Thursday, August 2, 2012

Early Friday, 3 August 2012'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! :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Weekend, 28-29 July, 2012

I actually wrote this one over the weekend, but I never posted it...Enjoy! :)

Yesterday (Saturday) was the first day that we didn't have classes. A lot of people moved out on Friday evening after the last class because they're done with the Young Actor's Summer School. I just assumed that all who came would automatically attend for at least two weeks. Others just left for the weekend to visit family and will be this tonight. Among these people is Lewis, my corridor mate. It's been awfully quiet without him around, but that's OK. I've been spending a lot of time with Pris. Yesterday morning, we both missed breakfast that's served here at the dorms, so we went on a quest to find scrumptious food in town. We ended up in the same strip mall where I ate at Yo Sushi. This time, there were SEVERAL little flea-market type stands set up. Now when I say "flea-market type", I don't mean just a couple apples and pies. These were huge vats of hot, delicious, and homemade food. There was ACTUAL Chinese food, Portuguese food, organic and gluten free stands, as well as jewelry and bookstores. I ended up buying Portuguese food, which, last time I checked, I've never had before. It was Pan Seared Potatoes and Cod with huge pieces of onion cooked down and this amazing mushroom sauce over rice. Needless to say, It was delicious!

After lunch, Pris and I ran into Allie, who was in my Romeo and Juliet group this past week. She's German and an amazing actress. We all went into this bookstore that's about a block from the dorms. I almost died when I saw their theatre and play section. It was ginormous! I ended up buying two monologue books and The Homecoming by Harold Pinter.

Me and Allie....and Michael Ball...and Imelda Staunton
That night, Allie and I went and saw Sweeney Todd on the West End starring Michael Ball as Sweeney. Yes, Michael Ball. As in the 10th/25th anniversary of Le Mis concert "Marius" Michael Ball. Whenever he would open his mouth to sing, I think I died a little inside of happiness. "Epiphany", which is probably my favorite song in the entire musical, was superb. I couldn't take my eyes off of him. All in all, the show is pretty haunting. Amongst the deafening train whistles and ridiculously strong and intense ensemble singing, "Swing your razor wide, Sweeney!", I kept wondering whether or not I'd be able to sleep once we got back to the halls. Even on the walk/tube ride back to the halls, I was checking every street corner for Toby or Judge Turpin and clinging onto Allie like a crazed child. I'll never forget my first West End show :)

Today was slow moving, but jam-packed. I woke up slightly late and went and jumped on Pris to get her up for breakfast. After breakfast, we woke up (OK, more like pounced on) Canadian Sam. We actually forgot which room he was in, so we had reception call him and tell him that he had "friends" looking for him. We ran up to his room and pounced on him. It's kind of gotten to the point where we all don't really care who's all in our rooms at one given time; we're all pretty nonchalant about personal space (aren't ALL theatre people like that?).

We hung all around Piccadilly Circus and Chinatown for the afternoon, just tube hopping to our hearts' content. We ate posh Belgian flourless cake and then had a sudden craving for we went. Believe it or not, British fast food is like a restaurant experience. The food is less salty with less fat; it wasn't really that bad! We were really tired after about four hours of roaming, so we came back to the dorms and met all of the new RADA students that just moved in. There's a lot of people from France this time around...interesting.

I'm suddenly feeling a little sad. I'm really gonna miss the few who left for good this weekend. They are so incredibly talented and I can't wait to see them again...sometime in the future :)

Until tomorrow friends!

Belgian chocolate, flourless cake....sooooooo good.  
Me and Pris :P

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday, 27 July 2012

Today's post is going to be a little different than my previous ones. Something amazing has happened in these past two days and I really want to share it with you guys. This might all come out a little jumbled because I’m so excited to finally put it down on…computer, so please bear with me :)

Since I actually became interested in theatre, I had always had this feeling like theatre was about something bigger than life. For some time now I've known that it's actually pretty realistic. Even those odd pieces with aliens or whatever have some realistic, human basis to them. I always say that theatre isn't about giving lines to a person and screaming "Action!” It's so much more than that. I think today it finally hit me exactly how much more.

Aren't we cute???? :D

These past two days were odd for me. We spent most of our time with Andrew, whom I love. He taught me something I wish I had learned ages ago. Now, because there are certain people who may or may not read this blog, I cannot go into much detail about what I had previously learned for theatre. What I can say is that is what not very useful information. I work best when I'm given specific instruction, which is exactly what I’m given here. When I say instruction, I’m not talking about blocking or anything like that; I’m talking about even before you touch a script. I’m so very thankful to have had an amazing acting coach who indirectly prepared me for the rigorous training I’m receiving here at RADA. She’s always been hard on me and would rarely compliment me unless I reached a breakthrough in my work; even then, she continued to push me to become a better actor and to study all sides of theatre, not just the script. Here at RADA, I’ve been taught a very special thing. It’s kind of hard to type out, so I’ll just give you the jist of what he said.

The bottom line: An actor’s gift is to embody stories, not characters.

As artists it is our job, our duty to relay information to an audience. Honestly, all a good actor is is a really good storyteller who knows how to communicate with you. Information is how we communicate with the world. Let the emotion happen; never force it or any emotional state. If you do so, you suddenly become that untouchable stock character that theatre-goers cringe to see onstage. The information should always be your first priority because that’s what an audience responds to. As human beings, we don’t like to be told what to feel, so why wouldn’t that also apply to a character?

In order to do this, Andrew talked to us about basic human need. I know I’ve personally been taught (at one time) that “to want” was the way you found purpose in a scene. What I know now completely changes that. Stakes must ne unbelievably high for an actor onstage. There must be a life-changing, life or death reason why you do or say something. You can live without something you “want”….but what about something you “have to have”?

Yeah, I thought it was odd, too when I first heard it.

Have to have. What the heck is that? It’s what you can’t live without. If that thing didn’t exist, you would be easily frustrated and annoyed. This is what allows for a show to be different every night because you have to have certain things sometimes and not others. Instead of playing “sad” or “angry” in a scene, use the text! That’s what it’s there for! The text is your basis for everything in a play, well that and good direction. Using “have to have’s” is way more useful for me because it doesn’t take a lot of effort. There are a lot of general have to have’s to choose from, so you make them more specific by saying, “I have to have________, so my strategy is (to) ________”. For example, I’ll use my scene in Romeo and Juliet. I play Nurse when she returns to Juliet to tell her of Romeo’s marriage proposal. I said to myself, “In this scene, I have to have calmness, so my strategy is to get Juliet to leave me alone”. Eventually, I shifted to, “I have to have understanding, so my strategy is to reassure Juliet that all is OK”. When I stand in the wings, I close my eyes and I hear Andrew say, “Feel the floor; it’s there to support you. What do you have to have and how do you get it? Remember, this scene isn’t about you or the Nurse or Juliet; it’s about the information you must give to everyone. What you have to say is important, and it will get muddled if you only play emotions. Open your eyes and stay connected. Go”.

I started the scene with no preconceived emotions and just had my have to have’s in mind. Without anything else bogging me down, the scene went beautifully! I was so ecstatic. As I watched the other groups, I realized: This is everything I want. I want this feeling every day. I have to have this feeling every day…and my strategy is to audition and audition and audition until I get into a school like (if not) RADA.

What freaked me out the most about this method of have to have (other than the fact that is somehow worked) is that you can use it with yourself. I know I have to have connection and love with/from others, so my strategy in life has become to make friends quickly and make sure we stay in contact. It's one of the hardest things in the world for an actor to turn the attention onto themselves and really check in with themselves. Just like with a script, my have to have's will keep changing as I keep's normal.

Andrew made sure that we understood how important it was for us to know our scripts (and to begin to get to know ourselves) backwards and forwards. Like I’ve mentioned before, he’s a very technical director, but when it comes to putting a show on its feet, he’ll wait until the very last second to block it. We didn’t stage our scenes until today, the last day of Shakespeare. I’m so happy that we didn’t because it made so much of a difference to have all of that undivided time to really understand our scenes, and our scene partners, like the back of our hand.

I'm not sure if you can clearly see Andrew (my teacher) in the back on the left side...haha
I know this all must seem confusing and unclear for the most part, but there’s just no other way to explain what I’m feeling. I feel so blessed to have worked with such an incredible director and group of 13 other young actors. I feel terrified of what this means for me when I go back home and return to my other theatre homes. I'm anxious about my future as a whole and how I think this experience has helped me make some decisions about what I want...what I have to have. We might not know each other on an extremely personal level (like what happened at Governor’s school), but I certainly know/respect/love these actors as the amazing actors that they are/have become. There aren’t words to describe all that I’ve learned in just five short days…It’s very hard to think that I have an entire second week for Contemporary Works. What’s funny in all of this is that Andrew didn’t just teach us Shakespeare. He taught us how to work with ANY script and, more significantly, ourselves as actors and as people.

So, with one week down and one to go, I’m feeling more than bittersweet….

I'll just leave it at that for now.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

So I lied...looks like this one is just as the as the previous one. Oh well, I'll sleep when I'm done.

I think I officially don't like having six classes plus an auditioning talkback in one day.

The morning was odd because we ended up doing our "warm up" with the group that's doing Twelfth Night. None of them had ever done Andrew's weird standing thing before, so they were pretty freaked out. I really felt more centered today; when I act sometimes, I rock back and forth on my heels or sway from side to side. Andrew's warm up had rid of that because it forces your body to relax and puts the pressure in the right places. I felt really special this morning because Andrew looked over to me and said, "Well done, Tiffany! You're posture is brilliant today. Most people have their breakthroughs with this after a few days; I guess somebody came to work today. Great job." I just about died. To hear a well known actor and director compliment me on something I had been having troubles with for a while made me feel really good. I couldn't stop smiling for a good five minutes. After warm ups, we delved straight into sonnets and did a similar exercise with them as we did with our Romeo and Juliet scenes. We partnered up and went through a sonnets slowly, then we switched partners and did them in our own words. Then my favorite part: Sonnets Anonymous.
It's exactly what it sounds like.
We all sit in a circle of chairs and one by one, in no particular order, stand up and "do" our sonnets. I say "do" because Andrew's not very keen on reciting sonnets; their pieces of literature like anything else and should be treated as so, so we "do" them (he's also not too very on "perform" brings on a weird connotation). It was so great, because everyone in my group is so good! Something about sitting with thirteen other actors who are my age and knowing that we all support each other and want the best for each other is gold. After each sonnet, Andrew would say something encouraging and sweet, then the room would fall silent until the next person stood up. He said I was lovely :)

After Sonnets was Dance with Darren. I remember mentioning yesterday that we were going to learn a court dancing duet today...well, that's exactly what we did! Well, first we actually danced around foolishly for a bit, mostly because Darren wanted to for himself so we all just sort of joined in. Then, we actually got into the dance. The dancing is relatively simple: single step, single step, double step (actually three steps, but done in double time), single step, double step, then repeat. We all got bored, so Darren taught us a drunken peasant dance. His words. ;)

Then we ventured onto Physical Performance with Katya. We did some Alexander work, which is really useful for balance, concentration, and feeling grounded. I did a lot of this at Governor's School last summer, but we learned how to do the exercise solo (instead of with a partner like we usually do). It's all about think "heavier, longer" as Katya put in. For example, you're laying on your back. You lift one leg slightly off the ground and think "heavier, longer, heavier, longer". Soon, your leg will actually feel slightly heavier then when you first lifted it off the floor and even longer. Then you lower your leg and do the same with your other three limbs. After you've done this, you roll over on your side in fetal position and get on your knees to slowly stand up. When you start walking, you literally feel like you're walking on air and everything feels lighter, relaxed, and "set" correctly. You don't have to try to set your shoulders back because they already are. You don't have to worry about any tension because there isn't any. It's fascinating how powerful the mind is that something like this actually works. I love it!

After lunch, we went to Stage Fighting with Phillip, the man who scares the daylights out of me. We worked on contact fighting techniques: hair pulling and strangling. What's really great about stage fighting is that you can even scare yourself by how realistic these things can get without someone actually getting hurt. You fling yourself around and scream and gasp for air and you feel like others watching are holding their breath in anticipation to see whether you're OK or not in the aftermath (It's great when those people are your actual classmates!). 

Today I had two new classes called Word Play and Shakespeare's Words. 

Word Play was awesome! We talked about what makes up a word and how different consonants and vowels make you feel certain things; m's and n's are more sad; ooh's and ah's are sounds of people with passion or in love; b's, k's, sh's and t's are striking and come with a lot of emotion (go figure--look at swear words). We staged fights where the only thing you were allowed to use as words were consonant and vowel sounds. Then we played a game of zip, zap, boing. OK, quick rules: you stand in a circle; zip passes to someone next to you, zap passes to someone across the circle, and boing sends "it" in the opposite direction. Instead of using zip, zap, and boing, we used Shakespearean insults; each person made up their own from a list that Michelle gave us. So for me, if I wanted to pass to someone next to me, I'd say gleeking; across the circle, fen-sucked; opposite direction, clotpole. Yes, I just said gleeking, fen-sucked clotpole. Then the REAL fun happened. We were split up in two and stood on opposite sides of the room West Side Story Style. Then, we would go up one by one to the opposite group and do our best to diss them with our phrase. It became this huge ordeal with people shouting, "OOOHHH YOU GOT BURNED!!!" and "What did you just say to me?!". It was so much fun, mainly because after we finished we were all buddy-buddy again. 

Final class was Shakespeare's Words. In this class, we were given lists of words that Shakespeare had invented and were told to make a modern scene using all of them. It's ridiculous some of the words that didn't exist before Shakespeare came along and invented them. Words like excitement, varied, well-known, embrace, fashionable, freezing, lack luster, moonbeam, droplet, and unearthly. My group's scene made no sense so I won't even attempt to try and describe it because I would inevitably stop making sense. Our other group scene I will describe! In this one, we were given some Shakespearean insults from his plays. Our scene took place in a bank during a robbery and a Shakespearean acting company (who had just happened to walk in when the robber stopped by) is being held hostage. The only way they knew to insult the robber was through saying things like, "Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood" and "Scratching would not make worse a face like yours". Eventually, the robber got tired of this and just let them go. It was a really fun scene to do because everyone was so into it. It was basically Shakespearean improv. No one knew what they were going to say except the Shakespeare lines, so it was pretty hilarious seeing what people came up with. Sam, a Canadian friend of mine, was in a scene where he suddenly screamed, "'Your brain is as dry as the remainder biscuit after voyage, thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter!'" then he paused and followed it with "That's sad, Zed. THAT'S REAL SAD." 

As if my day wasn't jam packed ENOUGH, we then had an hour session to talk with the RADA teachers about auditioning for drama schools. Most of the stuff they said was pretty useful, like how to apply there and how to choose a successful monologue. 

So now I'm here. In my dorm. Tired out of my mind. Quite literally actually.
My body isn't very tired, but we use our minds ALL DAY for EVERYTHING as I've already mentioned. I went out to dinner a while ago, but came straight back to write this. 

 Until tomorrow friends :)
Some of my friends (left to right): Lewis, Alex, Canadian Sam, Sophie, Alais, Raphael, Chris, and  Gorgie

Tuesday evening (sorta), 24 July 2012

Note: I'm so sorry everyone!!! I was so exhausted last night that I didn't get to finish yesterday's post.'s that post. Because of this, my post for today won't be as detailed, but I'll try my best to describe it without tiring myself out entirely like last night. So again, this post was meant for Tuesday, not today....

Today, there seemed to be one general theme running throughout each and every class: Stay grounded.

I'm so very exhausted at the moment because of these two little words for many different reasons. For one, we spent a lot of the day standing and "enjoying the floor" as our director, Andrew, calls it. We began Scene Study this morning with 30 min of standing still and grounding each body part. Now, please keep in mind that this class lasts until lunch, which is around 12:45; so for three hours or so we're in this one class. Andrew would say, "Pretend that your toes are as long as a hobbit's and try to fully extend them" or "lengthen your occipital lobe but elongate your face" and we would all do so. Then he would follow it up with, "Now reconnect and engage with your classmates. See them" and we would all look up to look at each other. This seemed to go on for forever, but after the half hour we all felt like the floor was somehow softer and more supportive than before.

After our "warm up", we began walking around the space, testing different paces and body positions. Andrew loves this exercise because he says that every nationality has their stereotypical posture and walk. We would walk with our bellies leading us and we were Spanish; chest leading, American; forehead and toes, British; pelvis and ankles, Italian.
 We then received our short Romeo and Juliet scenes. We learned a really cool way of how to analyze a scene without emphasizing or focusing on emotion, but rather the information. He had us separate each thought with a slash(/) and put a ring (circle) around each word that lended itself to information, not emotion. Andrew has this thing about never letting his actors actually read from their scripts; he'd much rather the actor speak the lines to his scene partner only when they both have eye contact i.e. look down at the line, look up, get eye contact, and say the line. It was really tedious at first; since we didn't know the lines by heart yet, we were constantly looking up and down. After a while, it became more natural and fluid, so that's when Andrew had us drop the scripts and say the lines in our own words. He told us he was looking for "real questions and answers, not playing emotions". "Tell me, don't show me", he said almost every time someone started to be over-emphatic or too emotional; "I've lost you, come back. I'm looking for sincerity and realness and I don't see it yet; It's all there, I know it is". He pushes us to really see our flaws as good things. "Use your flaw and make it work". We all saw a difference in our performance. I really enjoyed this class, mainly because Andrew is just so odd that it works.

After lunch, we had Dance with Darren aka "DR. Dance". Darren is so flamboyantly fabulous that just his presence brightened my day. He taught us about Jacobean period court dancing. [Interesting tidbit: the phrase "having the upper hand" originated from this period of dancing because men would have women place their palms on top of theirs, so while the man was leading on the left, the woman could very easily become uninterested in him and lift her hand easily to get away from him. Isn't that weird?] We learned a group dance that would've been done in Italy at the time and tomorrow we'll learn duet dancing.

Sonnets with Andrew. He is one smart guy, but just REALLY weird. He's a father of two with a 14 year old ballet dancer son and a three year old daughter who asks the darndest things like, "Why don't actors make as much money as mummy?". He loves laughing at his own jokes and has told us (and proved to us) that he has two sides: flippant and intense. We've seen both in just two days of classes with him. He's SOOOO good at directing because he focuses a lot on technique, which I love! Today we talked about an entirely new concept for me: technically analyzing a sonnet. Now which Shakespeare's plays, I'm pretty good at understanding the special stuff, like how if a character is speaking in prose instead of verse they're either going insane or it's a poignant moment. Turns out a sonnet is actually composed of two quatrains (a quatrain: four lines of iambic pentameter verse)--which makes an octave-- that introduce a story or a theme and then develop it, another quatrain that introduces a crisis (most of the time having to do with death, abandonment, decay and/or confusion in love), and then a couplet (two lines of iambic pentameter verse) that somehow resolves the crisis introduced in the aforementioned quatrain. This equals the 14 lines that make up a sonnet. JEEZ! I wish I knew all this a couple of months ago! Now my sonnet that I used for the Shakespeare competition (Sonnet 149)  makes so much more sense because it follows this exact form. Tomorrow we'll actually delve into our own sonnets that we've all memorized. Can't wait to tell you guys about that.

Next we had Voice, not with Budgie but with a new teacher named Adrienne. Now please understand, by this time in the day, we're all pretty tired. There are no elevators in either RADA building-- the one we go to for lunch is a little ways down the block, where the refectory (cafeteria for us Americans) is on the 5th floor. It might not sound like that many flights, but trust feel the pain after a while. Adrienne has a very different style than Budgie. We stood for entire class, breathing and practicing some Tai Chi. It was more like a meditation class than a voice class. By the end of it, everyone was more than ready to go home...

Then we met Katya....Oh Katya...

Katya looks like a more petite Jane Goodall. She's so sweet and giving and makes everyone feel loved and appreciated. She loved joking around with us and randomly starting improv scenes just because someone became unfocused. Katya taught our last class of the day: Physical Performance. I knew this was some sort of movement class, but this British movement class was very different from what I'm used to. We did a lot of laying on the floor and breathing, which might sound a bit weird but it was actually really helpful after a long day--most of us fell asleep for about five minutes. She spent a lot of time talking about using our minds for more than just thinking and how theatre is basically imagining things that aren't true and making them true. We started imagining breathing in with your toes and breathing out with you knees; breathing in with your knees and breathing out with your hips. Believe it or not, the mind can do some crazy stuff. We then rolled on the floor for a bit so that we could rid of all our inhibitions and just be silly and crazy around each other. I think her class is my second favorite, my first being those with Andrew.

After classes, a couple of us decided to go out for dinner. We literally walked a six-block radius before realizing we had actually gone in a circle. Eventually, we split into two smaller groups and I ended up having a very odd version of fish and chips. After that, we went a got a huge jug of Phish Food ice cream and ate it while people watching then came back to the dorms and chilled for a bit...and by I bit I mean well after 1 am (I personally went to sleep at midnight because I talked to my mom on the phone for a bit).

OK...well now I shall start on TODAY's posting....Until some point in the near future :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday morning, 24 July 2012

First mini-morning post!

So in the mornings here, I don't have much time to write a new post, but I thought I might try posting a semi-mini post until this evening when I get back to my dorm.

In my first post to this blog, I remember mentioning my friend who lives across the corridor from me, Lewis. The way our halls are set up, two rooms make a little corridor with a bathroom in between the two. I also remember mentioning with Lewis that I wasn't sure how the bathroom situation was going to work. I mean, he's a great guy...but a guy. We might have to have a talk about this...

Enough potty talk. Currently this morning we're making plans on maybe seeing a film tonight at the cinema (I feel so weird saying that, "film at the cinema") or maybe seeing Sweeney Todd on the West End. Either is fine with me. I mean, how often does this opportunity come along to have West End less than a ten minute walk from you or having the cinema just down the way a bit.

In about 5 minutes I have to leave for RADA, so I have to get going. We get our two person scenes today for Romeo and Juliet-- so excited! Until tonight friends :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday, 23 July 2012


Well, today was jam packed to say the VERY least. First, let's get logistics out of the way.

There are officially 54 young people, ages 16-18, attending this current session. Of that 54, I'm in a group of 14 for Exploring Shakespeare week. Along with a core Shakespeare Scene Study class, I'm also taking Voice, Stage Fighting, Basic Principles, and Sonnets.

Had a very full day of classes, with no real sort of introduction session. My play I'm concentrating on is Romeo and Juliet. Our director, Andrew, is a fairly well known teacher and director here in London. He's a teacher at RADA and knows a lot about his craft. For our first scene study class with him, we mainly talked about what makes a story. We then split into pairs and created a small scene with three tableau's placed throughout. We had to create a storyline containing three things: how we first met this person (first tableau), your bond with that person (second tableau), and how you left/have to leave that person (third tableau). Now, being teen actors, we all assumed that we were going to choose easy relationships, like boyfriend/girlfriend or mother/daughter. We were all pleasantly surprised that that wasn't necessarily the case. All of the tableaus were very realistic and nothing was really blown out of proportion. My partner, Garima, and I were "a woman injured in a car crash" and "her caretaker"; our third tableau (how you leave the person) was her holding my forearm while I turned away from here, symbolizing my injury healing and her not having to work for me anymore. Surprisingly, our director made all of us actually make a scene from that third tableau and pushed us to make decisions in the scene we weren't planning on making.

After that, I had Voice with Zabajad, but we all just call her Budgie. She was obviously well versed in the body and its functions. We did some voice resonance work and learned a song from Ghana that I had actually learned when I was in New York for the ESU Shakespeare Competition...I do wonder if they stole it from Budgie or not ;)

The entrance to RADA
After voice was Basic Principles with Caroline. We basically talked about the basics of how to tell a story onstage. We used an exercises Caroline called "WWWWH Park", meaning who you are, what you're doing, where you are, when you're doing it, why you're doing it, and how you're doing it. We pretended to walk into a park knowing WWWWH the entire time. It soon became clear that having all of this in mind was REALLY useful, even if you were just playing a silly game. I've always worked with the what, where, and why, but not so much the others.

We then had Stage Fighting. Oh God.

The teacher, Phillip, to the say the very least was like a modern version of Snape from Harry Potter: long, black hair (but it was tied back), vague, and had a lot on his mind. He was not afraid to tell us what we were doing wrong because he knew right away that we were all terrified of him. I mean, he was a great teacher, but was very tall and menacing. We learned the basic slaps and punches and how distance between you and your partner is your best friend in a stage fight. I learned about something called the knap (silent k), which is the sound you associate with a hit onstage.

The last class of the day was Sonnets with Andrew. We didn't actually work on the sonnets, but we wrote limericks and quatrains and how poetry "form" shapes our world. Here's my limerick:

When first attending a school like RADA,
you'll soon realize that you're quite a goner! (pronounced with a British accent "gonuh")
With accents galore
you're much in store,
for British accents are much harder ("hahrduh")

WELL! Besides my classes, I've met some great people. There's this crazy chick named Priscilla (everybody calls her Pris, though) who I've become really close with. She goes to school in Britain, but is from Chicago so she has a really weird bi-accent (is that a word???). Actually, a lot of people are like that here. Born in Germany but raised in London, born in Somalia, raised in London and Mumbai. It's intense. We all went to dinner in this little strip mall down the road from our dorms called Brunswick, where I ate at a really cool sushi place that has one big round table with a conveyor belt built in; when some sushi or yummy things comes by on the belt, you grab it and eat it and you pay afterwards based on the color of the dish that your food is on. It was so good and not that bad on you buck either.

I've suddenly realized how American I really am here. Everyone here makes fun of us few Americans and how we don't understand British sayings. During Basic Principles, everyone burst into laughter when I didn't know what "tig" was, which I now know is basically a more complicated version of your basic tag game. Everyone has a European accent, which is kind of fun cause they help me with my British accent.

All in all, it was a successful day. Until tomorrow friends!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Hello all! Welcome to my blog! I thought it'd be nice to keep everyone at home posted on what's going on across the pond at RADA and at the Fringe Festival in Scotland. This is going to be a really chill sort of thing. As you'll probably tell from my first post below, I'm going to share about everything, not just the theatre stuff, if that's ok with you! Please feel free to comment or send me an email and I'll try my best to respond ASAP. It's my goal to stay as connected as I can!

It's currently 4: 45 pm here in London; mid 60's and sunny! Landed a couple of hours ago...Heathrow was a nightmare! With the Olympics about to start, all of the Olympians and judges and escorts were swarming the airport, so it was more than hectic. Thankfully, a friend's dad was there to help me get to Canterbury Hall (my dorm). Beforehand, we went to a little sit down restaurant in Kensington where I had the heartiest, most delicious chicken and russet potatoes, British style. So good, but so filling; very different from your average plane food. After that, we drove over to my dorm. I checked in, put down my bags, and immediately walked over to see RADA, about a ten minute walk. Lemme tell you, it's gorgeous. On one side of the block, it's totally renovated and modern stuck in between old English-style architecture; on the opposite side, it's almost heavenly, with two angels holding a banner with "Royal Academy of Dramatic Art" engraved in stone with a pair of old, creaky wooden doors serving as an entrance. This doesn't even seem real.
So here I am, getting used to my new home for the next two weeks. My room is pretty small, but quaint. Within ten minutes of being here, I met Lewis from across the hall. I had just assumed that they would separate girls and guys by floors, but I guess I was wrong. He seems really nice, but I'm not sure how it's going to be sharing a bathroom with him...
I honestly don't have the energy nor the inclination to unpack ANYTHING. So I just found myself wandering out into the hall where I met another RADA student, Andrew, who was talking with Lewis. They immediately pulled me into their conversation, and before I knew it we were talking about anything and everything: Shakespeare, stage combat, our schools back home, hobbies, etc. I love that instant connection you feel with theatre people. It's honestly like magic. One minute I was all alone in my room, arguing with myself about whether I should sleep off some jetlag or not, and the next I'm with two really great actors who are just as anxious about these next two weeks as I am. I haven't met anyone else quite yet, but I know I will soon. I'm currently debating on what I should have for dinner. Looks like there's a great little Indian restaurant on the corner I might go to...

Until tomorrow friends! First day of classes!!!! :D