Well....it's after midnight....BUT I MADE A PROMISE!
I think I’m slowly realizing that I’m really bad at keeping up with this thing. I sit down to write a post, and then I somehow get distracted, either by a monologue I need to memorize or a friend knocking on my door. FINALLY I actually have some time to sit and try to explain what has happened in the past four days. OK, here goes.
This week basically consists of three things: “DNA”, Octopus’ing, and Improv.
This week I’m with a new director named Caroline. She’s one of the most experienced directors working at RADA, so I really respect her. I’m also with a new group of people. There are four people that were from my last group, four newbies, and five others that were here last week that I haven’t worked with yet. This group is really fun and imaginative, but I do really miss my old group. Maybe it was just because they were my first friends, but for some reason it’s just so odd without seeing them all the time.
This week, we’re working on a play called “DNA”, written by Dennis Kelly in 2008. It was written for a teenage cast working at the National Theatre here in London at a theatre conference. It’s really complicated, but I’ll try my best to explain it. OK, so there are eleven characters. The way it’s written, it’s not really gender specific, but the original names and genders of the characters are mentioned. It is written with four small acts with four little scenes each. The script is very technical; the first scene of every act always starts with two characters, Mark and Jan, whose lines are very short and fast paced; the second scene is always with Leah, the ridiculously talkative girl with the three page long monologue, and Phil, the one who eats while she talks at him, followed by Mark and Jan running in saying, “We need to talk”; the third scene is with the entire cast. It starts with Danny (a self proclaimed future dentist), Lou (the somewhat reasonable one), John Tate (the leader/bully of the pack), Richard (the other reasonable one, sorta kinda), and Brian (the one who’s always crying in a corner…literally). Eventually the others show up and the scene always ends in Phil speaking up and devising some sort of ingenious plan. The fourth and final scene of each act is the most poignant; it’s kind of mixed with who’s in it, but it’s mostly Leah and Phil.
The basic storyline is not very basic. These kids have killed this other kid, Adam. They were all playing around one night, and he fell down into a smoke shaft off the main road. The entire play revolves around these teens trying to cover up what they’ve done, but of course it doesn’t end well. It’s all about the hierarchy in a teenage world and how one bad decision can lead to having to make some really adult decisions that they’re not ready to make. Please read it!!! It’s so hard to explain, but it’s such a good play. This week, I’ve mainly been working with the character Leah. She’s so multidimensional that I’ve had a lot of time to really study her. On Wednesday, we did this really cool excersise called “Hot-seating”. All of the actors are in character for the entire thing. One by one, you walk up and sit in a seat surrounded by everyone else. The other characters ask you questions about your personal life, like when your birthday is or how your home life is. It was such a weird thing to do for an hour!!! You find yourself thinking your character’s thoughts and it becomes really real. I didn’t see my fellow acting friends; I saw Mark and Jan and Phil and John Tate. After that hour, we were all completely exhausted. Who knew something like that would take so much brain power. We decided as a cast to perform the play in the round, which means that there is no upstage or downstage (no front or back of the stage). You can play to any side. It’s a really interesting concept, but it works well for this bizarre play.
So like I mentioned before, we are all pretty exhausted. After three or four hours of intense scene study with Caroline, we do something very odd. So remember Katya? The short Jane Goodall I mentioned last week? Yeah, she teaches this class. We do two things in Katya’s class: Octopus’ing and dancing.
Octupus’ing is probably the most relaxing/freeing and yet exhilarating thing I’ve ever done. What you do is move from your core to the sound of music. You lie on your back and breathe for a while. Then you pretend like every limb’s movement begins at your core, whether it be your lower back or your “upper belly”. Then you slowly start you move your legs and/or arms uninhibitedly. This can turn into anything: dancing, crawling, slithering, walking…anything. The great thing about it is that EVERYONE’S doing it, not just you. There’s no need to feel awkward or uncomfortable. You eyes are closed the entire time anyway, so… Today’s session of Octupus was a little different because Katya told us to do it as our characters. Once again, I found myself lost in Leah and her odd brain. I really can’t remember much of what I did, but what I do remember is banging against a wall thinking, “Why won’t you move???”, sliding down the wall, then tucking into fetal position. After about 45 minutes of this, WE DANCE! Katya turns on some Louis Armstrong and we just groove to the jazz. It feels so great after Octopus. Everyone is laughing and having a great time…then it’s usually lunch.
This week, we did a lot of improv work. I’ve done some really intense scenes, like arguing the death penalty, arresting a hypocritical father for embezzlement, and voicing someone’s conscience. Doing a lot of improv for long amounts of time really helps bring people together as a cohesive group. We laugh a lot, but at the same we know when something’s serious and it’s really great to be able to explore that moment.
At this point, I'm feeling pretty sad. Today (in eight hours...ugh) is my last day at RADA...That feels so odd to say. My last day. I was talking with a friend of mine about this a little while ago. This isn't like Gov School where I'll see these guys in a few months. They live all over the place!!! Of course, I do wish I will, but I've had to learn that this really is one of those "Don't frown because it's over, smile because it happened" moments. It's been a dream come true to be here and work with some spectacular teachers and other young actors. OK, this sob session will have to wait until AFTER the last class...
Until next time friends! :)