Tag Archives: performance

Being in Voice: The Acting Class is Back!

OK! Now that the excitement of mounting a full scale production for Thunder’s Mouth Theatre is all over, everybody has been paid their share of the profits – and there was a profit, thanks to our steaming fund-raising campaign and my finely-tuned budgeting, the time has come to prepare for the new year, and the good news is: The Being in Voice Acting Class is Back.

Bookings are now open, and I suggest you don’t mess about because I have decided that I will only work with six (6) people at a time. So, the first season is 6 classes, 3 hours each, for six participants. This means we can train as an ensemble, create scenes as well as work on monologues, and also get individual attention.  It will be challenging for all concerned, myself included, and I CAN”T WAIT!

Did I say I’m excited?  Or did you guess…

Who wants to come and play with me?  Full details at the Being in Voice website.  Pass on the good news.

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Refreshed, regenerated and revived

Just back from a three week trip to Dunedin, NZ, where I got to teach the University of Otago Voice and Movement paper (class), and the Shakespeare Performance paper, run an Archetypes Workshop, and direct one of the three 40 minute productions for the SGCNZ NSSP week. That’s Shakespeare Globe Centre, New Zealand National Shakespeare Schools Production week. What. A. Blast!

Here is my team, The Winter’s Tale company, but where is Mote? (He was busy packing to go home when we took the photo). So, here are some snapshots of the Snapshots exercise the groups undertook as one of the other director’s (Damian Bertanees) workshops, presenting images from the story – including Mote. But where were the others? Never mind, they are all there one way or another!

feedback session sans Mote

There is no truth in the Oracle!

Exit, pursued by a bear

I haven’t had such a good time in a workshop situation for a very long time, and I DO enjoy workshops. This one, however, had that special quality that only comes along once in a blue moon, where the passion and commitment is at such a high level that the work seems to transcend the individual talents, or energies of those involved.  I hope to get a copy of the dvd of the final performances at some stage.

Now I’m back in Brisbane, working with my lovely private students, some heading for NIDA and WAAPA auditions, some working their way back into commercial voice-over work, all exploring new ways of expressing themselves that take them out of their comfort zone into a wider, broader, deeper understanding of who they are, and why they have a passion to share their understanding of the world with others. What a journey!

I also had the honour of providing a voice-over for Dr Glam’s latest epic collaboration with The Magnolia Corporation, “Interstellar Overdrive”. Check it out here.

recording voice-over for Sparkles

I’m now about to begin rehearsals for my play “The Fall of June Bloom (or What You Will)”, to be presented by Thunder’s Mouth Theatre in November. More details here!

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The Sound of Quality

How do you describe a performance that absolutely rocks?  The kind that picks you up by the scruff of the neck from the moment the performers appear before you, and keeps you engaged till the bows at the end?  They don’t come around all that often, so you won’t find any University courses that only ask you to deal with performances of this calibre.  Whether you are studying Theatre Studies, or Performance Studies,  when they send you out to attend theatre performances so that you can analyse them, you won’t be asked to write assignments accounting for the over-arching strategies that resulted in such fine work.  You’ll be asked to comment on different elements – for example, the lighting, the use of the space, the director’s vision – and you’ll be asked to explain what was done, and how.

The result of this kind of education in theatre arts has the effect of denying that there are qualitative differences between productions, and between methods of using the various elements.  I’m not saying that these courses should only be training theatre critics, I am proposing that critical rigour should be an element of the training.

Imagine a literature course that expected its students to read any three books published in a given period, with no idea as to whether the books concerned were well written or not.  Even limiting it to books by certain authors, or from certain publishing houses is no guarantee of quality.

But as I said, there just isn’t a lot of really finely made theatre around, so you couldn’t expect the theatre/performance/drama 101 courses to wait until there were enough excellent productions available to study.

And perhaps this accounts for the fact that theatre text books, and journal articles about theatre productions can talk about shows that were, frankly, pretty poor, analysing their socks off without a hint that there was just nothing better to talk about.

And perhaps this is why we don’t seem to have a formal terminology to discuss different qualities of work. Or to be able to say when, and how a performance DID hit the mark, and what bits of it did not.

And there’s no use arguing that such things are ‘subjective’, because all observations are necessarily subjective. I might argue that the lighting effects at one moment created an atmosphere of fear, and you might argue that it created a calming effect. The marker would credit us both, because we noticed the lighting effect.

How do we describe the lighting effect that was so effective that we didn’t notice it?

Or how do we describe the acting that was so sublime that we didn’t notice the voices providing us with the language of the text?

Just asking…

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The HERO challenge

The new sessions of The Acting Class began on Sunday morning, with the first of the six Archetypes we will be exploring – one per class.

What is an Archetype? Well, first let me acknowledge that everyone who works with some principle involving Archetypes will do it differently. I begin with John Wright’s Masks of the Archetypes approach, and then play with it my way.

You will do it differently. That is because Archetypes are just ways of being human, ways of recognizing certain ‘types’ of people, ways of recognizing certain aspects of our own ways of being. There is no such thing, in the world, which can be identified as being an actual Archetype, and there is no such person who can, either. You can be a hero, huntress, child, fool etc, but that just means you are manifesting qualities which are recognizable from our mutual idea of what we understand as Hero, Huntress, Child or Fool. These are ‘types’ which occur in the folk tales and songs of cultures throughout the world.

Batman is a hero, just as Hercules, Sigurd, Beowolf, Calamity Jane, and Cathy Freeman are all heroes, real or imagined. Actors are heroes (NOTE to our American colleagues, here in OZ we are non-gender specific with the word ‘actor’).

A hero is an individual who behaves heroically, or does something heroic, and thus we call him a hero, or her (more usually) a heroine. The Archetype, Hero, has become manifest in them, and we recognize the qualities of Hero, and so we call them heroes. Note where I capitalize, and where I don’t.

So, having spent some time on Sunday exploring the physical experience of embodying Hero-like movement qualities, I have challenged the class to practice the exercise, to spend as much time in the coming week in Hero body as they possibly can.

This morning, I went out for a morning walk, before the heat settled in. As I headed down through the streets of Milton, along Park Road to Coronation Drive and back up Cribb Road, I challenged myself to move into Hero movement qualities, feeling the power in my legs, finding myself looking up and out as I walked (instead of my customary watching the ground). My shoulders dropped back, my chin tucked in and I noticed the impulse for propulsion forward in space now very definitely came from my centre of gravity, which was slightly higher than usual, somewhere round the solar plexus region.

It felt pretty good, I can tell you!  Then it lapsed, and I had to focus to regain the sense of equilibrium, it drifted, I brought it back – and then I realised just how much this way of working is analogous to Fitzmaurice tremoring. Just as the tremor is the body’s response to being placed in an impossible dilemma – the muscles begin to shake, and the breath flows in and out at its own pace – so trying to embody an Archetype is an impossible situation, brain and imagination struggle to make sense of the task of achieving an impossible goal, the body responds as best it can and then the magic happens…

The moment you feel LIKE a hero, it seems as if you’ve lost it. Here you are, all Heroic, and yet you’re being asked to do something absolutely ridiculous like hop on one foot, or remember and speak lines. You feel insecure, the only thing you are sure of is that you are ‘wrong’. In fact, you are absolutely on track, because what you feel is what your particular Hero is feeling, i.e. ridiculous. But you want to be Heroic, and sensible, and so you feel embarrassed, even a sense of failure. WOW!!! How cool is that? A hero who is embarrassed, who feels like a failure?

Your task, now, is to keep working to become more and more familiar with the physical movement qualities, to practise BEING in those qualities (just as you would practise speaking in a new language, or a new accent, if you want to become really skilful with it). I’m sitting here at my desk, realising that I am slouching, so I’ve now drawn up my spine, acknowledged my handsomely ridged brow, strong nose and firm mouth, my furrowed cheeks and my cleft chin, and Boy, am I going to defeat a few evil armies before bedtime?

Of course I shall.

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Open Slather

I’ve just removed the password protection on the handouts, and video demos. Having thought about it long and hard while I was away, I have decided that I would much rather everyone had access to these, and that people actually made use of them.

Of course, you will get much more from the exercises if you do them under supervision, with a teacher or trainer whom you trust.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to chat about any of the exercises, or to enquire about matters to do with actor training, or voice coaching.

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The fate of June Bloom

There are some pretty cool tools out there on the world wide web, including Wordle, which creates a 'cloud' from text you enter into it. Following the example of Canadian actor Kris Joseph http://www.krisjoseph.ca/, I extracted all of June’s lines from the script, and entered them into the Wordle. Here is my cloud:

Wordle: The Fall of June Bloom

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“Deep Voice” is coming to The Acting Class

Just back from my trip to the States, I managed to sleep from 8 pm till 3.30 am, so here I am…

And I am inspired!  So much rich inspiration at the VASTA Conference in New York, catching up with the work of Kristen Linklater, Catherine Fitzmaurice and Patsy Rodenburg,(in workshops) and Arthur Lessac (4 weeks short of his 100th birthday) gave a totally wonderful, political and joyous Keynote speech. He actually danced down the aisle to receive his Lifetime Honorary Member plaque!

I collected my copy of the latest Voice and Speech Review, dedicated to “The Moving Voice”, and an article by Marya Lowry has reminded me just how far our voices will take us, inwards and outwardly, if we allow them the space and size of our imaginations. So –

Not only will be working on our Archetypal qualities, physical and vocal, but they will be HUGE. We will be playing with some of the lamentation work I did with Marya six years ago, Frankie Armstrong’s Voices of the Archetypes and the Roy Hart work I have done with many wonderful teachers and performers over the years.  There will be much laughter, and many adventurous explorations.

And in a day or two I will report on the performance of The Fall of June Bloom which I gave at the conference with my amazing co-actors, John Graham and Micha Espinosa.  Suffice it to say, for now, that it was very well received…

See you Sunday week!

June Bloom at VASTA

June Bloom at VASTA

Jerome (John Graham) and June (Flloyd Kennedy)Jerome (John Graham) and June (Flloyd Kennedy)
watching Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

watching Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

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