Here is the continuation of my first blog post ‘The Teaching, the Directing, the Passion’ about my recent studies at Shakespeare’s Globe Directing Masterclasses. I took pages of notes, but wanted to distil them all into a one paragraph summary for each of the two days of classes. Although this post is brief, I hope it will inspire you to keep learning about whatever subject thrills you. As Albert Einstein said: ‘Once you stop learning, you start dying.’
Day 2, Sunday:
Today mostly took place in Sackler Studios (as did some of Day 1) as well as in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Our first class of the day was with Sarah Case for ‘Voice.’ This lovely woman led us through some vocal exercises and helped to integrate the importance of breath and voice. One of my favorite quotes from Ms. Case was ‘Breath is everything – it drives the voice. Without breath you have no voice.’ This is so important in Shakespeare. There are many long thoughts and some difficult passages, so if your diaphragm isn’t properly supported – you won’t be able to give them justice. We also got to ‘Breath the Space’ in the playhouse, which was making sounds and saying lines from various places around the space. This is a very good exercise for getting actors to work together as a company, which is precisely what we want to achieve with our ensemble at The New Renaissance Theatre Company. Too soon, it was time for lunch, and I wish this session could have gone on for a bit longer, of course. After lunch, we met with Simone Coxall for ‘Movement in Theatre’, which was amazing! For the classes this weekend, we focused on The Tempest Act 1 Scene II. Ms. Coxall helped us to get grounded to the floor and used the brilliant analogy of imagining ‘roots growing from our feet into the floor.’ We did a lot of exercises to help us delve into the three main characters of the scene: Prospero, Caliban and Ariel. Eventually, we used all of our work from the beginning of the class to bring the text to life. I have such a problem getting out of my head, but Ms. Coxall inspired me to have fun and to ‘not be afraid to fail.’ This class split its time between the studios and the playhouse like the Voice class, as well. In the playhouse, we really got to explore movement as the three characters on the stage – using every bit. She also taught us to ‘not play the obstacle, but do what you need to do to overcome it.’ Towards the end of our session, I even got to portray Prospero in a bit of movement work with a fellow classmate as Caliban. It was so much fun to play!
Finally, class was over (sadly) and we all met with Rob Swain for ‘Plenary’ and to tell him what a wonderful experience this was for us. I really hope I get the opportunity to work with them all again. The Higher Education Team were so kind and helpful. After some hugs and goodbyes, I zipped over to the line for Groundlings with my ticket for A Midsummer Night’s Dream in my hand. This was Emma Rice’s first production as The Shakespeare’s Globe new Artistic Director. I wasn’t going to miss that!
Pictured below: My traveling companion Balzac near the entrance to The Globe Theatre & Sackler Studios