Actor/Director Lab November 2011 Day 3

Photo by Anna Nguyen

Jonathan Young – Director Participant

“We had a frank discussion about our theatre visit – interesting to hear different perspectives on the show at the Bush (The Kitchen Sink), which then broadened into reflections on largely how ‘white’ much of mainstream theatre inBritain still is. What was clear is how crucial the work of Tamasha is (and such events as this Lab are) at developing alternative models and practices that reflect the full richness of global narratives for today.

The rest of the morning was a masterful introduction to clowning led by Mick Barnfather. Mick’s games and exercises were a door opening on to how the upside-down world of clown can help performers – by listening and responding to the audience, finding their pleasure to play, risking to go towards ‘failure’ and the unknown instead of staying safe and correct. Often a big challenge for many actors beginning this work, but the benefits are clearly evident as Ruby’s hilarious Who killed King John? showed.

Lastly, a powerful movement sequence, initiated by movement director Lawrence Evans and then taken up by Kristine. What is great to see is how such a scene of ‘organised chaos’ – people about to flee their homes across the border during the partition ofIndia- is worked on jointly byLawrence, then further carefully sculpted by Kristine. I findLawrence’s work on encouraging actors to engage their imaginations physically through the senses simple but really useful. The professionalism both on the part of Kristine and the actors is clear to see, as gradually a lovely ensemble dynamic, of urgency and tragedy builds – interweaving simple moments and encounters between the company with a climax of a central story emerging. The work is demanding of the actors but the attention to details and repetition eventually pays off.”

Photo by Anna Nguyen

Lowri Jenkins – ‘Buddy’ Director (Director Participant on April 2011 Lab)

“Returning to the Actor/Director Lab as a Mentor is a way to continue learning; reminding yourself and confirming your own development and vision as familiar scenes, gripes, and dilemmas are juggled by the current directors. As well as returning to well-known conversations, such as the state of ‘multicultural’ and culturally-representative theatre in Great Britainon Wednesday morning, different practical approaches are offered up. We spend the rest of Wednesday morning with Mick Barnfather on clown. I think the audience – and directors – had the most fun, being able to get in the mix and also observe how creating the right game and sense of play was the key to allowing actors to be comfortable on stage.”

Photo by Anna Nguyen

Hemma Rai – Actor Participant

“Our morning moved onto a clowning workshop with Mick Barnfather. I didn’t have any previous clowning experience and was a little concerned as to what to expect. It ended up being a fun and interesting session, I hadn’t played grandmother’s footsteps since primary school! We then broke down the game and examined what it was we found funny as an audience member. The session continued in this fashion. It seems that what an audience finds amusing is the person on stage failing and getting things wrong in their activity. One needs to be happy to a make a fool of oneself and let go of any inhibitions and yet not push the situation in any way. There needs to be an unspoken dialogue with the audience and an understanding of when to change or continue a particular action. It was a very good morning, working with a true professional.

The afternoon consisted with the movement director Lawrence Evans. The objective of the afternoon was to re-enact a scene from a past Tamasha production. The workshop started with some warm-up exercises – some yoga based. We then did some visualisation work. This whole process took us to life as a villager, preparing the way for the narrative: A scene of a lorry departing filled with Hindus, leaving their native village at the time of the partition ofIndia. For me this was a very powerful exercise, as I felt transported to my mother’svillageofSouthern Gujaratwhere I spent some of my childhood. I was connected to all my senses that evoked such a place through the mixed up smells of cow dung, incense and food all blended into that very particular smell that isIndia, to the warm dry earth beneath my feet. It really did set the mood. We then worked withLawrenceand breaking down the scene into different stages, the scene was filled with chaos and panic as people began to gather their possessions and get on the truck. Once we had a rough outline, Kristine came along and worked on it further. It changed quite a bit. Kristine changed the choreography, making use of the whole space and timed all the different sub-stories so the audience had a chance to take it all in. Sound effect was also added by the directors who drummed on the table tops to produce the sound of the lorry. This added intensity and urgency. I played a village lady running in a swoop warning the other villagers about the lorry. I did this in my mother tongue of Gujarati.

The scene was a success – a very good collaboration between Lawrence and Kristine. Lawrence so effectively taking us on a journey, getting us to feel like villagers and bringing shape and form to the lorry scene and then with Kristine fine tuning it all with her strong visual eye and sense of timing. It was a step by step process and I realised that it would have been a challenge for any director in Kristine’s position to have created such a scene from scratch. It was essential for all the background work to have been completed in order to bring a fresh eye to the work and for it then to be chiselled into shape. For me it was a lesson in the power of good collaboration and practitioners doing what they do best.

A good day and I felt it was important to bring different people in with different ways of working.”

Photo by Anna Nguyen

Khavita Kaur – Actor Participant

“It’s been a week since the Laboratory and I still can’t get over the experience. I still find my mind churning with thoughts, reflecting on the ‘AHA’ moments…of which were many!

I had these ‘penny drop’ moments…a few of them…actually many of them every single day. Working with Kristine, and simply watching her work was insightful. Like a Theatre Wizard she works her magic on a scene and it all just seems to come to life when the actor is honest, truthful and sincere and more importantly, when the actor is ‘being’ and not ‘acting’…

I need more of this for sure. There has been a seismic shift in my perception and I now need to get this into my bones…

It is refreshing to be able to bring as much of ME to a character than having to try and bring the character to ME

Kristine – a theatre genius!”

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