Next Generation – Day 4

We were all very excited because day 4 was devoted to spending time with Iqbal Khan, who recently directed Tartuffe and Othello at the RSC. Iqbal was brilliant and we tarted by looking at the Othello scene and the death of Desdemona. We talked through the text and really unpicked the scene bit by bit.

We then looked at staging the scene and how we would put it together. We looked at the power of music to influence a scene and how a performer can use music to create character. We also looked at how we can use audience response to change a characters mindset.

We then had the amazing opportunity to split in to two groups to truly investigate the scene. Two people took on the roles and the other three directed the scene. We then got a chance to review and reflect on the work of others. It was powerful to watch the scenes and how different directors made different decisions and the effect of these decisions.

The visit to the costume department in the afternoon was an eye opener! We had not seen so many costumes in one space before and it was huge! The department were so good with us and answered a barrage of questions. We could not believe how many different ‘things’ there were in the costume department. We also got a chance to visit ‘The Plays The Thing’ and to see the story of the RSC and the history of such a great organisation. Just brilliant!

Conversations in the car

We talked a lot in the car about what it takes to work in the creative industries and what it is like to lead. These conversations sprung out of the many opportunities we were given to work with exceptional people. We loved the fact that we have been given time to debate, discuss and challenge ideas in an environment where we feel safe and secure. We felt that the work we have done on Shakespeare texts has been great and it has opened our eyes to the many possibilities that exists. The fact that we are working with Intermission has been one of the best things about the course. Being able to see how another youth theatre think and to be able to work with them has been amazing. Every adult that has worked with us has shown us respect and has allowed us to express our opinions and we truly feel very privileged to have this experience. For many of us this is the first time we have ever had access to this experience, and it has truly changed our outlook. We definitely feel that we can take these skills and build upon them and we all want to direct something as soon as possible!

Next Generation Direct – Day 3

We started the day by being introduced to the amazing Prasanna Puwanarajah (Director of Venice Preserved) and James Cotterill (Designer of Venice Preserved). They went through the design process and talked in detail about the challenges they faced with he play. They talked about how they come up with he decisions and the way they constructed the world of the play.

We were very lucky to get a chance to see all the drawings and designs for the production and to talk about the costume decisions. We also got to see the model for the stage and to see how the model can be used in rehearsal. We were then set a task to try and create a ‘world’ for Macbeth and this started with looking at the play and discussing some of the issues we would have if we tried to stage it.

We then split off in to groups and we had to come up with a stage design for Macbeth. We also had to look how we would solve some of the ‘problems’ in the play. These were how we would present the witches, the ghost of Banquo, the setting of the play and the march of Burnham Wood.

Once we had created our ideas we then had to feed these back to Prasanna and James and they asked questions and gave us constructive feedback. It was so good to have the chance to share our ideas and to have industry professionals talk to us about our views and opinions. It was a truly brilliant session and we were so excited about some of the ideas that we created.

The afternoon was split in to two parts. The first part was working with Olly on the key principles that are needed when directing a performer. This was a chance to get a professional actors perspective of what they would like from a director. It was also a chance to really understand what is meant by leadership in a rehearsal room. We were also given difficult scenarios and we were asked to see how we would respond as directors. This was very difficult because there were no right or wrong answers.

The second part was to have the privilege of sitting in on Merchant of Venice First Encounters rehearsal We got to see Robin Bellfield direct a group of professional actors through some very difficult scenes. This was remarkable;e, to be in a rehearsal studio and to see the dynamics and how it works. Many of us just wanted to stay there forever!

The day ended on an absolute high with Abs, assistant director on Merchant, coming in and talking to us about the path that she has chosen and the decisions she has made. What made it extra special was that Abs used to be at Intermission Youth Theatre so she could talk about how she went from there to working in a professional environment.

We all had a great evening out at Nando’s and the Silhouette and Intermission young people shared and laughed in to the evening!

Things we learnt

  • The process that a director and designer go through before the rehearsal even begins – trust between director and designer
  • Leadership – concept of trust, honesty, importance of different aspects in a rehearsal room
  • In a professional rehearsal room, it’s a collaborative effort, rather than a dictatorship – people have to agree, but strong leadership sometimes needed, balance 
  • You shouldn’t leave a thought process halfway through, having a starting point, come prepared with a least one solution to an issue

Favourite parts J

  • Listening to the different concepts of Macbeth – different perspectives
  • Venice Preserved – explaining vision, using Spotify, Pinterest etc
  • Merchant of Venice rehearsal – difference between Erica’s and Robin’s rehearsal rooms

Improving on

  • Sense of play, being able to relax, value of play in a productive space
  • Being able to be professional when needed, not getting distracted
  • Strong leadership – confident in what they’re doing
  • Trusting the ideas that I have

Next Generation Direct – Day 2

On the way to day 2 we talked about how amazing the day before was. We couldn’t wait for day 2 and we knew that we would be working on text throughout the day. Many of us were still interested in the Measure for Measure text from the day before and we were dicussing how much we enjoyed the experience.

In the morning we got the opportunity to do a Shakespeare Gym session. It was fascinating! We looked at ways of physically engaging with the text and how to make sure that we understand how the words need to be made clear and precise. We did a great activity where we hit the floor on the last word so that our voices didn’t just trail off. This was a great way of making sure that the text would make sense. It was really good to have the time to explore and play with words and sentences and we learnt a lot about the power of words.

In the afternoon we had a session with Erica to talk about the Measure for Measure scene that caused such a debate the day before. We spent a lot of time talking and debating the scene and the way characters were feeling. We also had the chance to unpick the characters motivation and the way we would talk the text. We then put it on its feet and looked at the use of space and how the characters use this space to create the emotion.

The last session of the day was an inspirational speech by Joanna Abeyie. She discussed her life and the choices she has made. She talked about how she came from a very difficult background and managed to make the right decisions and choices along the way. She talked about the power of being positive and that you had to take charge of the decisions you make. It was great to hear someone speak so passionately about what can be achieved and she was funny, energetic and an absolute pleasure to talk to. We loved the exercise when we talked about our motivation and what we want from our lives. Here are a few notes we made about the day:

Things we learnt

  • Can’t/don’t give up, have to keep pushing, put the work in
  • Leadership – you have to be ok and happy with yourself, self love not just confidence
  • Ways to make actors pick up last words on lines – hitting the ground/clapping last word etc
  • Finding your own motivation – people have different ways to motivate themselves

Favourite parts J

  • Shakespeare Gym – language – Anna talking about the sonnets, knowledge, meanings of the words, acting through just text, importance of individual words
  • Measure for Measure debate – different perspectives, no right or wrong, no actual answers, emotive
  • Workshopping the scene from Hamlet – different, bonding with Intermission group
  • The whole day in general was great and we all really enjoyed it! J

Improving on

  • Ask more questions, be more inquisitive
  • Workshopping and directing things more
  • Insert yourself more

Next Generation Direct Day 1

On Monday 9th September we (Ashleigh, Janet, Amelia and Jade) went to the RSC in Stratford upon avon to start our journey with Next Generation Direct. We talked about our expectations on the drive to the RSC and we were excited, but nervous, about what the next 5 days would be about. We knew we would be meeting actors, directors and professionals from the RSC and we were very excited to do so.

We also knew that we would be working with a group of young people from Intermission Theatre and we had heard about how amazing they were from Leigh. He had spoken to us about Darren Raymond and the work they do with Shakespeare. We all knew how lucky we were to have this opportunity and we were going to try our best to learn as much as we could over the five days.

The day started in the Clore centre, where we had been before and it was like coming back home. Many of us have spent time in Stratford over the years and we love the place. We met Erica Whyman, Georgia White and Darren Raymond and we took part in a range of games to bring us all together. We then had the incredible opportunity to hear how Erica and Darren had started on their road to be directors. It was fascinating how the paths were very different but the views and opinions were exactly the same.

We explored what we thought the most important parts of creating a rehearsal room were and we created a breakdown of all our ideas. It was great to all talk about our ideas and feelings we seemed to draw together as a group very quickly.

In the afternoon we had a tour of the Swan and the RST and we were blown away by the spaces. The tour was unbelievable and it was so good to hear the stories from Darren who was part of the Tempest cast. We could not believe how many people worked at the RSC and how many lights and backstage equipment they have. We looked at the wigs, blood and all the other magical parts of theatre.

We then had the honour and privilege of spending time in Erica’s rehearsal room for Museum of Baghdad. This was an incredible experience. To see professional actors and a director working on a script was something we had not seen and we picked up so many tips. Just wow!

As we drove home at the end of the day Amelia made notes in the car about our day – have a look!

Things we learnt

We learnt that everyone has their own directing style – some are more accustomed to one style to another. Directing can be really personal, as personal as acting; directors can often project themselves into their work without noticing. It’s important to have a safe rehearsal space, as your cast have to be comfortable enough to push themselves and others if needed.

Difficulties L

– The exercise with Erica

– Awkwardness, uncomfortable

– There’s a difference between silence of a performance and awkward silence

– Viewing yourself in your mind

– Consciousness of yourself, aware of breathing etc

Favourite parts

– Rehearsal room – seeing how everything worked

– Meeting people with different experiences (Intermission)

– Backstage tour

– Inspiration from Erica- trying to make a difference even on a small audience

– Working in the spaces

Where do we want this to go?

  • Reflection on projects/things we’ve done
  • Opportunities to work with the RSC/NextGen Act cast
  • Watch more work
  • One to ones/QnA’s with directors/cast
  • Press nights
  • Watch each other’s pieces

Romeo and Juliet Tour – Day 1

We started our tour by having a discussion about the day ahead. It was obvious that everyone was nervous, but excited at the same time. We talked about the importance of telling a story and the fact that this play is incredibly relevant to today’s young people.

We then had to sort out all our props and costumes for the tour and we had to all take ownership of one piece of equipment. We then had to magically pack all this in to the mini bus, which was like playing tetris. Especially with some of the cast who have no practical understanding of space – no names – Teejay!

We then set off to perform at Lings Primary School. The reason we started there is that this is the birthplace of LPAA and almost half the cast used to attend the school. It was great to be back on hallowed ground and to be in a hall that has seen so many exceptional productions in its time. The welcome was superb and the first audience were amazing.

They really understood the play because they had just finished studying it. It was great to see our Ambassadors talk to every child before the production started and the interaction meant that everyone was comfortable front he beginning.

The performance went well. It was weird as it was the first time we had an audience that was young. It was also the first performance of the tour – so it felt strange. The Queen Man speech between Sahib, George and Dorcas was a particular favourite. All the deaths scenes were very impressive and the audience really felt the emotion on stage, there were definite tears in the house.

We then packed up and off we went to Roade Primary School. We had an hour to sit back, relax and have some lunch. It was great to catch up and talk about old times and the productions we have done in our schools. We also talked about how we could improve not he next production and we did a review and reflection session.

It was also really nice to have some time to talk to Mr Currell and Sally and to find out that many of the children had never seen Shakespeare before. This made it even more exciting because it was our mission to introduce them to the play.

As they came in our Ambassadors spoke to them and made them feel welcome. The play went really well and it was interesting to perform in a whole new space. We were all very tired but we gave it 100% and I was impressed by how focussed the audience was.

We then packed up once again – and returned home to Silhouette. Here is what some of the cast have to say:

It was really exciting and it was nice to see that we could take all our rehearsals and put the play on. I learnt how to use the space more and how to perform in different venues – Thomas.

It was really surprising to see how captivated the audience were. It is just a hall and they have to concentrate for a long time. I was amazed that they could do this – Sayana.

It was good to see everyone pull and work together to create a really good show that tells a powerful story. It was great to see that the children understood every word – David.

It was a new experience and I am glad I got the opportunity to do it. I am tired and I am aching – George.

Romeo and Juliet

The journey started when we went to audition for the RSC production of Romeo and Juliet in 2018. We were incredibly lucky as 12 of our young people got a chance to be in the main production. This meant that we spent a lot of time IN stratford performing on the main stage – which was incredible.

When we came back we decided as a group that we would like to put on our own production of Romeo and Juliet in Northampton. We also decided that it would be a great idea to take the tour around to local school as they were studying Romeo and Juliet at the time.

We have been working in three casts so that as many people as possible get a chance to be on stage for the longest amount of time. The tour starts next week and we are very excited!