Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bad graduate student, bad!!!

Okay... so here I am... I'm hanging my head in shame... it has been an embarrassingly long time since I have posted one of these guys.  I don't know if it's better or worse that I had a post mostly finished that never seemed to get complete and thus never posted.  Take what you will.  I have, a TON, to talk about.  It has been crazy crazy awesome here.  I have loved (almost) every moment, and if I haven't been loving it, it's because it's challenging and therefore a little frustrating at times.  However, incredibly positive thus far.

Our first real project was to work on a "classic" choral piece.  There were two groups, one group worked on an actual classic Greek piece, the other group worked on a play written in 2005 or 2006 that was written to be designed for a very open interpretation, including a choral piece.  I was in the contemporary group.  It had a lot of challenge involved.  No stage direction, no clear parts, no precise way of determining who was talking and when.  So it provided a ton of freedom, which, I feel sometimes offers a ton of problems.  Our group was amazing though.  We trusted each other, we fed off of each others ideas and continued to build a wonderful piece in the end.

After the choral piece, we began work on realism and the Stanislavsky technique.  This is still where we are... It has been... intense/stressful/revealing/enjoyable/scary/sad.  Take anyone of those, and I'm sure it's happened to me once in the last like 6 hours.  We have been delving deep into characters and attempting to make them us... us them? Who knows, but the exercises have all been designed to make sure our "blobbies" our showing... Wait... our "blobbies"?  Is that a technical term?  In these classes? Yes.  Our "blobby" is basically a term for our vulnerable self.  We have been encouraged to break down all walls, and be incredibly vulnerable with our acting partners, attempting to bring out raw feelings which will hopefully inspire our performances later on.  This is where things get... a little... raw.

Each one of us has had to endure exercises while showing our blobby and being subjected to what someone else may do to your blobby.  For instance, one popular activity starts with us walking around the room in random directions and speeds.  Our professor introduces a tennis ball or two and encourages us to give it to someone walking by.  As the activity progresses, you become your character walking around the room.  The ball then takes on a different meaning.  Giving or receiving the ball from someone may have really huge consequences.  The ball could be money, love, or even hate.  It quickly becomes an exercise where people are using their character wants/desires/needs in order to get the ball from other people.  Add another layer that some characters would just not give it to another means some people are fighting for that ball with 3 other people, praying they will receive it from a certain character.  This is a moment where it's really hard for me in particular.  My character is pretty much at the bottom of the totem pole.  I have no real way to persuade people to give me the ball.  My character also owes most people in the show money.  So whenever I get the ball, I can't hold on to it, I need to give it away almost  before I get it.  This has rough consequences in that as soon as I give the ball away, no one is around afterwards, and my character is lonely again.

Now, I know what you are saying.  It's a ball.  How much can it mean?  Honestly, too much.  When we really invest in what the ball is to us, it means SOOOOOOOO much when it's given to you, or witheld from you.  It has been incredibly tiring.  In an amazing, educational, "I wish it were over" kind of way.  It is emotionally taxing.  Another exercise we did today was to invent improv scenes that were similarly linked to events in the play.  The scene our group decided to improv was an imaginary scene where one of the characters' nephews died.  (Spelling and grammar on that sentence up for debate).  Anyway, so we start improv-ing it.  It started after the funeral.  6 of us in the group.  Silence.  For what seemed like... 10 minutes... I'm sure it was 2, but it seemed like a long time.  Then one of the girls asked for us to say something.  One person said "Nice service" and was shot down.  The only thing I could come up with to say was to recommend we all get tickets to the christmas pantomime (a show that usually tells a fun fairy tale story).  It was as honest a suggestion that I could have made.  Everyone burst out laughing.  Like... tons of it.  Normally, I would love to make people laugh like that.  This was not normal though.  I had really wanted to make anyone feel better in any sense of the word.  It was my best attempt. I really put my blobby out there... and I was laughed at.  A lot.  I broke down.  I was almost bawling.  On top of that, I kept thinking of Jack, the baby of some incredibly close friends.  What it would be like if he were to have an accident.  It. Was. Rough.

Things like this have happened regularly over the last week and a half.

On a more positive note, we had an amazing Shakespeare meeting on Saturday.  It was sooooooo cool.  A lot of it was things I knew, but it was such a wonderful break from some of the other things we had been working on.

I could keep this going for so long it's not even funny, so I'll end on one final note.  I have submitted my research ideas and they have been approved.  Well, one was approved right off the bat.  Commedia Del'Arte.  What has become of it, and where it could go, specifically if it could work in a contemporary theatre scene.  Glasgow is really a modern and happening theatre scene.  I am even able to set up a practical research about it and cast a commedia piece and do it on the streets of Glasgow.  I was quite thrilled to have it approved.  Anyway, I'll make sure I'm better than... once a month...

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