Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Write what you know?

To start off the 'a night less ordinary' campaign by the Arts Council the Orange Tree offered under 26's to see Greenwash for free lastb night, as well as the chance to go to a pre show discussion with the writer.

I wish the dicussion had been after the show as it was diffciult to understand what everyone was on about. Sometimes I think its funny listening to writers because it is hard for them to be objective; or is that the same for everyone in theatre? At the end of the discussion someone asked 'what is the worst review you have had so far for the show?' David Lewis (the writer) replied with some ummming and erring and finally said a critic from The Times made a 'cheap shot at the american accents'. From the discussion I expected the show to be good, a few who in the audience who had seen the show before all seemed to have like it.

However, I was not particularly impressed by it. The story had the potential to be good but it lacked substance for me. I think this was partly a result of the acting which was over the top as well as the writing. But what irritated me the most was the american accents which were not very good. The whole show did not seem to understand americans and this really bothered me. I ask the question why not use american actors? During the discussion the Lewis explained that he had spent less than 4 weeks in America throughout his whole life. This really showed in the play itself. He clearly did not write what he knew about, rather he took what he had seen on tv and read in the news and wrote a play based on that.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Does the audience matter?

Yesterday I helped Tuan lead the 1st year warm ups in the morning. The students were good and did try but they were somewhat talkative and it was difficult to get them to listen to us. Though Tuan was very good at getting thier attention. As there are so many of them (80 altogether, we only had about 50) it is difficult to play normal drama games so instead the warm up was more about physically warming up rather than mentally. We did play one game with the which was cat and mouse; this works well with them as the majority of the group stand on the edge and 10 are actually playing the game. Although this was the only game they played most of the exercises required to be silent which meant they could really channel their focus and be ready for the day ahead. I found the warm up really helped me to be ready for the day and also focused my attention on what I needed to do as sometimes I can be quite wayward and not get everything I need to do done.

After the warm up myself and Carolina sat and read The Clean House, an american play written by Sarah Ruhl. I personally find it difficult to read plays because I can never immerse myself into them as you would with a book. However I think we have found reading out loud together works well and helped us to follow the action. The play was a bit abstract but the humour was my sort of thing and so I found it was brilliant. I recommend reading it in one go rather than reading bits here and there. The play is ultimately about what makes you laugh and what makes you love.

I really enjoyed US Drama yesterday as my thoughts about theatre were very much questioned. The man who took the lecture was once a student at the Lee Strasberg school and so had been brought up on method acting. I always thought this was the practice I understood and liked the most however, this has changed. I came to realise that method acting was about the actor and it was the actors job to always be truthful. But I do not understand how you can make something on the stage true when it is clearly pretence. The audience know they are seeing a play and the actors know they are performing a play. How can there be truth in that? Another aspect I could not understand was that it was not the actors job to care about the audience. In my mind the actors are there for the audience. The audience are there for the actors. The actors have to know their audience and respond differently each night to accomodate the different audience. Otherwise each night the performance will be exactly the same but the audience will not be. I believe that the audience are the most important people at any performance. If the actor is only performing for themselves then I think that is slightly egotistical and it will show in their performance.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Schools Schools Schools!

Myself and Danielle went to visit Alexander Juniour School yesterday. We were realy early so we sat in reception and reminised about our time at primary school. At the same time we got a good feel for the school. We watched the children coming and going from lunch, the teachers making sure they were all behaving and from the displays received a good sense of what the school wanted to achieve. I would definently recommend trying to get to schools a bit early just so you can get a feel for the school you will be working with.e
We met the two deputy heads of the school who were lovely. When we first went into their office we were both a bit scared but once we started chatting about the project and the teachers started telling us about what they hoped for both ours and the teachers enthuasim was flowing!

The school would like us to do a lot of work with them over the whole term and as much as I would love to do this I am worried that the other schools we will be working with will not get the same from us. However I think if we really organise our time well then I think we can do a lot with each school.

Another thing I am interested in doing is working with the parents. Like Danielle I believe it is really important that we focus on the link between parent and child. I think it is important that parents know what their children are doing at school and I think our project can help this a lot.

The one project I really want to do with Alexander Juniour is the book week! I think today children, teenagers and even young adults do not read enough. I think book week will be such a good chance to show the children why books are AMAZING! and they can learn to use their library properly (this was one thing the teachers were quite keen for us to do).

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Its all a bit more real now!

We had our first big project meeting of the semester this week and I think it went really well. It was nice to have everyone together and hear what each team had been up to. I was particularly impressed with how far the schools liason team had come along and am very excited about going into schools soon (it makes it seem a bit more real now). I am excited about all the ideas the fundraising team have come up with and cannot wait to see it all in action.

The creative team (which I am involved with)@ are constantly bouncing ideas off of eachother and tomorrow we are going to do a workshop with the rest of the teams which will be lots of fun and hopefully we will acheive some more ideas.

I think I personally want to stick with Chiswick House, even though currently its being refurbished. I think its good to work with difficult spaces and as long as we create an impressive world I belive the audience will accept the building work going on around them. Its going to be hard but I think we can do it!

The prospect of working with the second years is also on my mind. I think its a good opportunity for them to see what community theatre is and we can achieve. I helped out on the project last year and it gave me a real insight to what drama in the community is. Originally, I was going to do the directing module but after seeing the third years in action last year I realied that community theatre was really what I wanted to do.