The other day I attended two workshops at the Tricycle theatre which I found to be highly relevant and informative. The first workshop was run by Tinuke Craig (Associate director Gate theatre) and it focussed on working with Shakespearean texts and how to go about breaking it down in order to perform it effectively. The second workshop, led by Stephanie Street (actor/writer), was about authentically telling a story that wasn’t our own.
In terms of working with Shakespeare’s plays, there were some keys points that Tinuke shared to give us an insight into what a character is feeling and their intentions:
- The sounds of vowels in the text
- Harshness/softness of consonants
- Endings of lines dictate nature/tone of monologue
- Use of punctuations to indicate speed, intensity and urgency
In 2013, I performed ‘Hamlet’ as part of the RADA Youth Theatre Company where we spend quite a bit of time understanding the language and its significance. However, this workshop was a good opportunity to refresh my memory and to realise that I don’t need to be a scholar or historian to appreciate Shakespeare’s work. Moreover, Tinuke highlighted that it’s completely normal to not be infatuated with his plays and that not every actor has to take this route. Personally, I want to effectively embody characters in Shakespeare’s plays so expanding my knowledge in this area is fundamental in the future.
During Stephanie’s workshop, the group and I engaged in different activities that involved sharing a personal story and retelling someone else’s as if we were them. The purpose of this was to help us identify specific things that truly make a story credible and moving. For me, what was important was the idea of settling into a character, finding the truth in their story and portraying that. It’s a little difficult to explain but it’s something that I shall be exploring in the coming months. Over the last week I have been preparing for an audition so I’m going to use this information as I practice . Hopefully that translates to a stronger performance and actually getting the part!
Other advice I found useful included the suggestion to contact casting directors regularly and be aware of what is new on TV or on stage; study a particular period/writer/topic once a term to get secure knowledge in this area; and practice as much as you can by attending classes, workshops and seminars. For anyone in London looking to improve in acting here are some places to gain experience and meet creative people:
- The lyric Hammersmith
- National Drama Student Festival
- Young Vic
- Local youth theatres
- Surviving actors seminars
There we have it. The growth and progress continues.
Watch this space!