Monthly Archives: August 2012

Shakespeare Masterclass, August 2012

Anshu Srivastava, Participant Director Observer

Over the Chekhov and now the Shakespeare workshops, I have observed how the actors are encouraged to be confident not through some self regarding sense of their own ability, but through an open and trusting interplay, one with the other. Once the actor is fully open to working in this way, then the text, however archaic, powerful or strange becomes immediate and human.

Watching Kristine work, one is both very aware of her experience and knowledge, but also of her constant flow of humour, creativity and sensitivity with the actors. Through the day, I began to think myself of improv scenarios, tweaks, adjustments, that I might bring to a first rehearsal but realising that this must be with the same open attitude to the actors as they are being asked to find with each other.

Ragevan Vasan, Participant Actor

As soon as the masterclass began I realised I was in for a challenging day. There was a lot to take in for one day’s work and being able to summarise everything I learnt probably wouldn’t do it justice. However, the workshop provided me with everything I wanted; a great insight into Shakespearean text. I feel more at ease with these texts and I am more confident with playing/ improvising around the text. Krisitine’s methods were completely new to me and I can’t wait to go back at some point and learn more.

I highly recommend it!

Caroline George, Participant Actor

I believe she (Kristine) is able to stretch each actor with almost immediate effect which is not easily found in our industry. I found her direct approach and the class in general to be a challenging, inspiring and rewarding experience which has motivated me to become a better actor, for which I am truly grateful.

Elena Procopiu, Participant Actor

Every actor improved dramatically in an exceptionally short space of time. Shakespeare is often viewed with suspicious reverence by actors, the language often jarring instincts, but Kristine managed to get each actor to make the words sound like they were truly their own. All first rehearsals should be like this.

Poppy Corbett, Participant Director Observer

‘Don’t come into the game prepared how to play – you will play differently with each person so you can’t prepare how you will play.’

This was my second workshop and even though I was just an Observer, I felt I have improved in understanding ‘how to play well’. Possibly, this has to do with feeling more relaxed in the environment of the masterclass, as I had already experienced one before. However, it is also to do with the fact that Kristine ingrains in you the importance of actors playing WITH each other, as opposed to pre-determining how you approach the playing: not to worry about yourself and how YOU look/play, but to focus on working out how to play with your partner. If more actors realised this on the stage, their work would soon become remarkable.

Even though the exercises and methods were same as the Chekhov workshop, I still leant a great deal from observing. This time, I could more readily see the vast improvement actors made on their speeches after Kristine worked with them. What interested me in particular was the moment in improvisations where actors jump from the impro to the text. Some actors seamlessly achieved this and retained the playfulness of their impro. Others found the line between their impro and text a little harder to cross smoothly; almost as though a panic alarm of ‘TEXT’ sounds before they jump into it. However, I was very impressed by seeing how much the actors improved their performances after working with Kristine and finding a new way into the text. There are always ways to work towards an engaging and fantastic performance.

I’ve always wanted to direct a Shakespeare, but have always felt somewhat daunted by it. Kristine spoke of that moment the director goes cold with fear and thinks ‘what do I do next?’ and I feel I would be thinking this all the time with Shakespeare! The density, the iambic, the complex language – where on earth to begin!? Following the workshop, I feel much more confident how to begin. Kristine suggested the iambic is almost the ‘icing on the cake’. When working on scenes, work from the actor themselves first and make them confident, then worry about anything fancy. Kristine reassured that sometimes it takes longer to work out how to improve something and what’s wrong – but don’t give up, try different things. The actor can be brilliant and it is the fault of the director leading them down the wrong path and giving up on them if they’re not.

Keeley Jo Jupp, Participant Actor

I really enjoyed my day at Tamasha. I was inspired to watch other actors and was happy to meet observing directors. When I performed my first scene, Kristine immediately helped me improve. I was able to perform the scene again and felt a huge improvement after having Kristine’s input. Again in the afternoon, when I performed scenes from Romeo and Juliet, Kristine helped improve the performance by giving us some improvisation techniques to work with and then finally placing the text over the top. I have never done this before and I was really impressed with my results. Kristine spent a lot of time with me on this and we tried a few different methods, which I am grateful for. I will take away some great tips from that day and would definitely go there again.

Jen Tan, Participant Actor

Ah, Shakespeare. That name conjures so many different thoughts and feelings for many people, especially actors. We’re all supposed to love and revere him and be able to recite huge swathes of his text on command. Only it doesn’t work like that. For me personally I feel like I was lured into loving his work at drama school where almost daily practice took away the fear and bolstered my confidence. Fast forward a few years and the fear’s been allowed to creep back in. It’s that Catch 22 – if you don’t get a Shakespeare job then you don’t have the experience to get a Shakespeare job so you don’t practice. And then it gets scary again. However good your acting it, somehow the text starts to get in the way again.

Earlier this year I saw the Marjanishvili Theatre from Georgia perform As You Like It at the Globe as part of the Globe to Globe season in Georgian and it was, hands down, the very best production of a Shakespeare play I have ever seen. The actors were really playing together well and looking after each other as an ensemble. It was funny and alive. There was no ego. This production completely represented the kind of theatre I want to make as an actor, and see as an audience member. I drew a lot of parallels between the way I saw these actors working and the way we’d worked with Kristine in the Actor-Director Laboratory. So when the opportunity arose to work with Kristine on a Shakespeare Masterclass, I jumped at it.

We were all nervous when we stepped through the door – a group of 8 actors that don’t know each other and 3 director-observers to watch. It was like the start of any rehearsal. A bit like the first day of school. Then Kristine led us in a series of warm-up games to start. Sound like any rehearsal? Well it’s not. At every stage we were asked why the game was beneficial, what the aim of it is in relation to acting. We were encouraged to play ‘well’, not be ‘playful’. That distinction is massively important and I feel is a big key thing which envelops this preliminary work. Kristine commented on the interplay between individuals and gently reminded us to play together and ‘not too hard’ when appropriate.

From games we moved on to text and looked individually at the monologues we had prepared. Using improvisations and exercises uniquely tailored to each individual actor, Kristine honed, tweaked and improved each performance, taking away the fear from each of us and bringing us back to ourselves.

For me personally the workshop served as a stark reminder never to stand still because you’ll end up looking backwards. By this I mean that Kristine saw my habits and forced me out of them. We had very helpful conversations about what they are and how dangerous they can be. She also reminded me of ways to avoid them and was incredibly frank about pointing out when I was slipping into them. If nobody points these things out to you, then how on earth are you supposed to go about working on correcting them?

The scene work we moved onto in the afternoon produced some really beautifully engaging snippets of scenes with real engagement.

We only scratched the surface of what Shakespeare could be during this day, but imagining what a full production could be if all the tiny moments we found were knitted together is electric and exciting. I for one would like to see it.

Grace Chilton, Actor Participant

Kristine talked about the moment when text is introduced as often being one of fear for the actor – I’m certainly always scared of speaking for the first time in rehearsals and often suddenly have a silly sense of responsibility to deliver what I think the text should be, rather than being brave enough to play moment to moment with a partner (whether the other player is the other actor, or the audience). Although I’ve still got a long way to go in terms of learning how to “play well” this Masterclass was very useful in discovering some bad habits, which gives me the chance to undo, re-learn and re-evaluate in future practice. The emphasis on learning how to play in a room with another person, and to a certain extent scrap “prep” work (as you can’t predict what the other player will bring to the room and what play will exist between you, as all text needs to come as a response) was so useful. It was great to work with Kristine as she created an environment in which actors could play well with each other; her feedback was specific, direct and personal and I think every actor was given a note they could take forward both in working on their Shakespeare text and also into future work. I enjoyed the way improvisation was used to marry the gap between the actor and the text; it effectively bought new life to all our speeches and scenes which was exciting to watch; seeing how other actors became less blocked as improvisation helped to breach the distance between actor and text, giving the text more life as it became more personal and powerful made it a worthwhile Masterclass.

Ellen Hill, Actor Participant

I like to play (or try to) so it is enjoyable to use games at the start of a workshop. Kristine is nice and genuine which means it is easy to listen to her and get advice on how to improve. I wasn’t asked to do anything stupid or ‘affected’ which again was good. I think I learnt/enjoyed as much, if not more, watching everyone else’s work than actually ‘acting’ myself.

Hassan Khan, Actor Participant

Best value for money master class an actor should attend, especially if you are looking for an intense, crash course experience. Loved it.

Anna Jordan, Participant Director Observer

A great workshop. The way Kristine works is really imaginative and her passion was infectious.  Since my experience at Tamasha I feel much more confident using impro in my rehearsal room, and I have learned some new games too. I am glad to be coming back in October to work on contemporary text so I can reaffirm everything I have already learnt.  Really pleased to have been a part of it. I hope to work with Tamasha more in the future.

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