So after the whirl of freshers week and course induction, this Thursday we became CTP students officially. Yoga mats in hand and hangovers shaken off we headed to the CCA theatre for our first sessions with Kevin Egan and Nancy Reilly.
For the first hour we had a vocal workshop with Kevin, beginning with warm ups that allowed us to pull ridiculous faces and make some very odd noises. Once suitably warmed up (and minus any previous inhibitions) we began to explore the timbre of our voices. Using a piece of poetry we contorted our bodies in order to extend and crush and bend the parts of our body that create our voice, i.e. the lungs, throat, etc. This demonstrated the importance of posture in relation to the sound that we want to make.
Using the same text we then went on to look at volume, particularly the range of volumes we can use when performing. We explored the scale between quiet and loud (and when I say loud, I mean headrush LOUD).
After a short break we began our session with Nancy. She took us through the outline of the unit (using moodle, of course) covering the unit structure and how we’re assessed At this early stage it all seems very far away but I’m sure it’ll creep up on us.
Then we began the dreaded yoga. As someone who has done basically zero physical exercise since the age of 11 I was not looking forward to contorting my body into crazy positions, but I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable it was. Once you get over the fact you can’t touch your toes and really focus on the pattern of movements and breathing it’s a lot of fun. We learned the “salutation of the sun” A&B and repeated them for what seemed like an infinite time. Once sufficiently knackered out, we lay down in the relaxation pose and released all the tension from our bodies, forgetting the stress of spending a week with strangers and learning how not to burn ready meals, and filled ourselves with a golden light in order to fully relax. Usually I would scoff at such an exercise but it really worked and I felt like I was almost floating when we left the building. Exercise does make you feel good and I’m sure I’ll fully understand the importance of focus, fitness and flexibility as a performer by the end of the unit.
This morning we met Nancy again, away from the safety of the studios we are getting so used to and deep within the darkest depths of the more traditional classrooms at the uni. Due to technical difficulties we couldn’t rely on the ever-faithful Moodle, nor be given a demonstration on what creating our blogs would entail, but instead we were given an introduction into working collaboratively. This was mainly focused on roles within rehearsals and solving conflict in a collaborative theatre environment.
Nancy described Straus’s roles (Agenda Keeper, Note keeper and facilitator) and how they would apply in our own rehearsals so right from the very start we could work in the most effective way to build pieces using a tried and tested method. Also, rehearsal rules were established and noted down- so there can be no excuse!
We then went on to explore Debono’s “6 hats” approach to solving conflict. Each hat forces the metaphorical “wearer” to think a certain way in response to the problem, e.g. wearing the yellow hat would prompt them to think positively about the problem whereas the black had would prompt them to think negatively. We applied the use of this method within scenarios in groups and then shared it with the rest of the class, often with rather amusing consequences (and quite a lot of talk about cat ladies). Eventually a solution was reached in every instance, which sometimes meant further discussion would be needed in the future, but generally everybody was happy and we left the room as a happy, harmonious group (let’s see how long that lasts…)
As I write this I am aching from yoga aftermath and rather mentally exhausted from having to dive back into structured education after a year of generally being a slob, but I am looking forward to not only next week, but also the next year.