Week 10: Let’s Not Think On It

Even in the huge city of London, an American cannot escape the realities of this election. However I am trying to stay busy and stay hopeful, so I’m finally finishing up these posts. The sky grows darker earlier and earlier every day, and the crisp autumnal wind is in full blow. I love London, and I will be sorry to leave this new found home of mine. It seems like there is a theatre on every corner, and a new piece of theatre opens every week. It is not a happy city, necessarily. It’s not a city that reaches out to embrace you and welcome you, but it creeps into your heart like a disease. I’m sick with love for this city, darn it.

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In Stage Combat on Wednesday we began learning some hand to hand fight choreography for our final test. It was nice to return to hand to hand after a while of focusing on rapier and dagger. I never thought I would be flattered by the statement “You have a really scary face when you look angry.” but as soon as I heard that my face jumped into a huge smile.I’m learning that it’s really important to react with your whole body in stage fighting, or else it will never be convincing to an audience. Fighting takes different tolls on every person, and it is part of the actor’s job to decide how experienced, frightful, or prepared your character is. Even taking notice of your character’s breathing pattern is important. When we are full of adrenaline and fear or excitement, our breathing changes and reflects the situation we are in. I would be much more frightened of someone whose breathing remained slow and calm throughout a fight, whereas someone who has very shallow and quick breaths is more likely to be scared and unprepared. On Wednesday night we saw the extremely provocative Shopping and F**cking by Mark Ravenhill at the Lyric Hammersmith theatre. It’s odd to me that I still look back on that production with a happy, almost thankful view. Most likely it’s because I’ve never seen a show with this much degree of shock. I was talking to a friend about this style of in-yer-face theatre, and they made the good observation that many of these shows receive a “one or none” review. You either love it or hate it, and for some twisted reason I guess I kind of loved this experience.

This Thursday in our Shakespeare class my scene partner and I performed a scene from The Merry Wives of Windsor. We did a scene between Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, who are two of the silliest women in Shakespeare’s plays. Merry Wives is truly a play of the middle class, which was a very new thing developing in society around this era. Thursday was quite the humbling learning experience for me. I was not prepared enough and I really suffered through that in performance. Constantly shaking, not focusing, and mish-mashing lines were only a few of the symptoms caused by  ill-prepared actor syndrome. It was unfortunate, it was embarrassing, but it happened and now we move on to create better work. There’s always the nasty thought that follows these scenes, a thought of self-doubt and insecurity, but as always we must take our hammer of self-worth and smash it down. I think I wanted my teacher to be more mad at me than he was, because I think almost everyone would rather have someone be mad at them rather than being disappointed. If someone is disappointed in you it means that there were expectations you didn’t meet, or betrayed somehow, and that is a horrible no-good feeling to ever have. The phrase “we carry on” has been rambling through my life a lot this week, beginning with this Thursday.

But, as always, there is something to always look forward to- like the weekend trip to Yorkshire!

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