Playful, Joyful, Delight - Intensive Foundation Diary
As part of their journeys some of our students express their thoughts in a daily diary. This week explore Ed Zephyr's time with us...
This first session was an engaging introduction based on the fundamental idea of 'what is acting' - whether new to acting or experienced, it is always feels useful to explore this fundamental question. To consider what makes acting 'good' and engaging, and then to partake in exercises that get under the surface of it; how as an actor we can put ourselves in the best possible position to be truthful - and therefore for our acting to seem 'real', in the sense of capturing an audience's attention and belief. As this challenging and engaging session proved; it isn't easy! But the exercises were designed to allow us to experience what flips the coin; what changes performance into truth, and what in ourselves gets in the way. And importantly, to break the ice with our colleagues in the room while getting straight into the work. An interesting and involved opening session.
As Morpheus once said "You have to let it all go. Fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free your mind." Today picked up on our philosophical grounding, putting into practice those fundamental exercises to get one out of oneself and focus on the other person. The playful, joyful delight of just letting go and exchanging a rapport that, while repeating only two words, is all about attention on and connection with the other, allowing oneself to be affected by and react spontaneously to their emotions and reactions in a continuous two-way non-verbal dialogue. Observation of others is also important in seeing the effect and understanding it. One of those sessions both that is both great fun and full of discoveries.
Today for me was a useful session as it helped give me tools to be present and authentic when not feeling 100% on my game. For example, addressing the tendency to over compensate and to push too hard when worried that one isn't totally focused. To not overthink it or be distracted by self-doubt; and to recognise one's habits. With the tutor's gentle guidance I was able to see what I was doing and work on it. It was again another focused session on being present and truthful with one's scene partner, tailored to the individual needs of each participant. What also feels rewarding is the gradual build up of relationship between members of the class and the feeling that we're working together as a group and company; sharing support and generosity as performers.
A day of permissions - breaking down barriers of withholding from expressing what we feel and letting ourselves be affected. Awareness drawn to the fact that in life most of us are trained to manage, withhold and control our emotions and responses - a freedom with which we need as actors. Some of it can relate to social conditioning and expectations. It was rewarding for myself to be part of a particular exchange where we shared an especially powerful opening of emotional and physical giving; a great freedom to simply be there with someone and very present with each other in a truthful, emotional moment. It made me reflect on my favourite examples of character interaction (or 'chemistry'), where there is a vulnerability and openness; a sensitivity/reactivity to each other, all of which which makes their narrative seem very real and compelling.
A sense of freedom and an almost intimidating emotional openness has teetered on the edge of the group up until now; this time it seemed to have taken grip. I found myself in long, exploratory, emotional repetitions strongly affecting on both the individual and the audience. Breaking down the barriers of what stops us connecting, this time the physical in greater prominence throughout; be it the holding of a hand, or holding another in close embrace; dancing; crying; being together and present moments of great vulnerability and expression. It felt good to participate in such powerful work - and also to witness it.
This day began with voice and body; for me a workout of presence and confidence - and fun. Following on, the main session was more exploration of repetition in the context of honest observation and reaction; this time, a few dealing with blocks and tiredness which made for a harder session, but an opportunity to deal with challenges that can easily occur in a professional scenario. I have to remind myself that there are no bad sessions; only times when you experience different things and there is something different to be understood from it - and these can often be the most valuable of sessions/experiences.
Today I felt determined to to try and implement what I've learnt about myself in the past sessions. I was again pleased to take part in repetition exercises that resulted in strong emotional reactions and myself finding a sense of awareness of when I was letting myself listen and respond, and when I was adding too much; pushing too much. For me, it's also valuable to be watched; and for not only the tutor but my colleagues to give feedback on their response to or feelings on what they saw, because that tells me that what I think I'm doing is affecting for the audience - and seems truthful to the audience. Of course it's really a case of *not* overthinking it and just trusting in the exercise, keeping the attention outward - and there's a sure difference in how it feels. It comes, as do most things, with practice.
I took another voice and body workout before the main session, which for me was energising and freeing; I've especially enjoyed these classes - most of all the permission of expression and enthusiasm in them. The main session included more of the exercises we have been developing through, and more rewarding experiences with my classmates. Physical connection for me, once again, ringing true; something I have been less aware of/engaged in in the past - some of this is testament to my own personal journey of the past years, and now testing myself out/opening myself up in a space such as this. A foray into improvisation as a last aspect to this intensive I felt unlocked even more potential - another way 'in' that felt immediate and helpful.
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