Time to get political

I try to stick to theatre and art in this blog, and its various inspirations. I can not do that right now. It is time to get overtly political. Time for some Canadian politics. Earlier this week, Alberta held an election for leadership of the province. As of the week-end, polls were showing the right-wing WildRose party in the lead, and the 40-year reign of the PCs in that province looked poised to fall.

As they sometimes do, the voters surprised everyone, and re-elected the PCs to a strong majority - 61 seats - while WildRose saw only 17. Canada breathed a sigh of comparative relief; bloggers and twitter lit up with otherwise left-leaning minds commenting how happy they were for a PC win, something you don't expect ever to hear.

So this morning, reading The Globe And Mail, I was made ill to read Ms Smith's latest.

Now that the WildRose were unsuccessful on their first attempt, they plan to change their policies. Okay, seems like a decent idea, right? Everything needs a fresh perspective after a loss. Sure. But Ms Smith campaigned on core beliefs including smaller government, ignoring climate change (well, arguing that it is still disputed scientifically...which amounts to ignoring it) and personal liberties. She had candidates making racist and homophobic comments in the media, never censured them. Now, upon losing, Ms Smith is thinking of "re-evaluating" their policy on climate change and other contentious issues. Pardon me, but re-evaluating? The party campaigned for several months on this right wing agenda, alienating the rest of the province. This is clearly something they believe heartily in. But a swift turn of the page to the day after losing the election, and Smith is ready to reconsider. Funny; a certain Mr Harper had similar right-wing views some years ago in Calgary. . . but he was deemed too extreme, and toned it down to get elected. Now that he is elected with a "mandate from the Canadian people" he is back to his right-wing tricks, dismantling the very institutions that define our country. Ms Smith appears to be taking a page out of Mr Harper's playbook.

Don't be fooled, Alberta. Ms Smith, it seems, will say whatever is required to get elected, and then do what she wanted all along. Please, have long memories on this one. Please.

Don't Be Too Well Behaved

Our regular voice coach, Adrienne, was away to attend a funeral, so had Katya Benjamin for our class. Although Katya is primarily on RADA staff as a movement teacher, she (as she told us) has a fascination with voice. She teaches in Alexander technique, and uses it (as Alexander did) to free the natural speaking and singing voice.

All our exercises began with looking for ways to align our bodies not through telling them what to do, but asking what they need to do to free the voice. So we did the stand/sit from a chair exercise, imagining pusing down to get up, and forward and up to sit down, in varying degrees of exaggeration. Adding text to this was quite surprising; I used a Goneril soliloquy I have known for ages, and managed to surprise myself a couple times through this simple physical action. We then went on to look at aligning; we went around the class and looked at each person's body, then Katya made adjustments to us and had us speak. We did this one by one, watching the change in others; it was remarkable to see and hear the difference a couple simple physical adjustments could make in a voice. For me, pressing into the floor while allowing the body to float up really works; I can make more space in my rib cage, and even more between my shoulders than I have built up in the past. This centered my voice to my body quite significantly.

We then did a great exercise for the spine; with a partner, one lying face down, the other first holds a hand with light pressure on the sacrum, feeling the hips and pelvic bone relax. As we did this, I felt almost a separation of my legs from my body, so it felt like they were attached only by tendons. Then the partner takes their fingers and goes up the back, feeling one vertebrae at a time, until they reach the top. Then the one lying down gets up and walks about the room. I felt an immense lightness but confidence in my movement after this, and my voice was placed at that nice centered location. I want to do this exercise every day.

Finally, we did the "octopus" where you lie on the floor, fully feeling the floor support the body, then begin to move limbs and body about as if you are under water. Throughout, feeling that everything is relaxing, driving into the floor.

The final, most important piece of advice Katya had was for us to not to be "too well behaved" - we talked a bit about how an actor needs to be a little naughty, willing to laugh, cry, yell, scream, and be calm at once...and that our bodies need to be poised and ready for this. Mischevious, perhaps.

Tonight's excitement includes finishing dramaturgy homework, Laban homework, and more reading...while the hubby goes out to enjoy Ministry of Sound. Looking forward to his pictures of the night!