seek it out elsewhere and incorporate it into your daily life. You won’t be sorry you did.

Clown Actor Workshop in London

at the Bread and Roses Theatre

Come and play for 4 hours, on Wednesday 5th April, 12 noon to 4 pm. I’ll be in town with Dame June Bloom, performing in the evening, so I’d love to spend some time exploring all aspects of our creativity.

From Red Nose to classical Shakespeare performance, who nose better (or whose knows is better?) than the clown how to play?

Bring a text, a story, a song, an instrument, an idea or just bring yourself. We’ll work with Ira Seidenstein’s Quantum Clown: Slapstick to Shakespeare techniques to free up a few silly cells in our bodies. Let’s play!

Cost £40. Booking is essential. Limited places (maximum 10).
Contact Flloyd to book your place

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Not Another Post About Warm Ups!

Oh yes! Because you can never have enough ways to warm up, and to challenge yourself to understand why the Warm Up is essential.

Why warm up? Why not just rock up to class, or rehearsal, or the performance and just do the thing? Can you, indeed, switch from your everyday ways of moving, sounding, thinking and being in your normal life to ways of moving, sounding, thinking and being AS IF you lived a different life, for the purpose of inviting an audience to share in aspects of that different life.

In my book, the answer is always No. You can’t. Nobody can. You can get better at making the switch as time goes by, make it in less time, but only when you really, really know what you are doing. Not just know in your mind, but in every cell of your body – and that takes practice.

So what is a Warm Up, but practice? Practising. Training yourself to be more efficient, more flexible, more specific, more creative, more responsive – and let’s not forget the unspoken one, more responsible.

Here’s a little taste of a couple of exercises we did in yesterday’s voice class. But it’s important to note that we only did this after we had a great sit down discussion about what, exactly, we are warming up and why and how.

Your Whole Self:
a) Your whole body, including muscles, joints, heart and lungs, limbs (including feet and fingers), and of course, larynx
b) Your vocal sound, including phonation, pitch, articulation and enunciation, resonance
c) Your intellect, including powers of observation, concentration, focus, attention, AND
d) Imagination and
e) Emotions
By doing everything at once?

That sounds daft, but actually YES (in a way). Because if you are not being imaginative, creative, playful as you are doing your physical warm up, you are not training yourself to be imaginative, creative and playful as you move in performance. If you are not making some form of gentle sound as you warm up your arms and legs, when do you learn how to move and speak at the same time?

As for emotions… We have them, cooking away inside us, all the time, sometimes so light and subtle they are hard to realise, sometimes so powerful they are hard to control. So use your warm up to notice how you feel, notice how that feeling is fleeting, and how it morphs into something different. All the time.

 

Being in the Presence of Silence

Silence is not the absence of sound, it is presence.Gordon Hempton

As any of my students will tell you, I’m almost fanatical about silence. I get them to do weird things, like paying attention to the quality of the silence in the room after they have finished vocalising a sound. I even insist that they leave their mouths open, jaws relaxed, for a few seconds, maintaining the sense that they are still in the act of communicating, or expressing themselves – only now it is not via vocalised sound, it is via the quality of the silence they have created, which exists in the room. In fact, the sound waves they have just created have changed the sound of the room, and that change needs to be respected.

Because the room already has a sound quality, before we speak in it. Any room, any theatre, any space, as Gordon Hempton demonstrates in the interview above.

Listen to the podcast, recorded by Krista Tippett

As communicators, whether we are actors, public speakers, educators, lawyers, or any kind of professional speaker, we need silence in our vocalised speech just as much as musicians need pauses in music. Language is a form of music, whether improvised or memorised, and how we honour the silences within it are hugely influential on how effective we are.

Listening is a skill, and we need to practise it. Gordon Hemphill remembers the day he realised his listening had been so focussed upon filtering out everything but what he thought was the most important thing being SAID that he failed to hear what was happening, what was present in his life at any given moment.

True silence does not exist, not on planet earth with an atmosphere and oceans.Gordon Hemphill

Practise listening. Go for a walk around your neighbourhood, collecting all the different sounds you can detect – big cars, little cars, footsteps, conversations (don’t eavesdrop, just observe the qualities of the voices), animals, birds, wind in the trees – anything at all. Sit in the park, and see if you can filter out the man-made sounds and find some wildlife to listen to. (By the way, leave your phone at home).

Take the time, during your warmup, to stay with the sound in the room at the end, and at the beginning of each exercise. Notice is there is a difference between the two states. Enjoy them. You are part of them. That presence that exists in ‘silence’ is available for you to be part of. Your presence depends upon your acknowledging it, and owning it.