Actor/Director Lab November 2011 Day 4

Lauren Cooney – Actor Participant

“The penultimate day in my Actor/Director Lab experience began majestically with a late start for the actors, whilst the directors finalised their collaborative plans for out movement pieces. Adhering to the previous days work, in which we sequenced a piece with movement director Lawrence, honed and styled with characteristic precision by Kristine, this morning’s task saw us splitting into two groups (3 directors each) and choreographing our own. My group was masterminded by Emma, Antonio and Jonathan, who immediately made me feel safe and excited about the work. Emma clearly and calmly explained the directors' vision, Antonio deftly got us feeling nimble, and Jonathan helped us place our body tension one notch lower than the 'Californian Beach Dude' in order to feel the exhaustion and heaviness of our refugee characters.

They took their time in getting the opening of our piece perfect, but we were all sure it would pay off. And when we moved onto sculpting the rest of the piece, the results felt very organic and true. Thankfully, Kristine agreed with the company feeling, and offered us excellent feedback on our achievements. It was a very satisfying sequencing experience (something that can very easily feel woolly or embarrassing). Their attention to detail, and clear communication with each other and the rest of the company made everyone very comfortable and committed to the action. Hats off guys.

After lunch, Kristine worked on a couple of Chekhov scenes, observing first Antonio and then Jonathan as they directed the pieces, offering guidance as per. The rest of watched, and this was the most formal 'performance' and proscenium style work we had done so far. Although the rules never change, Kristine reminded us how quickly an actor or director can become intimidated by a canonical text. The actor must always be made to feel relaxed in the rehearsal room before they can play effectively, and an improvisation within their comfort zone is a great way to achieve this. Improvisations are in the actor's and not the character's interest. I'm really looking forward to being put through my paces tomorrow.”

Mikesh Bassi – Actor Participant

“On the morning of 24th the Actor/Director lab participants were split into two groups, each group contained both actors and directors and the brief was to devise a movement piece from the play Child of the Divide, a scene from which we had worked on with Lawrence Evans the previous afternoon. Kristine was due to come in before lunch to watch a performance of the mornings work and give the actors and directors feedback. The session started with the directors and actors warming up as an ensemble, after which the group divided, three directors were responsible for each group of actors.

In the group I was working with that morning the directors began by getting actors working on their physicality up by having us perform exercises on all fours, followed by a gradual build up onto two feet through seven different levels of tension. The exercise made the actors very aware of how they were moving and laid a foundation for how the actors would move in character. The directors were very hands-on in their approach, manipulating actors into positions they wanted to see them move in and making sure each actor had a clear idea of what level of tension they were expected to portray.

The scene the directors were devising was meant to show how the actors, playing refugees displaced by the partition ofIndia, travelled across the new Indian/Pakistani border and the hardship they faced whilst doing so. To get a sense of the claustrophobic conditions millions faced whilst making the journey and the chaos of an en masse movement of so many people, we were asked to perform an exercise where the actors huddled together in a group on one side of the room and moved across to the far side with the people at the rear of the group forcing their way to the front to get the group moving.

The directors gave feedback and advice to actors where they felt it was appropriate throughout the devising process. The actors were given the idea of what the directors wanted, and the scene was allowed to develop naturally through exercises and games they were asked to play.

Kristine watched and gave feedback on each performance and explained what it was we were going to be working on that afternoon before we broke for lunch. Half the group would work on scenes from Chekhov’s The Seagull and the other on scenes from Child of the Divide, the scenes would be worked on in pairs by the actors, with a director assigned to each pair. That afternoon we would watch two groups perform scenes from The Seagull under direction with input from Kristine, who asked the actors to improvise the scene in a new setting which familiarised the actors with the scene and made for a great afternoons viewing.”

Marcos Tajadura - Actor Participant

“Today has been a great day for me at the lab as Kristine has showed me I was able to ‘do it’. She has given me enough confidence and tools to understand and perform what I was meant to. But she has not only been great with me, she has taught the directors how to take the best out of the actors and get from them what the directors really were expecting. Through the lab I have been able to better understand the relationship between the director and the actor and for me, it is being a very challenging experience as my background is circus so therefore more physical activity and less text.

Also, it is being a great pleasure to share this fabulous learning experience with such talented people from different multicultural backgrounds. It is very interesting to see the versatility of an actor performing in different languages or in English with different accents. Kristine is very good at making the actor feel very comfortable in the improvisations and using different languages so that later when it comes to the text everything is much easier and natural.

The lab is being very fun, dynamic, captivating and of course very helpful and beneficial. I really don’t want it to finish!”