Skip to content

‘Introduction to Actor Training’ – Week 8

  • by

Today, we began by reflecting on the week before. Reflection is vital in creating an understanding on what has gone before, and how it ties into what we are doing now. We looked at the first sequence of Nadine George once more. It was interesting how different it was, I had much more tension this time so found it harder to relax. Working with Rowan again I also identified how she had gained in confidence throughout the process. It was clear that the process is always in a state of flux, there is no definite amount that you can take away from it. It can always change.

We continued looking at breath technique from Nadine, previously we were working in pairs and it was quite an internal process but this exercise was as a whole class, as an ensemble. There was a great sense of life and concentration throughout the circle.

We began to walk around the room, but continuing the same rhythm of breathing as before. I noticed that it required more focus to maintain a consistent rhythm of breath when also focusing on movement. On each breath, we changed direction – being clear and definitive in both the breath and direction. We explored being in the moment as ourselves, rather than being switched off, automatically. We noted how that changed the breath; it was more focused and loose. This exercise also demonstrated special awareness within the stage – we were concentrating on our path and power, but must at all times be aware of everyone else in the room. We made definitive movements with purpose as once again, if there is no purpose then it should not happen.

We began to connect with partners once more; walking around the room, on a clap we met with a partner, grabbing wrists and breathing together, putting the arms up on the out breath. There was a clear different sense depending on who you did it with. It was never the same “feeling”. Making eye contact with the partner, one could easily infer meaning and relationship each time, but it was important to let the breath lead, two bodies as one.

Next, we met with a partner and embraced in a hug. Once again, we breathed together as one. It was strange not having eye contact. It seemed to remove notions of person and personality. I noted that as we don’t usually hug someone without a given contextual reason to do (friendship, love,comfort etc etc) for me there was a clear sensation of life and power, not from the self as it was in the first sequence but from the other person. There was a clear feeling of their power and life force. It was incredibly profound experience.

Next, we moved onto the four levels of voice as set down by Nadine George’s research

Deep Male in the stomach on the vowel AW
High Male in the chest on the vowel AH
Deep female in the chest on the Vowel OO
High female in the head connected to the stomach on the vowel AH

On each type of breathe, we performed the sound in 3 or 4 notes higher and lower. Though we weren’t looking for pitch perfect notes, it was about the sound. We also added each of the lines, trying to deliver them from the level given. It’s difficult, it’s not an exact science, and it’s about “feeling” it and believing it. I found myself most comfortable with the Deep Male and High Female voice qualities – I feel they have a similar quality and relationship which is quite close.

Finally, we looked at the Macbeth text again from last week, Susan choose pairs and we began reading it in character, trying to embody those things we had learn about breath and noise. She reminded us of the energy exchange and how that has to keep going, it is what keeps the other actor going. She began to add certain parameters for the characters, for example, my parameters for Macbeth were all of my questions were actually statements and I was utterly mad. It was pretty astounding. I’ve realised Susan has a distinct capability of identifying what is strong in an individual and what is perhaps not as strong and allowing you to discover and reflect upon it. I felt a real emotional connection when watching the power and transformation in Rowan, Kirsty, Suzanne and Alison’s Lady Macbeth. Each different, but each incredibly powerful. I was genuinely impressed and more so inspired. The notion of the exercise ensured there was as much to learn participating as there was in watching and reflection.