I am now a few weeks into the third and final term of my 1st year of BA Acting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and what a journey it has been.
Undoubtedly, I have progressed so much and I’m much stronger as an actor and naturally more engaging to watch on stage; I’m making more creative and thought-provoking choices, delving deeper into characters and finding meaning and purpose in the seemingly mundane stuff, which is definitely a positive sign at this point in my studies.
The classes that I’ve been taking during trimester two are: movement, voice, theatre history, textual analysis with performance, and accents and dialects. I have made progress in them all as I’ve been encouraged by my teachers to make exciting and/or unexpected choices, in terms of theatrical oppositions and character development, and by actively and repeatedly utilising all the tools and skills that I’ve been gaining thus far.
I’m most proud of my work in my movement class because I’m tuning into technical skills that are vital for performance, whether that is for stage or screen, and which can indeed colour a performance in magical and captivating ways. For example, it is crucial to have an understanding of where the focus point of a scene is. In other words where is the audience’s attention and how do I, as an actor, control that? To accomplish this an actor must constantly be listening to whoever he is working with at that moment, be sensitive to the events within the scene and be open to change, but also willing to create it, if necessary. This is an important technical skill that I was completely unaware of some months ago. Henceforth, I can begin to refine this skill and explore the endless possibilities that can ensue.
Another key area of progression would be in my accent and dialects class. During the last term I starred in a play called ‘Middletown’ by WIll Eno in which I played a character with an American accent. To my surprise, despite having grown up watching tons of American TV, I was absolutely atrocious when I first began practicing the accent, and thus I decided to start speaking full-time with a standard American accent in order to get better at it. This meant that during all my classes, at home, with friends and even at the supermarket I was no longer from London but from the USA. Additionally, for a few hours each week, I worked closely with my friend from New York in order to identify any mistakes, correct them and hit the keys sounds of the accent.
Going full-time with this was an extremely fruitful decision because it forced me to truly embody an American, understand the melody of the accent, and develop the discipline and confidence to acquire a totally new skill. You wouldn’t think it but practicing a new accent for hours at a time is honestly very tiring and takes a lot of work as the mouth and tongue are completely unfamiliar with the muscularity and all the shapes required to truly sound authentic – and the North London accent is very, very different to the American one, obviously.
In total it’s has been about 8-9 weeks since I first started practicing my standard American accent, and although I’m not yet 10/10, I know it is just a matter of time before all this practice pays off – did somebody just say “Netflix series”..? In fact, my American friends have said that I’m around 7.5/10 overall which is significant for me given that I started at a minus 3 on the scale – I kid you not!
Above all, I’m especially proud of myself because I fought the fear and uncertainty that comes with undertaking any new project. Therefore this experience will always serve as a strong reminder that if I ever want to improve anything in life I have within me the capacity, discipline and perseverance to do so.
My overall plan for the next term is as follows:
- Wake up every morning at 6am to do work between 6:30-9am.
- Read 1 play and watch 3 films (English or foreign language) on a weekly basis.
- Workout 6 times per week (2 dance classes, 1 swimming class and 3 weight training sessions).
- Continue to practice French daily for least 45 minutes.
- Take singing classes weekly and practice singing 3 times per week.
- Continue to research the industry and be aware of what is generally going on (e.g. new writing, recently cast projects, etc.).
- Go to the theatre or watch 2 plays online at least twice a month.
- Work on accents by listening to audio or watching videos on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening.
- Practice movements from acrobatics for 20 minutes in the morning on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays
Evidently there have been some changes to the plan since my last update and review post because my objectives are slightly different this trimester, and my time table will additionally have to be modified too in order to accommodate these changes. Still, what I can say is that I’m looking forward to the challenges, growth and evolution that will occur in the coming weeks.
Wish me luck!