Theatre Review: Kinky Boots at The Adelphi, London.

Performance Date: 9th August 2017 Related image

Based on the 2005 film and inspired by the true story of Steve Pateman's shoe factory, Kinky Boots, has taken the theatre world by storm. From the moment the show opened the energy on stage was electric with it's vibrant costumes, energetic choreography and exceptional score. It is a true extravaganza.

The Price and Son shoe factory has been run by Charlie's family for generations; his father is pushing him to run the business in Northampton as he grows up. Meanwhile, a young Lola is trying on her first pair of heels. The two boys playing young Charlie (Timmy Gasiorek) and young Lola (Xanti Mbonzongwana) are only on stage for one song but they make a huge impact in establishing the childhood experiences of the two characters. The boys performed with maturity. Xanti's vocals as young Lola were amazing.

Charlie Price a very likable character and every-man of the show was played by, David Hunter. The semi finalist of ITV's Superstar showed sheer emotion and passion during the performance of 'Soul of a Man'; it was completely believable and you could see that once he finished the solo he was exhausted from putting everything into it; this was consistent with his performance during the whole show.

However, the star of the show was Simon-Anthony Rhoden providing the show with its comic relief took on the role of the witty and flamboyant drag queen Lola. While helping to save the struggling shoe factory with her elaborate designs Lola gives the show it's comic relief and WOW-factor. The sassy and energetic numbers 'Lola' and 'The Sex is in the Heel' stole the show. Simon's vocal range and quality were truly astonishing; especially in 'Hold me in your heart' a heartfelt song that showed a vulnerable side to Lola that the audience don't get to see very often.

Lola is often followed by the Angels; a group of glamorous Drag Queens that light up the stage with impressive dance routines, especially in six inch heels!

The show also had a great group of supporting roles; Verity Rushworth as Lauren gave us an entertaining rendition of 'The History of Wrong Guys'. The stubborn and blokey Don effectively portrayed by Alan Mehdizadeh allowed the show to address the grittier issues of accepting people for who they are relating the show to 'men, women and those who are yet to make up their minds'.

Although the subject matter could be somewhat saucy the show manages to keep it family friendly making it the perfect show for everyone to see. The cast leaves the audience with the important and inspiring message that 'you can change the world if you change your mind'.

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Cast (In order of appearance):
Mr.Price: Anthony Reed
Young Charlie:
Timmy Gasiorek
Young Lola:
Xanti Mbonzongwana
Simon Senior:
Robert Grose 
Nicola:
Cordelia Farnworth
Charlie Price: David Hunter
George: Michael Hobbs
Don: Alan Mehdizadeh
Lauren: Verity Rushworth
Pat: Rosie Glossop
Harry:
Jordan Fox
Lola:
Simon-Anthony Rhoden
Angels: Jed Berry, Jemal Felix, George Grayson,
Adam Lake, Jon Reynolds, Tom Scanlon
Trish: Melissa Jacques 
Richard Bailey:
Dale Evans
Milan Stage Manager:
Jane Milligan

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Thank you for reading  @thedramastudentblog

If there are any questions please leave a comment.

 

Drama Student Tips: Cheap Resources.

In my first year at university I have realised that being a Drama student can be expensive. Not because of living costs (e.g.food, accommodation and transport) but because the cost of buying costumes, props for performances and text books for the course can take up a large part of your student loan. In this post I want to give my top tips on how to find the cheapest resources for your course.


Costumes:

1. Make the most out of local charity shops:
Charity shops are amazing for finding cheap clothing. Most of the best costumes I have owned have been bought fro charity shops. You have such a variety to choose from and because your not paying a lot for an item of clothing you don’t mind if it gets ruined during a performance.

2. Throwing away old clothing? Don’t throw away everything. 
When I’ve been in shows in the past I’ve thrown away old clothing a week before and then realised I should have kept a certain top or skirt because I could have used it as part of my costume. It is so annoying when this happens, so, my advice would to be think about what your are throwing away. If you can use it again keep it in a box somewhere;you will have a supply of costumes and save yourself some money.

3. Learn to sew. 
Some of my best accessories for costumes have been sewn from old pieces of fabric and jewelry. Get yourself a sewing kit; it only needs to be very basic and a glue gun. Use the glue gun to stick on any decorations like sequins, rhinestones, lace etc

 

Props:

1. Make the most out of your Universities prop cupboard.
Don’t go out and buy any props for your performance until you have scoured the prop cupboard at your University. You never know what hidden gems you might find in there. They might have exactly what you are looking for.

2. Charity shops, charity props. 
Again, I cannot express how important it is to look around local charity shops in the city centre. You might pay a couple of pounds and find all of the props you need for your performance.

3. Ask your friends.
If you are looking for props asks your friends. They are most likely going to be your best recourse. Whether you need to borrow a pair of slippers or a whisk…it is likely that they will have something you can make use of.

 

Text Books

1.Gl-Amazon.
Amazon has some amazing books for as little a 1p. Yeah, you have to pay £2.50 for postage but for the quality of the books your are getting it’s not a massive deal. You might be paying £2.51 for a book that is worth £30 brand new.

2. Go to the library.
It is so important that you go to the library as soon as your given an essay to complete. If your leaving your work till the last minute chances are all of the best books have been taken from the library and you will only only have articles online. The books with best references always go first. You need a variety of resources.

3. Second hand books.
Go to your nearest charity shop and ask if they have any books on Theatre. The Charity shops in the town centre near my university have an amazing selection of books that have been donated by past students. I only found out about this shop at the end of my first year and I wish that I had found it sooner!

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Thank you for reading @thedramastudentblog

If there are any questions, please leave a comment.

Singing Workshop Plan (Musical Theatre)

The purpose of this singing workshop will be to explore the style of Traditional Musical Theatre; which uses a combination of chest and head voice to create a more ‘belty’ sound that is commonly heard in musicals such as, Cabaret and Chicago. As ‘the stylistic and vocal needs of the theatre singer are evolving differently from those of the classical singer’ (Kayes,2013) it is a crucial aspect of a theatre performers training that the voice is trained correctly. The session will consist of warm ups and exercises that will promote the importance of vocal health to the students and transferable skills for singing in the style of Musical Theatre. They can put these skills into practice during this workshop and future performances.

The intended learning outcomes from this workshop are;
– For the students to understand how to warm-up the voice correctly to ensure that they do not damage their vocal folds.
– To know how to project and place the voice in the correct place for singing in a traditional musical theatre style.
– To be able to act through song.

Session Structure                                             Length                    Time Used 

Warm up                                             –                10mins            –           10mins

Introduction to
characterisation through                  –               15mins             –          25mins
song

5 minute break                                   –               5mins                –         30mins

Group work (Singing                          –              15mins               –         45mins
‘Rose Red’)

Performing group work/                   –              10mins               –         55mins
critical observation

Feedback from session                      –              5mins                  –         1hr
leader
The group will participate in a physical and vocal warm up that will prepare them for the activities in the session. It is important to repeat your vocal exercises every time that you sing because ‘the voice is a muscle and… it’s very important to warm it up before you sing…otherwise you could end up damaging your vocal [folds]’ (N, 2013).

Warming up the Diaphragm:
To warm up the diaphragm students will be taught an exercise called ‘candle blowing’. All participants will stand in a circle and blow out each member of the circle as though they are a candle. They must breathe out at a constant rate throughout the exercise, supporting the breath with the diaphragm by using muscles in the diaphragm to pull it in. The diaphragm should ache afterwards if the exercise is performed effectively. We do this to make the muscles in the diaphragm warm so the singer can support their breath and project their voice effectively as ‘breath management needs to be tailored to the needs of the song. This includes considerations such as choice of voice quality, musical style and other interpretive issues’ (Kayes, 2013).

Warming up the lungs:
Stretching over with the right arm to collapse the left lung students will be instructed to breathe in (through the nose) for eight counts and then out (from the mouth) for eight. It will then be requested that they repeat this on the opposite side. Breathing is the single most important element in singing and the lungs are the component of the voice that allows this to happen. They are the key components in the respiratory system as they carry oxygen around the body. Warming up the lungs is important as they control the air flow while singing, allowing the performer to increase or decrease the amount of breath needed to hold a note. To become a better singer ‘a vocalist must learn to preserve a reservoir of air in the lungs that supports and holds up a small amount of air released across the vocal cords’. (Singbelt.com, 2017)

Warming up the vocal folds:

To warm up this element of the voice it is best to work with a piano. The participants will be played various arpeggios going from chest to head voice which will first be sang whilst saying numbers, for example the 1 2 3 4 5, 3 5 3 1 exercise. Also, singing an arpeggio on a ‘La’ or ‘Ah’ is effective for warming up the resonators to focus the voice making it easier to create a bright, ringing sound when singing, this is a particularly important quality for the voice when singing in a Musical Theatre style. ‘The vocal folds must move closer together to generate sound. A rapid closing and opening of the vocal folds produces the ‘sound signal’’. (Kayes, 2013) A rip or tear in your vocal folds can prevent you from singing for a while until it heals, so, it is essential that the students are taught to warm up the vocal folds as they are very delicate and can be damaged very easily.

Warming up the tongue:
There is a very simple exercise that students will be taught to warm up the tongue. Starting by placing the tongue on the front of the top teeth you move it in a clockwise motion. Repeat this three times and then do it in an anti-clockwise motion. This is another exercise that should hurt if it is done properly. The tongue is vital for articulation of speech allowing the performer to pronounce words properly and have clear diction during a performance. Failing to warm up the tongue will create a ‘tightness [and reduce] the size and the warmth of your voice.  Your vocals will sound jammed and tense.’. (Artistworks.com, 2017)

Warming up the teeth:
 The only thing you can do is keep them clean and in good condition. This is an important step towards vocal health. If an individual does not brush their teeth plaque begins to build up which holds bacteria that can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay. Brushing your teeth also prevents any infections from developing in the mouth or throat.

Warming up the lips:
To do this participants in the workshop will be taught how to do a lip trill, this exercise works ‘when you blow air out from your lips, there will be a ‘brbrbrbr’ sound, and your lips will vibrate naturally and easily’ (Lip trill exercises for A great vocal warmup!, no date). There will also be a printed hand out provided with tongue twisters, such as ‘Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers.’ This helps with warming up the lips to be able to articulate words properly when singing which is crucial when singing for Musical Theatre.


Main activity:

Singing in the round – Students will be taught how to sing in a round.  They will then be expected to transfer this technique into a performance. Using the characterisation skills previously shown to them in video clips and through being taught how to use ‘actioning’ verbs. The song they will perform is a simple piece of music used in commonly used in singing exercises. The students will be given a sheet with the lyrics of the song ‘Rose Red’. They will be expected to work in groups of four or five to create a short performance using the singing and characterisation techniques taught during the workshop. They will then perform these pieces to the rest of the group and receive feedback from the workshop leader and fellow participants.

References:

*, Name. “Do Warm Up Exercises Help Before Rehearsals?”. N.p., 2013. Web. 3 Mar. 2017.

Kayes, Gillyanne. Singing And The Actor. London: Bloomsbury methuen drama, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2013. Print.

“Lip Trill Exercises For A Great Vocal Warmup!”. Web. 3 Mar. 2017.

“Singing Belt | How The Diaphragm Works”. Singingbelt.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 6 May 2017.

“Tongue Placement For Singing | Artistworks”. Artistworks.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 6 May 2017.


Further Reading:

Kayes, Gillyanne. Singing And The Actor. London: Bloomsbury methuen drama, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2013. Print.

Gecko Physical Theatre Company.

The award winning and internationally acclaimed Physical Theatre Company; Gecko was founded by artistic director Amit Lahav in 2001 with the aim to create physical and visual theatre that has the audience at the heart of the narrative at all times. Their work is mostly open to interpretation; for an audience member this can make their work quite ambiguous, however, you begin to find commonalities between your own life and the story unfolding on stage.

Following an organic process of creation to devise a new piece of work the company go through extremely focused periods of experimentation; working with new choreography, making brave choices and learning from their mistakes. They incorporate sonic and technical progress alongside the development of the choreography to ensure the end product is very slick and well rehearsed. One of the elements of Geckos creation process that I find particularly interesting is that they continue to develop their work while they are touring. I love the idea that the performance that one audience sees is not the same as what another audience will see because the piece is constantly evolving.

Geckos show ‘Institute’ is the best piece of physical theatre I have ever seen.The show toured to the Northern Stage in 2015; the performance was amazing, every element of the piece had a purpose and the way the lighting, sound and choreography worked together was faultless.  Seeing this performance opened a door for me and helped me realise the type of theatre that I wanted a career in. Since then the majority of pieces I have worked on at College or University are Physical Theatre performances. If you ever get a chance to see one of Gecko’s shows I would highly recommend doing so. This performance was set around the theme of ‘caring’; aiming to make the audience think about what it means to care and explore human behavior.  The company paired up with Suffolk Mind and worked with mental health networks to delve further into the issues of mental well-being for the performance.

After watching the performance we stayed for a post-show discussion which was really useful in understanding the process and intention behind the piece. One individual asked about what the performance was about and Amit replied, that it depended on what the performance meant to you as an individual and how you interpreted it. I found this really inspiring as it meant that each person that had watched the piece experienced something different on a personal level and related to the performance in their own way.

Here is the trailer for Geckos’ show ‘Institute’:

Geckos Shows :
-The Wedding
– Institute
– Missing
– BBC Time of Your Life
– The Overcoat
– The Arab and the Jew
– The Race
– Taylor’s Dummies

You can view Gecko’s past performances in full on their website, with trailers for shows that are touring:
http://geckotheatre.com/


A day in the life of a Theatre Manager.


After speaking with Gecko Physical Theatre Company’s manager, Belinda Farrell, we decided to set up a Q&A as to what life is like for a Theatre Company Manager.

What type of training would you advise an aspiring theatre manager to have?
Understanding finance is always hugely useful as so much of what you do comes down to the money so it’s an incredibly valuable skill to have.  There are courses you can do to train to be an arts manager which I would think would be very useful.  You can also work your way up through the ranks.  We had an intern for six months at Gecko and he’s just got his first job as Production and Marketing Assistant which is great news.  He did our internship and a further 3 month internship in London to build up his experience.  So a lot of the time you learn on the job once you get a foot on the ladder.  Get as much experience as you can and remember a lot of experience is transferable.

How did your career as a theatre manager start?
I was in a youth theatre when I was a teen which sparked my interest in the theatre world and meant I went to college to study drama and English.  The course was very hands on with lots of opportunities to get involved in productions outside the course.  While acting wasn’t ultimately for me I got my first [paid] job working as a technical assistant stage manager, which gave me my necessary (at that time) Equity Card, and then kept going on that side of things with different contracts, some in theatres, some with touring companies. I was given an opportunity to organise a festival at Theatr Clwyd, while I was a stage manager there and this gave me some additional planning and management skills which helped me move into an administrator role with a theatre in education company.   Then I moved from job to job every few years.

What is a typical day in the life of a theatre manager like?
As a general manager, it’s your job to manage the business of the company so you might be speaking to the landlord about the rent, or reconciling budgets, writing reports or business planning.  I support the board of directors as well and prepare the board meetings.  If you have a team, you will be making sure they’re doing their jobs and everything is going well for them, so looking after the HR side of things.  It’s generally a 9-5 sort of job with occasional evenings and weekends depending on what’s going on.  The job also depends on the sort of company you’re working for as the requirements may vary.

What is the most difficult aspect of your job?
The multitasking!  Trying to juggle lots of jobs and dealing with unexpected issues that arise on a regular basis.

What is the best aspect of your job?
We have a fantastic team of people at Gecko!  From the performers and technical team, to the office team and management, everyone is hugely dedicated and works incredibly hard to support the shows which are brilliant (of course!).  And while the multitasking can be difficult, it also brings variety to the job which can be very exciting.  And the shows are amazing!  (Have I said that already?!)

What is it like to be the manager of Gecko Physical Theatre Company?
At Gecko, we have an Artistic Director, an Executive Producer, Projects and Participation Manager, Company Administrator and General Manager who are all permanent.  We also have the performers, technicians, two associate directors and a finance manager who are all freelance. Amit Lahav, our Artistic Director, founded the company in 2001 and creates all Gecko’s shows.  Roz, our Executive Producer, produces all the shows, raising money by applying for different funding organisations and responding to different opportunities that arise.  For example in 2015 we applied and were commissioned to produce a new half hour show for live broadcast and Amit created The Time of Your Life which was aired on BBC4 as part of Live From Television Centre. Roz also applied to the British Council to be part of the Shakespeare Lives project and our co-production with Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre [SDAC], The Dreamer, ran in Shanghai in 2016 and is now on at The Pleasance Grand as part of the Edinburgh Festival until 15th August. The Dreamer was created by our Associate Director Rich Rusk and one of our core performers, Chris Evans.  They both went to Shanghai to work with the performers and technical team at SDAC.

It’s mainly me, our Projects and Participation Manager, Pippa and Company Administrator Manwah in the office and it’s always really busy!  Gecko does a lot of education workshops and projects as well as the shows and Pippa manages there and there’s always lots to sort out for those.  Pippa also works very closely with Roz and does a lot of Producing work.  With a cast of nine in The Wedding there’s a huge amount of travel and accommodation details to arrange which is what Manwah’s doing at the moment.

I’m currently working on the business plan which we need to have drafted for the board meeting at the end of September.  We’re funded by the Arts Council England as part of their national portfolio (NPO) and heard recently that we will continue to receive funding for 2018-22.  So there’s lots of planning and policies to write and refresh for that.

What is Geckos’ up and coming show based on and where will it be touring?
Our latest show is The Wedding which explores the marriage between the individual and the state, asking questions of this relationship. It interrogates social isolation and what it means to be stateless, engaging with current issues of the rise of populism across Europe and beyond, mass migration and refugee status.   It will be touring to HOME in Manchester, 12-16 September; Exeter Northcott, 21-23 September; Lighthouse Poole, 3 October; Hall for Cornwall 6-7 October.  We were successful with an Arts Council Strategic Touring bid which means The Wedding will be touring nationally from January to March 2018 and venues include Watford Palace, Nottingham Playhouse, Derby Theatre and the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton.  We’re in the process of confirming a further four venues so keep an eye on our websitewww.geckotheatre.com, and hopefully we’ll be coming to a venue somewhere near you!

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I would like to thank Gecko Physical Theatre Company for their collaboration on this post. Thank you for reading @thedramastudentblog

If there are any questions please comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

The Drama Student Survey.

When I was applying for university in 2016 I was torn between Criminology and Drama. After much deliberation, I eventually applied to go to Leeds University to study Criminology for three years. I deferred my entry by a year because at the time I didn’t feel ready to go to University. So, to cut a long story short… I decided that Criminology wasn’t the degree for me and doing a gap year wasn’t the best decision either. I did my research on a couple of Universities to find a course that suited me for Drama. By this point I had left it so late that I ended up gaining a place through clearing and arranged my accommodation and student loan in about a week. Something that most students do over the space of a couple of months, so as you can imagine I was a little bit stressed. Anyway, I got it all arranged and started studying Drama and Performance at the University of Worcester in September 2016.

I felt that when I was applying to University I didn’t really have much guidance when considering Drama as a degree. So, I am dedicating this post to those students who feel or have felt the same way. I have spoken to different people to gain information about their experiences, applying for courses and any advice they would give potential students and much more.

Below is a survey of all the questions I wanted answers to when considering Drama as a degree or auditioning for stage school.

I hope it helps!

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, ocean and outdoor
Name:
Georgia Elizabeth
Age: 19
University: University of Worcester
Course: Drama and Performance

What helped you to decide you wanted to study Drama as a degree?
I have always been passionate about Drama and it has always been my favorite subject, so for me I didn't need help. I always knew it was something that I wanted to do.

What do you enjoy about studying Drama at University? 
I enjoy the versatility and freedom we have to explore different ideas and practitioners. In first year, I was able to look at several different plays and learn many new techniques which gave me the freedom to create a new piece of work. This was different from school because after a while you learn everything and just wait for your exam, whereas, at Uni there's always more to do.

Why did you you choose the University of Worcester? 
I chose Worcester because I liked the look of the modules and it seemed like we would get to learn different skills in every lecture. Also I appreciated the fact that we were allowed to make a lot of our own decisions yet still receive help from lecturers and tutors.

How has doing Drama helped you develop as a person?
It has helped me to be more resilient as a whole and build on team work. It is very similar to any other working environment as we often work in groups we are constantly relying on each other therefore we all have to be empathetic and resilient when dealing with each other, which is something I have been developing whilst studying Drama.

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Name:
Callum Jordan
Age:19
University: University of Cumbria
Course: Performing Arts

Why did you chose to study Performing Arts at the University of Cumbria?
To me, the course just offered something which not many other did. As well as developing my performance skills in Acting, Dance and Musical Theatre.  I also get the opportunity to collaborate with visiting directors to create unique productions within a professional working environment. In each production as well, I am also challenged with a technical role such as lighting design or marketing so it feels like we're really being trained to be employable in a variety of field withing the industry.

What type of modules do you study on your course?
My course includes Drama, Musical Theatre, Dance Theatre, Design and Stagecraft as well as Contextual Studies.

What was the audition process like for your course?
I took part in a group movement workshop in which we did a vocal and physical warm up; were taught a small piece of choreography and we had to apply some voice work to it, to later perform in small ensemble groups. We then had one-to-one auditions in which you had to prepare a contemporary musical theatre song to perform and an acting monologue. The lecturers were friendly and made me feel at ease with positive feedback and asked me questions about what I wanted from the course to assure me that i'd be making the right decision for myself as a performer.

What would you say is the most challenging aspect of being a Performing Arts student?
Probably the hours of commitment it takes to create a production! In our recent production, we were sometimes working from 9am till 8pm with out directors and then having to do jobs and plan for our technical roles in any spare that we had! But that's all part of the job at the end of the day, putting blood, sweat and tears towards a deadline with the goal of putting on a show! It all pays off when you have that amazing end product in front of an audience.

What category of Performing Arts do you enjoy the most and why?
That's a difficult one because I'm so passionate about every single things but I'd probably have to go with acting! It's the thing I've done the longest out of everything to do with performing but still the thing I'm learning the most about everyday with my university course! There's so many different methods and practitioners that I can still benefit and learn so much from when creating a character. I've learnt a lot about acting through through studying musical theatre and dance – every skill that you learn along the way is valuable for something!

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Name: Grace Lilley
Age: 18
Drama School: RADA (starting September 2017)

What Drama Schools did you audition for?
I auditioned for 8 schools:
Central School of Speech and Drama,Rose Bruford, RADA, Guildhall, ArtsEd, The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and two Universities in Manchester; Chichester and Manchester Met.

Why did you choose those schools?
I was really keen to audition for a lot for a lot of different schools with it being my first year, as I really wanted to get a sense of everything that was out there and make sure I had different experiences of what it could be like training at different schools. I chose them because of the reputation that I knew they had with actor training, as well as recommendations from friends that have studied at some of the schools.

What was the application process like for your chosen schools?
A lot of it was done through online applications, I think RADA was the only one that wasn't – for that I had to print application forms from the website and manually fill them out and post them. In terms of online applications it was a split between UCAS (the universities, GSA, Central and Rose Bruford) and completing forms on the websites of the schools (Guildhall, LAMDA, ArtsEd, AADA). Once my actual applications were sent the schools contacted me with preliminary audition dates and the requirements – some schools called for one Shakespeare monologue and one contemporary, with the definitions of that time scale varying. For example, some schools classify contemporary as anything written after 1960, whilst others might say 1980. Some schools called for more, maybe two of each, but in my experience they rarely ask to see all of them. The length of the auditions also varied between the schools – I remember my LAMDA audition lasted around fifteen minutes, as they saw two of my pieces and then conducted a short interview about why I wanted to train as an actor and what I was currently studying at college. However, my GSA audition featured a short workshop and Q&A session as well, and whilst they only asked for one of our prepared pieces the audition lasted close to three hours. Once the first rounds where over it was just a matter of waiting to hear back, and again the time frames varied a lot – whilst I received the result of my ArtsEd audition, I didn't hear from Rose Bruford for three weeks. Some schools might have two rounds to their application processes, but RADA's BA Acting course has the longest auditions that I know of with four rounds.

Did you receive any guidance from  your college when applying for drama school or did you do a lot of it independently? 
I definitely did a lot of it independently – my college were very helpful in setting up my UCAS-based applications and helping me with my personal statement and references, and my drama teachers were wonderful with helping me select monologues and offering me any constructive criticism as I was rehearsing my pieces, but in terms of the actual applications I did the majority of them without help.

Which schools did you get accepted by?
I was accepted by AADA and Chichester for their three year degree courses, and by Rose Bruford, GSA and RADA for their foundation courses.

What do you think makes a successful audition?
I'd say above everything else, preparation – know your lines and blocking, read your play (maybe even multiple times) and understand the context of it and your characters role and development throughout it, and even research the school alumni, and their respective work. Confidence is a really big factor as well, and a willingness to experiment and take risks with what you show the audition panel. I'd also say an awareness of how you might be coming off – the school want to see that you can collaborate well with both your teachers and other actors, so going in and being friendly, open and constructive with other people auditioning will say a lot about someone as a potential student.

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Name: Melissa Boyle (Blogger @TheDramaStudentBlog)
Age: 19
University: University of Worcester
Course: Drama and Performance

Why is drama so important to you?
Since being very young I always wanted to perform. I would always put on shows for family member in the living room at Christmas. So, drama and performing has always been part of my life. Joining a youth theatre was the best move I made towards developing my skills, I grew not only as a performer but as a person. I gained so much confidence, made amazing friends and have some of the best memories. So, drama is so important to me because it has had such a huge impact on me throughout my life.

Why did you choose to study drama at university?
When looking at courses I kept thinking about what would have the most career prospects for me and after a while I realised it was the wrong way to do things. I needed to study a degree subject that I was passionate about and not force myself into doing something because there was more chance of a job at the end of it. Drama has always been a huge part of my life and now I know what I want to do and where I want to go after I finish my degree; I feel that I have made the right decision.

Why did you choose Worcester University?
I chose Worcester University’s drama course because I felt that it was more suited to the way I like to learn. The course Is very practical, in the sense that; you do a lot of lectures in the drama studio really experimenting with different practitioner’s methods and devising your own work. But, just because the course is practically based it doesn’t mean that it is easier than a course with more written work. The written side of the course also plays a huge part in your overall success on the course as well, from creating portfolios to writing essays. Doing your own independent research is key! So, yeah… the balance between the written work and the practical work works great for me. It is all about finding out the best thing for you!

What is life like as a Drama student at University?
At the beginning of a semester life is quite easy, you have a couple of essays some research to do… which isn’t a bad thing for me because I love to spend time in the library. But towards the end of a semester life as a Drama student can sometimes be quite stressful if I am honest. Especially when it comes to assessment week and you have three or four different performances to rehearse for. Trying to fit all your rehearsals in and find time to write your essays can sometimes seem impossible. But once that is over and you finally feel like everything is coming together you feel like a weight has been lifted of your shoulders and you can get back to a more relaxed state.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sky, outdoor and nature
Name: Elijah Young
Age: 19
Auditioned for stage schools all over England.

Why did you choose to audition for stage school rather than apply to study Drama at University? 
This is a question I get asked a lot actually haha! I knew for a long time during my education that Uni wasn't the right scene for me and I also knew that that if I ever decided to go it would be for the wrong reasons. Auditioning has been a struggle and there's been many times where I've wanted to give in and just go to Uni like people had told me to. But I just know for me as a an actor and for my potential career it's the necessary training for the industry. For me personally, drama school is exactly everything I've wanted to do in further education.

Which auditions did you enjoy the most and why? 
As soon as I started making friends and actually speaking to people at auditions the more I began to enjoy them! My first ever audition I was that nervous I didn't speak to a soul and I had the most miserable time. Making friends at auditions is a bizarre concept because you're essentially becoming besties with your competition, but it doesn't feel like that. I think it's the best thing you can do. Meeting people and hearing their experiences chills you out; especially when it's a full day audition you need the company to support you and keep you going. You can learn so much from other people and in some cases even snag good monologues!

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of auditioning for stage school? 
Don't limit yourself to just auditioning in London. There are brilliant schools in all parts of the UK, some that I would even say have better training than the ones in London. Don't judge a school by word-of-mouth before you've been there and experienced the audition. Be open to suprising yourself at how much you might enjoy a place you thought you wouldn't fit. I auditioned at a school said to be the current best and I hated every minute I was there yet I fell in love with a school I initially thought wasn't right for me. I always go by the rule that there's no such thing as a perfect drama school but there a drama school that's perfect for you.

Do you still want to pursue acting or have you discovered other aspects of performing/theatre that take your interest?
Acting will always be a passion and I never want there to come a time where the door is closed for me. However, I have recently acknowledged the fact that I don't want to limit myself to being just an actor but also an artist in control of my own craft. I'm as equally as passionate about writing and directing as I am about acting. For example, I just recently was the movement director of a production and I've also began to write my own play which have both been challenging and exciting. Artistic expression in other elements of Theatre is something all actors should explore, I believe it makes us all better actors.

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Thank you for reading: @TheDramaStudentBlog

If there are any questions, please leave a comment.

European Theatre: Final Performance 

Climate change is such a huge issue in modern society and we felt that the population, as a whole, is not informed enough on how their everyday actions have huge consequences for the planet. It is a problem that is often ignored. Similar to the way Pina Bausch and Kantor focused their work on subjects that had affected their lives, we felt that this topic is and will have an enormous impact on our lives and future generations.We started the piece using our bodies to create an ‘iceberg’ shape in the centre of the stage which gradually broke apart leaving one person free to move and rise from the constraints of being trapped. Much like how the ice caps are melting the water is freed to rise and flood the land. To make this effective we looked at Pina Bausch’s ‘Vollmond’ which was a piece focused on water; studying how the dancers moved, so when it come to breaking free from the constraints of the iceberg we could create the impression of water with movements that flowed. Pina Bausch used arms a lot in her choreography, so we put some music on and went with what felt natural.

Much like Pina Bausch used an excess of material to cover her stage, such as ‘The Rite of Spring’; (using soil) or in ‘Nelken’; (covering the stage in carnations;) we used white sheets to create the impression of a snowy landscape. As we performed the white sheets would break apart revealing the black floor underneath, this resembled the cracking of ice the glacial drift; as the performance went on it gradually revealed more of the floor beneath. We wanted the white sheets to show how the beauty of Earth is being damaged by civilizations mindless actions. ‘The use of elemental material covering the floor ‘[provokes] different movements from… dancers as well as emotional responses from…audiences” (Allain and Harvey, n.d.).
We used the Kantors method of ‘Bio-objects’ when we covered the stage in litter. ‘Bio-objects were not props used by the actors. The were not part of “the scenery” where “acting” takes place. They became inseparable from the actors. They radiated their own “life” – autonomous, unrelated to the fiction (content) of the play. This kind of “life” and its symptoms constituted a significant part of the performance. The demonstration or manifestation of the bio-object’s life did not involve presenting any external structure.’(“CRICOTEKA – Fine Arts – Objects – Tytuł Nowego Artykułu – Centre For The Documentation Of The Art Of Tadeusz Kant). Litter is a huge part of our lives and when we were performing it was sometimes sticking to our feet while we were trying to move, giving the impression that litter effecting the environment is inseparable from our everyday lives. It also become a obstruction as we blindfolded ourselves with the bin bags and we could not see where we were moving to.
We then began to use a exercise used by Pina Bausch; writing out words with movement. We wrote words that were relatable to climate change and the Earth; for example, mine was water so my movements flowed. We kept the blindfolds on while performing this to show how humans are blind to the damage on Earth. Jess,had cans tied to her during this as a symbol of how we are constantly tied to the cause of climate change; it obvious a prevalent problem but the majority of people do nothing to prevent it.
Overall, the performance was open to the interpretation of the audience with the theme being ambiguous from the outset. We did not want to give too much away to the audience and make it obvious that the piece was about climate change. Much like Pina Bausch and Kantor people often watched their pieces and left a little confused about what they might have just watched. Our purpose was to make people think about their actions. Our last scene shows how we forget about the real beauty of nature as we take the luxuries we have for granted. As two dancers perform gracefully across the stage the rest of the cast run around throwing rubbish ignoring the tranquility of the movement, much like we ignore the natural beauty of the world we live in.
You can watch our full performance here:

References:
Allain, Paul, and Jen Harvie. The Routledge Companion To Theatre And Performance. Print.
“CRICOTEKA – Fine Arts – Objects – Tytuł Nowego Artykułu – Centre For The Documentation Of The Art Of Tadeusz Kantor”. Cricoteka.pl. N.p., 2017. Web. 19 May 2017.
Further Reading:
Govan, Emma, Helen Nicholson, and Katie Normington. Making A Performance. London: Routledge, 2008. Print.

Marina Abramovic 

A Yugoslavian born performance artist. Her work explores the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibility of the mind. Since starting her career in the 1970’s, making work that is intimate, physically and emotionally exposing, dangerous and extrapolates such practices of everyday life as walking, screaming and simply being to explore their latent power.
During the late 1950’s abstract art began to lose impetus. Many artist began to embrace performance art. Abramovic’s work showed the typical aims of a new generations eagerness to avoid traditional, object based art. (e.g. paint and canvas). She cut down the barrier between audience and artist by making her own body the medium. In 1974, Abramovic did a terrifying experiment. In an art gallery in Serbia (Belgrade) she laid seventy-two items on a table and invited the public to use them on her in any way they wanted. Some of the items were not very dangerous; a feather boa, roses etc. But some items were lethal, she had a pistol loaded with bullets. When spectator halted the performance six hours in, she had been painted, cleaned, cut and decorated and a loaded gun had been held to her head. She exited the gallery covered in blood and tears, and alive. Her earlier work was probably her most dangerous material.
She said:

‘I had a pistol with bullet in it, my dear. I was ready to die.’
She often refers to herself as the Grandmother of performance art. In the year 2010, she sat in a chair in the MoMa in New York for ‘The Artist is Present’ exhibition, as visitors sat across from her; some laughed; some cried. One visitor stripped her of all her clothing and had to be removed by security. The exhibition took place over three months during which, she sat completely impassive and become one of the most famous and controversial pieces of performance art ever staged.

Some critics had some very strong opinions about her work; Fox News described her as ‘some Yugoslavian-born provocateur’.
She allowed the audience to have potentially sadistic access to her but she continued to explore the limits of her own endurance, as well as her own masochism, and her audiences relationship to it, the power to transform herself and her audiences, physically, emotionally and psychically. In 1975 she performed several body art pieces that tested her physical limits; She screamed until she lost her voice in ‘Freeing the voice’, ran repeatedly into a wall until she collapsed in ‘Interruption in space’, and using a razor to cut a five pointed star into her stomach, whipping herself and lying across ice for thirty minutes in ‘Lips of Thomas’. These works staged violent physical transformations, but they also explored the potential for these somewhat ritualized acts to effect less visible psychic transformation, both for Abromovic as a performer and for her audience as witness.
Marina Abramovic Last Day May 31 2012 The Artist Is Present:

An Art Made of Trust, Vulnerability and Connection | Marina Abramović | TED Talks

Performance Critique essay with annotations from lecturer.

I am going to be adding some of the essays that I have completed in my first year of university in an attempt to help guide first students into academic writing. The feedback from the lecturers that marked this essay is at the bottom of the page. Take note of the feedback that has been provided as it tells you what could be improved and what was done well.

RSC:-The Tempest (In collaboration with Intel) Performance Critique 2017: 

A blasting sound of thunder erupts, as Alonso and his crew members clamber onto the stage in distress, opening the Royal Shakespeare Companies two-thousand and sixteen production of ‘The Tempest’ celebrating the four-hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The excitement to see what spectacle had been produced during the RSC’s collaboration with Intel and Imaginarium was soon shattered. It became clear during the performance that the production was more of a technological experiment than an impressive piece of theatre.

Gregory Dornan described the use of technology in this production to be ‘magical and unforgettable’ (The Tempest, Dornan,2016) however, the hovering harpy showing the shape-shifting character of Ariel presented on moveable grey gauze, was more like a tacky animation from the internet game World of War Craft, taking the attention away from the sheer talent of Mark Quartley playing Ariel. Qaurtley’s excellent physicality added to his captivating portrayal of Ariel which seized the audience’s attention whenever he was on stage; often being overshadowed by the unnecessary use of a high-tech flying beast. There was a noticeable delay in the motion capture of Ariel when he spoke as the mouth of the animation did not move when the actors did and the projections were primarily towards the audience sat directly in front of the stage, ruining the effect for the audience who were sat either side. Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, journalist and theatre reviewer for The New Yorker said the animations where ‘like a PowerPoint presentation built from clip art’ (Pollack-Pelzner et al., 2016).

The action created on stage relied on the technology provided by Intel which took away the real Shakespearean feeling of this production. The lighting was very impressive and Shakespeare expressed through adding a Masque into ‘The Tempest’ that he aimed for this play to utilise the most ‘Innovative technology’ (The Tempest, Dornan, 2016) and ‘stage machinery’ (The Tempest, Dornan, 2016) of the day. However, the choice of using SFX and lights on stage to create a literal representation of the magic in the play ultimately removes the audiences’ ability to imagine for themselves the limitless power of the magic in ‘The Tempest’. The vibrant and lively SFX often seemed out of place. One moment that exemplified this was when Simon Russel Beale, playing the part of Prospero, conjured a ring of fire with his magic staff shown in a circular motion of orange light on the stage. From the moment, he started to cite his monologue from ‘ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves’ (Act1 Scene 7, Shakespeare and Gill, 2010) the actor was not in sync with the lighting on the stage: it did not look believable it just made the performance seem extremely unrealistic. In fact, there were very few actors during the performance that interacted well with the technological scenography.

The Masque, ‘a grand, spectacular entertainment which combined song, speech, and dance in a display which was primarily visual in its appeal’ (Shakespeare and Gill, 2010) was undoubtedly seen as the most spectacular moment in a production at the court of King James. The Masque in the RSC’s production of ‘The Tempest’ was a joy to watch. The audience were dazzled by the harmonious voices of Samantha Hay and Jennifer Witton and the energetic dancing from the ensemble in a spellbinding wedding ceremony for Miranda and Ferdinand. This scene was refreshing, vibrant and magical; creating ‘the most majestic vision’ (Act 4 Scene 1, Shakespeare and Gill, 2010). The use of the lighting and SFX was perfect to establish the magical effect of the sprites on the Island.

Stephen Brimson Lewis’s set ‘orchestrates the visual spectacle’ (Billington, 2016) and from the initial viewing of the scenography the buzz among the audience as they got settled, was unforgettable. This show was a very effective way of experimenting with the latest technology and incorporating it into the theatre of today, however, it felt a little too adventurous and cluttered at times, Billington, theatre reviewer for Th Guardian described the use of advanced technology to be a ‘one-off experiment rather than a signpost to the future’ (Billington, 2016). Simon Russel Beale performed Prospero’s soliloquy, said to be Shakespeare’s farewell to the Theatre. He gave a truthful and heartfelt performance to end the production leaving the audience in silence as he voiced the last line of the play, ‘Let your indulgence set me free’ (Act 5 Epilogue Shakespeare and Gill, 2010).

Bibliography

Billington, M. (2016) The tempest review – Beale’s superb Prospero haunts hi-tech spectacle. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/nov/18/the-tempest-review-simon-russell-beale-rsc (Accessed: 7 January 2017).

Pollack-Pelzner, D., Remnick, D., L’Official, P., Brody, R., Kalb, B., Borowitz, A., Ali, R., Schjeldahl, P., Gopnik, A. and Yorker, T.N. (2016) Daniel Pollack-Pelzner. Available at: http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/two-ways-to-bring-shakespeare-into-the-twenty-first-century (Accessed: 7 January 2017).

Shakespeare, W. and Gill, R. (2010) The tempest: Oxford school Shakespeare. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The Tempest by William Shakespeare (2016) Directed by Gregory Dornan [ Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon, 30 November].


Feedback:

Grade Achieved: B+

1. A good analysis of the production, including references to the play, specific scenes and some historical background.

2. A good understanding of how the technology used in the performance impacts on theatrical imagination.

3. Sometimes your thoughts need further explanation – e.g. “the technology…took away the the real Shakespearean feeling of the production”.

4. A clear and flowing writing style – just check your spelling of cast/crew members names. 

5. The arguments developed in the first half of the essay are then somewhat contradicted by the conclusion. Be absolutely clear about what overall point you are making.

6. Your referencing is clear and accurate. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Fun Ice Breakers for a Drama Class.

1. Name and Go
This game works well as an ice breaker for students to learn each other’s names.
The students will stand in a circle. They will each take it turns to tell the group their name.  The students will then move onto the main aim of the exercise. They must choose another student say another person’s name in the circle and walk to them. The chosen student must say someone else’s name before the other student reaches them. If they do not say another student name before the other student reaches them, they are out of the game.

  1. Opposite Game
    This exercise is great to use as a warm up at the beginning of a class/lesson.
    Instruct the students to walk around in the space. You will then introduce word such as, jump, go and stop. So, when you say Jump; they jump, when you say go; they go etc.

    Jump = Jump
    Go = Go
    Stop = Stop

    For the second stage you will explain how the words will mean the opposite, so;

    Jump = Don’t jump
    Go = Stop
    Stop = Carry on walking (go)

    Feel free to add you own instructions and opposite words to this game to make things more exciting for the students.

    3. Cat and Mouse
    Cat and mouse is almost like a game of tag with a twist.
    Get your students into pairs. There must be one pair left at the end that you can split into the cat and the mouse. The cat will start at one end of the room and the mouse at the other. The cat must tag the muse before they join another pair.

Step 1: The cat will begin to chase the mouse.
Step 2: The mouse must run away and try to join a pair.
Step 3: Once the mouse is successful the individual on the opposite end of where the mouse just joined then becomes the mouse.

You decide when the cat needs to swap role with someone else.

  1. Copying Game
    This game is a lot like wink murder.
    Choose a student to leave the room.
    You then choose another student that all the other students in the circle will copy movements from.
    Let the student back into the room and they must guess who the leader is.
    They have three guesses to try to figure out who it is.

    5. Story Maker
    Get the students to sit in a circle.
    You then start the story of with basic sentence; e.g. Once upon a time there was a little girl…
    Each student must add a sentence to the story.
    It amazing how much the story develops just by each story adding a sentence.
    You choose when you want the story to end. Just tell the students to come to and ending.

    6. Fruit Bowl
    Get your students to sit in a circle on chairs.
    You then stand in the middle and ask them to shout out their favourite fruit. The top three fruits that you hear are the ones that you will use for this game. So, for example if the top three fruits were apple, mango and pear. You would then go around the circle and give each student a fruit in the order of apple, mango and pear.
    If you shout pear – The student that are Pears must change seats. It’s the same for mango and apple.
    If you shout fruit salad then everyone must get up and change seats.

    7. Somebody Moved
    This game is very much like the copying game and wink murder.
    Sit your students in a circle.
    One student will leave the room and the teacher will pick a student to move to a different area in the circle.
    You will then invite the student who went outside back into the room.
    They have three guesses to try and figure out who the person is who moved.

    8. Human Knot
    Students need to be in smaller teams for this game.
    Split your students into group of 5/7 and tell them to make a circle.
    They then have to join hands across the circle. ~
    Their left hand – Joins someone else’s right hand.
    Their right hand – Joins someone else’s left hand.
    They then have a limit of 5 minutes to try and untangle themselves from the human knot. The first group to succeed is the winner.

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