Ok where do I begin? I have worked with Kristine on numerous occasions but this time I had a week whereas on the other occasions I was only really just skimming the surface of her practise. Somewhere along the way to me becoming an actor Mr Thinker came into my life. Serious training, character work, what’s my motivation, text analysis, am I good, am I doing it right, do the audience like me etc came into the melting pot in my pool of thoughts. There was a time when I wanted to become an actor because it was fun and I enjoyed it. So the evident word of the week to “play” stuck out for me like a sore thumb. I was able to play openly with the careful guidance of Kristine to bring the simplicity of acting back. But it wasn’t easy. I thought that as I had worked with Kristine’s practice before I would fly. But as soon as the first words of Claudio’s “Ay, but to die” from Measure for Measure came out of my mouth something instantly happened where I wasn’t myself which really is 90% of my strongest asset as an actor. I know what you’re thinking. You’re an actor. It’s your job to be someone else! But surely to become someone else you need to first become comfortable with yourself? With your identity and culture! Working this way is enabling me to see how I can use this work in the profession to become clearer and more concise when it comes to making choices and approaching work. I need to find a way in so that it works for me. An organic process where I can always go to if I find myself lost in this ridiculous 1 dimensional profession. Mr Thinker your time is up! Mr Play you are needed immediately!
Siu Hun Li
Having heard a lot about Kristine’s method of play and improvisation I was curious to understand how this practice worked and how I could use this to influence my work as an actor. I have already used the word “work” in my opening sentence twice and this idea of “working” to analyse the text, make decisions about the character and generally over think things seems to be more harmful than helpful in our journeys as actors. It’s Kristine’s emphasis on play and finding the pleasure to play and make those discoveries naturally and truthfully that unlocks the actor and opens them up to a much more free way of (dare I say) “working.”
The group is big enough to be able to learn so much from one another but small enough for Kristine to work on a very individual basis and there is a real focus on the individual incorporating all aspects of the actor including cultural background which in many other training courses is not as heavily explored.
Today I looked at a piece from Chekhov and original writing. It’s a challenge to go straight into text and be good which is often what is required in an audition situation. Using the technique that Kristine has shown us I find that I am able to find a way in with a carefully set up improvisation that provides me with the right conditions that I need to naturally go from being off the text to on and use the totality of myself rather than an idea of who or what the character should be and just play, play, play, PLAY!
The last day of the Acting Masterclass has come around very fast. It has been an eye opening experience for this “wanna be” director. As someone who has never been to a workshop like this I wasn’t sure what to expect so I had started the week with some trepidation but also lots of excitement about watching how Kris works with actors. She didn’t disappointment, her commitment to her craft, her pleasure in playing and her fearlessness has been truly inspiring. Today as the actors run through the texts that they have been working with all week I can see the big steps that they have taken under her guidance. There is more freedom in their work, an aliveness and connection with themselves, the other actors and the audience (in this case me!). The lessons I am taking away from the week are: bringing one’s culture, identity and idiosyncrasies to the fore is critical in bringing out the best in people. One has to be very serious about playing, in fact it is an art form itself and when people let themselves play they become more present to the moment, it’s as though the natural generosity that exists in us comes out to play. I have seen this time and again this week in the way that the actors have supported each other in all that we have done. Watching the way that Kristine uses and sets up the physical space and her intuition have also been fascinating, these two things seem to bring the actors to the truth of what is needed in the text. Once they have relaxed they can turn their hand to anything from Chekov to not very well written TV scripts and engage an audience.
If I ever decide to take up directing I will pay closer attention to the set up in the rehearsal room, making it light and playful and really finding out more about the characteristics of the actor. This commitment to the actor is what will make a great piece of work. I have a feeling these lessons can be applied to any situation in life.