Acting Masterclass with Kristine Landon-Smith – Day 3

“Kristine knew that one of the participants – “a young handsome boy” – had been usually cast to play an energetic boy.

As soon as she said this, the boy blushed & agreed – both to the complement and the right guess.
However, immediately he added that he didn’t always like it. Kristine’s instinct was right. She said that he would be good with energetic roles but he would also be wonderful with playing the role of a gentle young boy. I don’t know how he felt – but I knew Kristine had given him a gift. A gift suited to him. A gift he embraced when he next went on floor. Whenever he forgets his gift, Kristine reminds him – and there he is on floor – “a young handsome gentle lovely boy.”

During the past couple of days, lots of big words have been abandoned & only the pleasure to play has been focused on. Through insights, improvisations & play, the participants have been playing the game Kristine think they might like.
Which has opened doors for the participants.
And a window for me.”
Neha Nahata – Observer

“Inevitably my reflection on this fascinating week so far is to some extent reflecting also on my experience of having been part of the Actor/Director Laboratory in November. This week is a great opportunity to re-visit Kristine’s approach and work through the process by engaging in a whole five days of playing and exploring, this time with a different and smaller group, and therefore in a more detailed way. I’m finding it really helpful to clarify and go deeper into things that came up during that week, and to further develop and consolidate my understanding through doing and observing in this context. By actually working through these processes again in an intensive way, it is helping me to marry what I learnt during the Actor/Director Lab with what I had learnt before then, have learnt since, and am learning now. As well as developing my own process, it’s so interesting to watch and be part of the development of each actor in a more sustained way than was possible during the Lab. The Lab was equally fascinating but a whole different experience, not least because of the dynamic of seeing and being part of Kristine working with the directors.

At the heart of it all though, is the simplicity of playing and connecting, and the notion of starting always from ourselves. Of course, rationally, we know to start from ourselves, completely ourselves unshielded, openly and truthfully, (and I don’t just mean actors working on a scene but all artists and creators). However, even knowing this, and knowing that having any preconceived or pre-learnt notion of how something is expected to be or ‘should’ be only holds us back, everyone at times has the temptation to use/return to what they have learnt or know will ‘work’ (either as an actor, artist or person approaching a given moment). Doing what we think or even know will ‘work’ may make something good but not extra-ordinary. By starting from ourselves, completely letting go of everything else, we find the keys to make what we are doing extra-ordinary. It is about really noticing and challenging the subtle ways we can at times slip into things that are safer as opposed to taking the risk of something murkier and less tangible. As Kristine said today, it is having the courage to ‘not know.’ It’s a fascinating journey and one we go on exploring and developing throughout our lives as artists, learning more and more to trust the intangible.

There is so much to say and document but just to give a sense of ‘shape’ to how this week is progressing: we are beginning to work more with how to bridge what we are learning with the next stage of working on/actually performing a monologue or scene in another setting (such as an audition or performance). The idea is that we can then take what we’ve learnt and apply it to a different scene, context, or requirement, trusting that we can set ourselves up through detailed steps and follow these steps through to create an extra-ordinary final performance. The specifics of these ‘steps’ are something we cannot know until we explore each situation or scene and then work through the process that is inevitably, and by nature as something ‘in creation’, ‘messy’ and uncertain.

Here’s to another two days of the course and to the future…”

Camila Fiori – Actor

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