So here it is: a less superficial entry that hopefully fits well with the actual educational element of this adventure.
Be forewarned: it's quite wordy and rawther academic (remember, I'm getting academic credit for this).
It's hard to believe that only a week has passed, and it's also hard to believe that already a week has passed.
On the Education
The course is amazing. It's essentially an intro to what you would cover at a three-year Drama School course. We have two or three classes a day that cover a wide range of areas: improv, acting, text, period dance, movement, voice, mask, combat, film, audition etc. We get sessions (about 1.5-2 hours long) in each of these areas at least two times, and some more than that. The other half of the day is spent in Project Rehearsal, which is where we work with the same two teachers each time on certain texts. (My group, S4, is working with Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and Closer, by Patrick Marber).
It's at once validating and overwhelming. It's validating because many of the concepts and techniques and philosophies to which we're being introduced are ones that I'm already familiar with through my training at Ball State. On the other hand, what we might cover in a year in one class at BSU, Guildhall Students would cover in a year in three separate classes. There are separate classes for voice, text, acting, movement, mask, improv, period dance, film, combat, audition, and more, and of course these all have different levels of progression through the time at the School. My training is much more condensed, but that's to be expected, as I'm not at a conservatory. I'm glad that my education is better-rounded in terms of the world on the whole (but more specific to performance than if I were simply getting a B.A. in Theatre, rather than a B.F.A. in Acting), but it's also intimidating to know that the competition will have had this level of intense training in techniques and methods.
Even though I've been exposed to much of what we're learning already, I'm still growing so much. It's always nice to have someone new coach you. There's a slightly different approach, a slightly different vocabulary, with everybody. The course is not just a broad overview, either; by spending half of every day in Project Rehearsal a good chunk of the course becomes consistent and a little more personalized.
The instructors are amazing. Every single person is so knowledgeable. It's humbling to be taught by them. After all, they're some of the best at theatre pedagogy out there! Patsy Rodenburg alone is a bit of celebrity in herself. It may not be possible to develop the same level of personal closeness with them as I have at Ball State, but that's obvious, since this is only a three-week short course, versus a multi-year investment on behalf of both parties.
I'm hoping that my technique will improve some with this course, but realistically, a huge amount of change can't happen in three weeks. Probably, technique- wise, this course will introduce the tools, and then it will be my prerogative to go out there and expound on these tools and practice them. Mostly, I'm hoping that this course will help me tap into an honest, free, and uninhibited emotional place. That's where I have a lot of trouble. I don't connect well to things, sometimes, and then when things have to get heated and emotional onstage, my work becomes very manufactured. I hope this course will help with that. I am realizing that I can't force things; it's better to be understated and honest than dramatic and untruthful. My classmates join me in being in perpetual awe of everything we learn. We are growing as a group, and it is so, so cool to see the others learn and grow, and so, so amazing to know that we all support each other-- that I am supported by them-- and there is little judgment, and much compassion.
Despite the fact that I am in a city, that I have several things I’m working on for the course, Ball State homework to do, and other groups I want to visit and research, life here is simpler. I have to admit, I like it. There’s not so much I have to do. I don’t know if I could do this for forever, though; I would start to feel as if I were missing out on too much. But maybe not. It’s nice being able to focus well on a number of things. I’m able to relax and socialize without feeling that I am not going to be able to get everything done at a high level of quality. Also, I have gotten plenty of sleep. Now, part of this may be psychological. This is still my summer. Even though it’s a course, I don’t have the same demands as I would at my actual college, or even if I were at real drama school. I have taken mental pressure off myself. If this were a permanent setup, I would have to get a job, look for outside projects, worry more about living costs, etc. Plus, it would all start to wear on me after a while, after it had all built up.
My friends are amazing. This is the part where it's hard to believe that only a week has passed. We are all already so, so close. That's a thing with performing artists though; we love and connect quickly. (Okay, well maybe I don't so much, but everybody else does so much that it's hard not to let them draw you in!) In the drama world, you have to leap into a show or a class-- which is an intimate sort of thing-- and very quickly become close and connected and open. I hope we are all able to stay in touch after this course, because these people are all so loving and fun and interesting and talented. Most of us are either in University somewhere or working jobs. Most everyone either eventually wants to get in to Drama School, or are just wanting to see what it's like. There are people who are more music theatre who want to improv acting (like Lysanne), and others who have done a lot with film, but little with stage (like my friend Amber, who models and just got back from NYC doing a Coach perfume shoot and also was in a major commercial in London!). It's neat how international it all is, even though most of us are from Western countries. English is not the first language for a good portion of the people here.
As the adventure continues, I'll try to have more posts like this. I can't do it often; it takes time to get enough to step back and analyze. Plus, nobody wants to read big chunks like this more than a few times,if even that much! :)
I hope this has shed a little more light on what precisely I'm doing at the Guildhall School!