Finding yourself in Foundation
Our Foundation Course provides an in-depth introduction to the unique training offered here. We asked new student Jody Larcombe to share her personal journey with us during the course. Exploring listening, the ‘Repetition Exercise’ and what exactly it means to put your attention on your partner.
Week 1 - Starting at its foundation I learnt to take the focus off myself - to stop thinking about what I needed to do to make the moment interesting but to just let it happen.The Repetition exercise highlighted that I was holding on to my emotions, rather than riding with them. I would start to feel and then bring it back down. However, as soon as I started to focus on the other person and made the moment about them, the emotions were allowed to develop. This then allowed myself and my partner to really start listening to each other which I felt gave me an incentive to get even more from her. It was enlightening to see the shift in the process as soon as we got out of our own heads.
Week 2 - Our homework was to look at strangers and see how we feel - for example on the tube. I was aware that our society has taught us that it isn’t normal to make eye contact with those that we do not know unless we intend to engage, especially in London. I noticed that there seems to be a ‘no go zone’ around the eyes so the other person will look everywhere possible that isn’t your eyes. I found I felt comfortable looking at other people who were unaware (as most passengers on the tube are looking down at their phones or books) - it almost felt like a game and that I was in control. However, I did feel that I did not want to hold anyone’s gaze for too long as it felt like I was challenging them and ultimately I wanted to avoid attracting attention.
In our class, we were met with someone who found the exercise leading somewhere that she did not want it to be taken - towards anger. Although I had shared some of her own thoughts myself I felt that to completely withdraw from the exercise would inhibit my ability to judge it fairly.
After experiencing the exercise the second time I felt that progress had been made. The focus was mainly on the other person and challenging their inability to let go and show their anger. I kept pushing the repetition so that she could find her emotions. I felt that I was completely focused on the other person and their actions so that I did not need to be concerned with how I was feeling. This is a big difference from the previous turn where there was an underlying instinct to be interesting. When experiencing the repetition exercise again I felt the emotions much more strongly. I discovered that when the other person correctly identifies the emotion that you are feeling it immediately releases it within you. For example, they identified ‘You’re defensive’ allowing me to take ownership of that emotion and channel it. It was very liberating.
We then had a quick round of the repetition exercise again but this time back to back and then again with our eyes closed. I found these forms of the exercise to be disarming. I feel that we had nothing to hide behind and therefore we were vulnerable. It was interesting to note that every person read the same form of emotion from the other person e.g. multiple people called out nervous energy for one person or energetic energy for another person. I think this exercise will help the actor develop trust in their scene partners.
Week 3 - Our homework was to meet up with a partner outside of class to do the repetition exercise in a public space. I met my partner in a busy cafe. I felt that to begin with the exercise was much more polite as the brain was also more aware of the surroundings and the idea that people close by were listening in. However after time we were able to relax into it although I did not achieve the level of freedom to explore that we do in class.
We have developed the repetition exercise by incorporating opinions. I felt that it really affected the dynamic between the two people involved in the exercise. It appeared to me that it created a more honest approach from each partner as it decreased the ability to hide from each other. It opened up how we felt about each other and added to the journey that we were experiencing together. Instead of just feeling a certain way we seemed to get a grasp on why we were feeling that way. It really highlighted the fact that this was a discovery focused on each other - not on ourselves.
Today we were allowed to start involving emotions into the repetition exercise - identifying the emotion in the other person. To begin with, when an emotion was identified I found that I bounced out of that feeling. However once we broke through that barrier it was very freeing and I found that I took a journey through sadness, anger and happiness - all with their own nuances throughout that journey. I felt that I really started to understand how this exercise allows you to access and stretch those emotional muscles.
In our last session I was chosen to do the repetition exercise first. I found the entire exercise extremely frustrating as the fact that I did not volunteer myself and ultimately did not feel ready to participate yet, was not addressed. I was trying to feel invested in the exercise and therefore my feeling of irritation was conflicted with my mind trying to get me to focus. We then were told some circumstances about the other person which then altered the exercise. I was told that the other person had lied to me so I became instantly cold, angry and channelled hatred throughout the exercise. It was interesting to see how the process fits in to a scene where we have information and circumstances backing up our emotions - even though it is essentially made up circumstances our bodies still go through the same journey of emotions.
I started this process feeling very cautious of the repetition exercise - as it is a process that reveals a lot about ourselves and the defences we have created. After this course I now understand how allowing yourself to forget your mind and see what is the truth of a situation sets you free to discover your emotions. In the exercises I have unlocked many emotions that I have ignored in everyday life - The Actors Temple has highlighted the need to continue to practise accessing these emotions so that when I’m in a scene I can allow my body to follow the emotional journey with ease.
Find out what you could learn from our Foundation Course by calling 0203 004 4537. All our staff have personally taken the foundation and are well placed to advise you.