The Actor / Director Laboratory, day 5

 

Najan Ward (Actor participant):

“Wow, what a week. I got way more than I bargained for. The dynamic of directors and actors learning at the same time in the same space is what make this lab truly unique. Kristine uses improvisations to bring out the truth of a piece of text, I have learnt I need to less prepare my scenes so I can see what I can find naturally when I get it on the floor.

“I have no idea on how Tamasha conducted the selection process but it was spot on. I was surrounded by very talented individuals who were solely there to learn Kristine’s practice. I felt supported by the other actors when I was in scenes and felt comfortable when being directed by the directors. Another great aspect was all the different nationalities I got to work with, it really enriched the whole process. I got to see or be in improvisations in Spanish, Punjabi, Gujarati, Portuguese and French which took some of our scenes to a whole new level. When were working it seems very obvious to do but I have never seen it done before.

“In one week I feel like a better actor and have obtained a more natural approach to working with text. Thanks to everyone at Tamasha who made this possible and for giving me this opportunity.”

Julia Sandiford (Actor participant):

“It has been the most wonderful week – I have learnt so much and yet by now everything feels like a bit of blur. I know things will settle soon and I really believe I’ll be a much more open, honest actor as a result of this experience. What feels really empowering is that the things I’ve learnt and can use in future are very simple but can open a door to work that is so full and rich. It has been great to have a few flops but not mind as I might ordinarily and learn from them instead. I felt like all my usual defences were down and so I could be open about where to go next. It was great to stop when things weren’t working, admit that they weren’t, and then be given improvisations which shook everything up and moved the work forwards.

“I have had small revelations about the way I work – cheating naturalism rather than really listening to my partner or responding to the specific situation. I really hadn’t ever been aware that I do that before. Something that I used as a place of safety has actually been stopping me from fulfilling my actual potential. I want to start truly listening and hearing what is going on around me – it’s exciting!

“At the end of the day we worked in pairs with a director. In this final session I felt like it was evidence and a celebration of how far we have come this week. I loved working with Renu as I felt so free and trusting of her. Hierarchy between the roles of actor and director had disappeared – we both needed each other, instead of the actor praying the director will know all the answers and the director crossing their fingers that the actor is ‘talented’. Renu gave us a really helpful impro and with Silvana speaking in Spanish I began to truly listen because I had to to understand her.

“Thank you Kristine and Tamasha and every single person who I met this week – I don’t feel like I have to push or do it alone any more and I can’t wait to discover what will happen next.”

Silvana Montoya (Actor participant):

“The Actor / Director Laboratory has been a truly enlightening experience! I have learnt so much about acting, directing and the actor/director relationship. The possibilities are endless when there is total collaboration and trust and a mutual understanding that the actor and director are equals in the rehearsal room. Kristine’s workshop demonstrated, and allowed us all to experience, what happens when there is such collaboration: the director gets the best out of the actor because both are open in the knowledge that everything is already within the actor. This was very reassuring. It was also great to be reminded that without ‘play’ and accepting ‘the flop’, it is impossible to give everything as an actor.

“Another refreshing discovery for me was the use of the actor’s cultural context. This was something I’d never experienced, and now that I have I feel confident that this is invaluable in rehearsal and essential in making me more connected. I can honestly say that having my background acknowledged, celebrated and valued added a whole new dimension to my work.

“The actor/director laboratory fulfilled and surpassed all my expectations. I feel replenished. Kristine’s energy, passion and commitment to the work and to us has had an immense impact on me and it’s something I can now take away to noticeably improve my work.”

John Walton (Director participant):

“The final day of the laboratory. We started off with a clown exercise – individuals or pairs lip-syncing to a song that they didn’t know the actual words to. It was fascinating to see the level of sensitivity needed to keep with the audience. Those who ‘played too much’ were forcing their reactions to the rythmns and changes in the music, as opposed to letting themselves be suprised. It was these little moments of shock that we loved, especially when accompanied with a cheeky little nod to us.

“Then we had to present the group staging exercise – if ever there was a case of too many cooks spoiled the broth this was it! Five directors – one improvised scene. A recipe for disaster! Or at least continual compromise on the artistic vision… In reviewing the presentation, Kristine’s insistence on looking for the poetic as opposed to the literal was a great point. She removed all the little narrative strands we had authored into the scene and showed us what she meant by ‘sculpting’ with the actors. In the end, her version was simpler, distilled, and a lot more effective.

“In the afternoon we worked on our final scenes of the week. The change in the room’s atmosphere since Monday was palpable. There was a focused concentration, a real sense of collaboration between actors and directors. Perhaps because we were working together there seemed to be a lot less noise, much more creation. It certainly showed when the scenes were presented. It was amazing to think how far the quality of the work had come. We had all grown immeasurably. There was a lot discussed in the final feedback, but I think one thing really seemed to me the most striking. As I looked around the room I saw once again the group’s incredible mix of languages, nations and ethnicities. I realised that this group was a truer representation of London in 2010 than any I had ever been in before. That incredible diversity must be brought into our theatres.”

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