Week 4: The Far Wanderer

Fun week, fun week! I’m pretty tired at the moment because we got back from our weekend trip now, but I’m determined to finish this before I go to bed. Only one performance this week, although as you may have seen, the post was extremely too long. Seriously, I copied it into Microsoft Word and it was five pages long!

Since we saw the performance of Macbeth last week we discussed the performance during class on Monday. I don’t recall a single person speaking extremely highly of the performance, which is unfortunate. For most of these students it is their first time seeing a performance at the Globe theatre, so it’s unfortunate for them that they had a less than perfect first impression. Each class period one or two students will lead the class in discussion with questions, although many times it ends up becoming a repeated pattern of raised hands-including me. I found myself furiously scribbling down notes because I didn’t want to forget any points to add to the discussion. We spent some of class debating the new artistic director of the Globe, Emma Rice. She’s installed new lights and electrical equipment to make the Globe more “modern” and “accessible” to audiences. Patrons and scholars are pretty furious with her and the changes that she has made so far. Although, she had this concept coming into her placement so really the patrons should be angry with the board members who hired her, right? Lee (our teacher) briefly introduced the performance on Wednesday which is where the Greek drama framework was planted into my brain.

Our assignment for Theatre Encounters was to create a plot line with five to six points with our partner. Last week we fleshed out our characters and began to create a plot. We looked at pictures of strangers and created characters off of them.  My character was Deni, a Muslim woman who lives in Morocco (or Tunisia) and runs a non-profit organization. On Monday we performed our monologue or duologues for the class. It was interesting seeing the many different ways that a scene could be performed. For example, one group worked better as a scene rather than a balancing of monologues. Ours worked pretty well as balanced monologues between the two of us. We started with Darien (my partner) sitting behind me, and then switching with me whenever his character started speaking. The goal of this assignment was to see how differently the same story can be told from  different perspectives. Darien and I were telling the same story, although we were stopping at different points and adding in details that the other character didn’t know of. After a progression in the story I felt an impulse so I moved up next to Darien, which seemed to match the heightened plot. Because my character was Muslim, I felt it would be more offensive if I didn’t wear a hijab than if I hadn’t. So, this week I learned how to wear a hijab! At first I didn’t feel very different, although my eyes did seem more buggish than usual. Once I took off the hijab I felt very exposed and open, even though I was wearing very modest clothing. I wasn’t expecting to feel so vulnerable once I took the hijab off, so I was pretty emotionally confused. The performance was mostly improved, so I became more and more invested in the story the farther along we went. By the end of the performance I wanted to develop the whole play! It was extremely fun.

On Wednesday we continued working on hand-to-hand combat in Stage Combat class. Although most of this week’s class was focusing on how to fake actual contact hits. We started with several different punches and kicks where there is no  touching. We got in a circle and watched our instructors do the moves from several angles. I’ve noticed that the selling is totally in the reaction of both actors. If someone throws a punch with no energy, he/ or she is obviously not actually hitting someone. If someone is receiving a punch/slap/kick obviously you’re going to react at least a tiny bit. It was weird to see a punch from the “wrong” angle, where you could see the space between the actors. It was like realizing the reality of your favorite holiday fat man. Kicking and slaps were the most awkward moves for me. I realize that I am above average height for women, but unfortunately most of our class is shorter women. Kicks were harder for me because they were so…dainty. Even though I only had a brief six months of Shaolin Kung-Fu, the idea of kicking someone without full force is very hard for me. With slaps, the angle of the hand is so comical that it’s hard to react appropriately when your partner is practically high-fiving the air in front of you. In some performance spaces it is necessary to have contact hits. We learned a couple punches and kicks that actually use contact. Fortunately/Unfortunately we only have one male in the class, so we let him decide who he wanted to fake kick his groin. I cannot describe the incredible honour I felt when he chose me, folks. The “groin” kick was simply finding a level of contact that wasn’t too painful and kicking the inner thigh. The magic of theatre! I may have slightly bruised myself because of getting too caught up with the napping during punches. Napping is the clapping, snapping, or other sounds that falsify the punch or slap. For example, with many punches in stage combat the nap comes from the attacker hitting his/or her chest as they’re “punching.”

In Voice Wheel (aka dialect class) we focused on the East London/ Cockney accent. Because of some of the glottal stops on words like “got”=”go’” or “bottle”=”bo’le.” Class felt very silly this week because of how extreme the older Cockney dialect sounds. We listened to some radio interviews from the 1940’s and 50’s, which really showed a progression in the London accents. I was reminded of several characters from Disney movies, like Burt from Mary Poppins or Kay from The Sword and the Stone. On Wednesday night we saw the thought-provoking performance of Father Comes Home from the Wars parts 1,2, & 3.

On Thursday we had Classical Voice with Ben like usual. We continued to deeply analyze the first scene of Hamlet. No matter how many Shakespeare workshops, lectures, plays, and summer camps I’ve gone to, I am still reminded that on the grand scheme of things I know nothing about text work. It’s a humbling class, but it can also be a tad embarrassing or frustrating if I don’t watch myself. I think it’s pretty natural, but it’s still disappointing. Room to grow, room to grow.

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