This weekly update will be very short (don’t applaud just yet) because our fall break began this week! Also I included Monday in my last weekly update so that already shortens my blog substantially. Enjoy!
In stage combat this week we continued working with rapier and dagger work. Remembering the parries using both hands is still quite confusing, but once I started applying them in a set of choreography they made much more sense. Rachel taught us some more footwork this week, including the thigh-killer thwart. The thwart is a deep (very deep) lunge to any diagonal. It’s meant for attacking or retreating in sword fighting. I’m pretty sure my thighs are still feeling thwart-ed. We also started learning choreography this week! What we have started to learn is our choreography for the certification test at the end of the semester. By the end of this week’s class we learned probably a third of our choreography. It’s hard not to feel anxious when you see classmates already doing the choreography at full speed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re doing it right. This is not a dig on my classmates, folks, but more of a general observation of people learning fight choreography. Although it may seem like your teacher only knows the phrase “practice it slowly” in English, it’s because many students forget about this important step. With fight choreography, dance, musical instruments, etc., it’s always in your best efforts to practice painfully slow and precise until the set seems like second nature. Students (professional actors, too!) just get stuck in the “Must go fast! It look cool when go fast!” mind frame, and that’s when we end up with a bad fight sequence, and hopefully nothing worse!
During the fifteen minute break we have between stage combat and voice wheel you can usually find us stuffing our faces with food or panting on the ground in a lump of sweaty nothingness. I can’t imagine the horror John Tucker (our teacher) has every time he sees our drenched faces and probably smells our b.o. from outside the door. Bless ‘em. This week we started working through some songs and continuing work on the breath and connecting the head and chest voices. For those of you who feel like you’re reading Chinese right about now- your voice resonates in your head, throat, chest, and belly. Many singers, including myself, have a hard time moving smoothly between these areas, and this is usually when you hear singers or pre-pubescent boys have a crack in their voice. It’s because they’re moving between the different resonators in the body. Growing up as an alto singer (lowest female vocal range) I am very used to being looked over and probably forgotten by the teacher who is most likely focusing on the sopranos (sorry not sorry). It’s not necessarily that the teacher doesn’t want to work with the altos, but they usually forget. There is a small club of two in the alto section, so we spent most of class exchanging desperate glances and giggling at our chaotic lack of knowledge. We even had some of the basses singing our parts, which needless to say, made trying to find our part even harder. In these situations I’ve learned to either a) find a “hole” in the chord and sing that part or b) lip sync and realize that the teacher will still tell you that you did a great job. I did have a small personal victory moment while singing some scales when my teacher said “Wow, your highest note was the same as the sopranos…looks like we might have a hidden soprano in you!” My fellow altos may hiss at this declaration but fear not, for I was still singing alto for the rest of the class.
“Are you all on pills today?” is a great explanation of our classical voice/ Shakespeare study class with Ben. Once again I didn’t have to perform in class so I just sat and watched two groups perform. One might say that our silences in class usually hang like the icy ground of Antarctica, but this Thursday’s class was filled with a lot more jokes and an overall jovial attitude. This mostly was attributed to the two scenes, which were both from comedic plays. I have to watch myself, because sometimes my commentary in class (which is a hereditary trait, mind you) is overheard by the teacher and then draws attention to myself–ruh roh! Never fear, I don’t usually get in trouble for this, rather it begins an introduction to the vast abyss of Anna Kate’s strange idiosyncrasies’. All throughout class I was filled with an electric excitement for my impending adventures. I think everyone in class was feeling the spark of fall break, so maybe that’s why we were coo-coo-bananas.