Read an amazing article by Anne Bogart today, which was very timely for some of my recent hurdles. We are struggling through mountains of written and devised work in our RADA classes right now; devising a LABAN based piece from The Lady In the Moon, an Elizabethan court play, and more recently devising a response to Genet's Our Lady Of The Flowers for Scene Study.

As we work through these tasks, all in differing groups, the same things seem to recur. We end up spending a lot of time sitting, talking about what something can look like, and this can go on for hours if we were to let it. But if we just get up and DO something, even if we don't know what that is, the results are far more fruitful. We need to get out of our heads, because as we do our bodies take over, and the results are breathtaking.


I am directing for our Scene Study class on Tuesday, and have worked with 3 actors to prepare a scene from the balcony. I really wanted to bring out the changeable nature of each character's "self" in the scene, and selected a scene that gave some very juicy opportunities for this. Genet's plays always centre around a game of some kind, of taking on roles of dominance or submission in varying manifestations, and The Balcony is no different; the premise of the play is a house of illusions, where men can go have their fantasies played out. The scene I selected was not one showing us the fantasies, but instead one that might on the surface appear normal; Irma, Carmen, and Arthur, all of whom work at The Grand Balcony, are in a room discussing the workings of the business. But this scene too has its games and roles played; it is a power game, a struggle to assert leadership, ownership. We worked on the layers of roles going on - where is the character "real", where do they want others to think they are being "real", where are they taking on a role for someone else's benefit.

The other aspect I wanted to highlight came from Genet's notes to directors of the balcony - that there should be a rivalry between Irma and Carmen, that it should be questionable who really runs the brothel. Using some physical theatre techniques, I have the two actresses taking on one another's gestures and positioning, giving the implication that either of them could really be in charge. The illusion, the reflection, going back and forth as if they are mirrors facing one another; no matter how deep you get, it always seems to go deeper.

Our LABAN work fed into this as well; my group are working on physicalizing the qualities of the planets Mercury and Mars. Mars is a bit more straightforward - war, power, strength, etc. Mercury on the other hand seems to have a changeability about it; the idea of quicksilver has really struck us as an integral part of understanding Mercury. We've developed a staging of a piece of The Lady In The Moon that I think helps communicate this changeability and the impact it has on those around us.


Friday's movement class was great. We spent time re-visiting some LABAN concepts, and then began to look at the play we will be using as inspiration for our end of term creation. It is an Elizabethan court play about, not the Pandora with the box, a different one who Nature creates and pisses off the 7 planets (of the time). The play is hilarious, and I can't wait to create something out of this.

On the subject of movement, I was sitting on the DLR Saturday afternoon, and caught myself watching a pop can rolling about, back and forth, completely aimlesslly, for around 10 mins. The train would stop, it would roll one direction, then it would begin again and roll another. Never in straight lines, always random, and changing direction if it hit the chairs or someone's foot.

Spent some time at the Tate Britain Saturday as well, and came across this fabulous paintin (pictured below) by Peter DeFrancia called "Bombing of Sakiet". It made me think of Genet's The Balcony almost immediately. It is sort of what I imagine the world outside the brothel to look like.

Anyway. . . happy sunday!


We have had to submit our choices for approaches groups for next term. I had initially wanted voice, but in my email told our course leaders I would be ok with Laban too. I was really torn on this decision. On one hand, I find LABAN and historical dance to be extremely interesting...but with so much history in dance related forms, and being known already as a "movement" person back home, I worried that this wouldn't open up any new doors like voice would. I also liked the idea of creating a voice project, what this might entail. And not to mention, I really love voice work in general. So as I expected may happen, I was put in Laban. And at first I was a little upset...but now have realized that it is going to be immense fun, and I will learn things I haven't seen before, particularly the historical social dance. And my ever-practical brain has recalled that it will give me some ground on which to look for work with theatre companies choreographing historical dance, such as RMTC or the Opera. So I am now feeling good about these things.

Our second approaches choice was between directing and playwriting. I immediately chose directing, mirroring my choice of Scene Study directing, because I do not in any way fancy myself a playwright. The numbers were really lopsided, so some of us who were doing scene study directing too were asked to consider switching. I gave this some serious thought...was I willing to risk an entire module in something that I don't think I am capable of doing with any success? Again, I sat to re-evaluate. I have devised/created work, and choreographed with success, and this too is playwriting. Perhaps I can approach playwriting from this perspective, and hone my voice as a creator, not just as a director. And who knows, maybe I will find I can actually write things. I think back to undergrad and our Style & Genre class, where Per had us write our own fact, that didn't go too badly. And it is important to do things that take you outside your comfort zone as an artist; that is how we grow.

So next term I will be doing Directing Scene Study (major module), Laban, Playwriting, and Birkbeck Scene study (major module, audience perspective). I have opted out of the producing course; again here, this would be nice to have, but I don't fancy myself a producer, it is too far removed from creation itself.

New Perspectives

Voice and Movement Fridays. Voice was lovely...we did quite a lot of resonance work. I found Adrienne's take on some of the resonance exercises to be extremely helpful; moving on from the ha-humm-ah I had done with Gail, Adrienne uses the relaxed buzzing lips, turned into a hum, turned into the ah. This really pulls the voice forward. I also took a lot from her exercises showing us the capacity for resonance in your mouth, moving a humm from being far back (tight back teeth) to far forward (much space - ideal). We also used a bit of text toward the end of the lesson..I used Imogen from Cymbeline, which I have done for some time. I found that doing this resonance work leading into it really slowed me down and forced me to taste the words, really relishing in each. On a speech where I have been known to rush (excited, energetic....thoughts come too quickly!) I was able to maintain the level of excite, but really slow down and enjoy the words.

Movement was fun. We learned the diagonal LABAN scale and its associated movement qualities: float/thrust, dab/wring, etc. We also continued to work on the Saltieri, adding in the containment of renaissance dance and reverence to begin and end with a partner. Darren informed us of a lecture he is leading in January at the National Gallery as accompaniment to the DaVinci exhibit. I can't wait to attend!


Today was the first half/half Friday, with voice and movement on the same day. Adrianne was back for voice, and we continued to build on the work with releasing and relaxing the spine to free the voice. God, i love Alexander Technique work. Love it. It is amazing how much more freedom you can have in your voice simply from releasing tension in and around the is as if it fixes everything else.

Movement was lots of fun today as well; continued to build on LABAN's work, moving into deriving physical work with a story...and then on merging stories with other groups to create an expressionist piece. The story itself isn't what is important, but rather the relationships between the movement, the planes or spheres we are moving in. It was tough not to have my inner choreographer come out and to just let things happen. Even unwillingly we managed to create something circular. I think my brain moves in circles when it comes to movement-based things. It was also interesting to see how the other groups worked together to merge, seeing where their ideas went in terms of layering or merging the movements that were already created, or as our group did, modifying them to work together.

The Blue Danube

Today's movement class was led by Darren Royston, a choreographer and dance teacher who works at RADA. He along with Darryl lead the Language of the Body portion of our course. This was a fun, silly, and awakening sort of class. We began by moving around the room, dancing and imagining we were young Laban exploring the ways in which our body can move. From here we extrapolated into following him through some Laban scales and various movement qualities. Put in small groups, we had to create a scene showing the extremes of movement, putting a story to it. It was fascinating to watch as each group went through their scenes with various degrees of extremism, and the characters and feelings that were evoked throughout. Finally we looked at the planes of movement; door, table and wheel. Interacting with one another in these planes was quite interesting.

Overall the class was fun and informative; we spent 3 hours seemingly goofing about, but by the end felt as though we had learned about how we physically interact with one another, and how this can be dramatized. This work, unlike some of the more theoretical Laban work, felt like it echoed the outside-in style of work I had done with Brenda and Theatre Incarnate. Simply allowing the body to go to a position, and then explore that position physically and intellectually, was quite lovely. I feel like we get caught up in how a character should move based on time period and status, that we lose a little of the authenticity in the movement....this kind of work can bring us back to it.

Language of the Body

Had our first class in Laban Friday afternoon with Darrell Aldridge. He began the class by talking a bit about his background, and about the background and history of Laban. Darrell is a very passionate teacher, who began with a degree in dance but then moved further into movement theory and personality analysis. After just a few minutes, we got on our feet, and Darrell took us through a devolution to get us from walking human beings all the way to jellyfish. From here, we slowly worked through a physical evoluation from jellyfish to fish, quadropeds, apes, and then humans, focusing on the specific movements of the spine and 6 limbs (arms, legs, head, tail) through these. This was paralleled with the physical development of a baby. Quickly I learned that despite having never specifically studied Laban, I had encountered these concepts through other teachers in dance years ago.

We then learned one of Laban's physical scales. The scales are structured in a similar way to a centre floor adagio, but with the intention to move the body in oppositions, opening and then closing from the navel in all directions. I really enjoyed this connection of movement.

Next we moved into the efforts of movement within the 3 dimensional cube, exploring how to exaggerate movement as light, sustained and indirect (float) or strong, direct and sudden (thrust). Homework is to complete the cube, filling in the remaining combinations of movement quality through space, time and weight.

After this, we attended a performance from some NYU students on exchange to RADA to study the arts of Shakespeare. These young american students had been studying the music, dance, combat and clown of Shakespeare's time, and performed about 1.5 hrs worth of sonnets, scenes and song/dance. What I found interesting to watch was the clarity between those performers who really understood and felt comfortable in the language compared to those who didn't. When the performer really understood the language of the sonnet or scene, the immediately relaxed, had better vocal quality and a more confident physicality. By contrast, when the actor didn't connect with the text they were wooden and awkward, and tended to poor vocal habits (bad diction, poor connection with breath).