Actor/Director Lab 2011 Day 1

From 12 – 21 April 2011 at Unicorn Theatre, Tamasha ran the second Actor / Director Laboratory:  an intensive, subsidised training week for 18 artists (6 directors and 12 actors) which explored the relationship between the actor and director.  Participants came from a wide range of cultural backgrounds including Irish, Ind0-Guyanese, Welsh, Arab, Canadian, Southeast Asian, Black Caribbean, British-Asian, Pakistani, Australian and Indian  as well as British.

The Lab is part of the Tamasha Developing Artists programme.

Kristine Landon-Smith. Photo: Robert Day

Andrea Milde – Documenter/ Audio- recorder

“Wow! The roles of directors and actors seemed to have got reversed for a change. The directors had to perform and show their ideas and skills, and Kris and other participants (particularly the actors) gave the directors feedback. It seemed like a very interesting and useful exercise (or method) to put the directors on the spot and the actors had a chance to say what instructions they found helpful or not helpful. What might have seemed as rather challenging in the beginning, made more and more sense throughout the day. I don’t think I have seen that way of working with a mixed group of actors and directors before.

Another theme that caught my interest today was that Kris approaches (short-term) judgement (of a specific activity in a specific moment) as essential in the rehearsal room as actors want to know how they were doing. According to her, the aim of directors should be “to make the actors brilliant”, and with clear guidance of what seemed to work and didn’t seem to work, the team can develop a shared language that is accessible and available for all participants. I thought that this is particularly interesting as her directing practice is very much based on improvisation. Today it became quite clear that setting up an improvisation that is actually helpful for the actor/s, requires good skills and a good eye for detail.”

Jen Grant and Andrea Milde. Photo: Robert Day

Jen Grant – Director Participant

“Having seen the magic actors can create when supported I understand why Christine has an actor centred approach to her directing. They really are masters of their craft. Its only day one but already I feel like I have learnt so much about actors, directing and myself.

I witnessed the richness and possibilities that engaging with the cultural context of the actors, whether ethnicity or class, can bring to the room and to their performances. It was extraordinary to see how actors were transformed by inhabiting their grandmothers accent or native tongue and able to experiment and explore at a much deeper level than before. I realized how as directors we are often so focused on the text and final performance that we fail to invest enough in building confidence and trust in the rehearsal room. The irony being of course that time spent on that will save us a lot of time later on and give us better performances.

I learnt that it’s okay to do nothing. That by needlessly adding paint you can ruin a perfectly good picture. I also witnessed how it can be better to create the space in which an actor can find a specific emotion or character rather than just directing them to it. The first part of today, that involved lots of games, was challenging for me personally as I realized that I hadn’t ‘played’ for a long time. I loved watching others but felt I was holding myself back. Once I’d gotten over my fears I found it liberating to re-find that side of myself and want to bring it much more into my rehearsal process. Directors just as much as actors have a fear of ‘failing’ but i really felt today that it is only by exposing ourselves (through taking risks, being vunerable and going with our guts) to the risk of ‘getting it wrong’ that we have a hope of ‘getting it right’.

I’m excited to see what tomorrow brings.”

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