Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Pictures, Posts and Progress

HEY

this post is a little different to usual

Basically, Gavin emailed the link to the blog to the National Theatre Connections people, and they liked it!

So they asked me to write a post for their blog... which was really exciting! However quite daunting and i had noooo idea what to write...

But first, here's some rehearsal pictures from this week, we made good progress, we ran over what we had already set and we set some more.




Ryan wearing Holly's hair... 

So, my post for the National Theatre Connections blog. 

Here's what I wrote:

My name's Greg and I'm taking part in the NT Connections Programme this year, for the second time.
I have been involved in Connections before in 2012, playing Dave in Generation Next by Meera Syal which was an incredible experience!
This time I'm going to be playing Douglas in Daffyd James' Heritage. This is a really exciting play, which "explores the darker side of nationalism."

The vast majority of our rehearsals so far have been sat (or stood) in circles.

We have spent thirty six hours of rehearsals; without actually doing any rehearsing.
Instead, we have spent hours understanding, analysing and discussing the play. - It's all a bit English Lit if you know what I mean.

However most of us like English Lit so s'all good.

We spent a lot of the time reading through the script, each time we had a task to do. The first time was a straight read through.
I've forgotten an important detail... - Gavin thought it would be a great idea to not tell us our characters until we a week before we started to set; meaning that we spent most of these rehearsals in anticipation. (However in hindsight it was actually a good idea as we became more understanding of the play as a whole and of other character's perspectives)

How did you do a read through when you don't know your character? I hear you begging for my theatrical wisdom.
Well 
...We just read it through line by line in a circle...
Duh



We read through the script once again. Instead of writing down facts, we broke the play into smaller sections, - similar to scenes - calling them units. Inside these units we would mark events in the script that affect every character on stage. This technique was actually really useful, not only did it break down the play into separate sections, it consequently made it easier to learn lines, - which is always a bonus!

We also made a timeline of events leading up to the start of the play. We used post-it notes and stuck them on the mirror, however they weren't sticky enough and kept falling off. It was my job to order them correctly and write down the dates, so of course it was me, running around, flapping like a chicken trying to pick them up and stick them back on as more from the other side would fall down.

Including lots of sitting down in circles, we played some games and did many activities.

In one of the games, we had to stand (in a circle) and throw two balls to each other. When we threw the first ball, we had to shout the characters' name, and when we threw the second, we had to shout out a theme of the play. This was all well and good, until some bright spark thought it would be a great idea to include both balls at the same time...
...well what can i say, theatre kids and physical activity aren't a good mix.


Gavin then put us into pairs, with people that we hadn't really worked with much before. I was put with Amie (which was quite funny because I've known her since primary school but ssshhhh don't tell Gavin!) We had to talk about how we found/find school/college, a time in our lives where we have been scared and what we want to get out of the National Theatre Connections experience.
· I said about how for the first two years of school i was a bit of a loser, - I mean, my MUM did used to do my hair...
· Then I said about about when you're little and you lose your mum in Tescos, - that's scary. (I still do it though)
· Then I said about how the Connections programme is so exciting and also so much fun. I like the idea of fully developing characters, understanding and interpreting the key themes and contexts of the play.


Our exercises then went up a notch in difficulty. We focused on our voice and the way we talk. We sat down (in another circle) and we went round the group, talking about how our voice changes when we're in different social situations. We then did an exercise where we had to read out some of the script. At every full stop we had to stamp our foot down and then change direction. At every comma we had to simply change direction, and at every question mark we had to swivel around. I tried doing this in front of the group, on my first attempt I rushed and I struggled. Then I slowed it down and tried again and it actually really helped to understand the structuring of the characters thoughts, and added much more meaning.

Oh man,
the next weekend we finally did some setting.


It was sooo cool to get the play (literally) on its feet. We worked on the opening pages, I can tell from the beginning its going to be so much fun.

For those that don't know about Connections (I can imagine most of you do), you start off performing at your local theatre. Then you move onto a Partner Theatre, - ours is in Norwich. The way that we are setting and the way we are formatting the play is very different to conventional methods. (No I'm not telling you'll have to come see!) This is really exciting however it could be hard work adjusting when we're actually in the theatre.


Thanks a lot for reading!
Greg :)

- check out my blog for weekly (ish) updates on how we're getting along!

Thanks for reading, see ya sometime next week.

Monday, 20 January 2014

The One where Greg took loads of Photos

Now we're back at school/college/wherever, Tomorrow's Talent classes have started up again for the spring term. This means that there is now less rehearsal time for Heritage at the weekend (boo).

However, we're now starting to get really stuck in with the setting of the play.

Last weekend we ran through what we did set previously a couple of times, each time trying out news ways, playing with blocking.

Here's some rehearsal pictures:

(Gavin giving us a little brief)


(Here's me being very serious.)

(Here's Charlotte not being so serious
- However Elouise is very, very serious.)

(Here's me and Ryan being homies for life. - sorry its a bit blurry)

We also met up after TT class on the Sunday just gone. We ran what we had already done a few times, once again, trying different things every time to see what works best. Then we carried on with the next ten or so pages of the script. It was good fun, my character has quite a few funny lines in this section. There is a really good part where my character starts to realise what is going on in the village that he and all the other characters are living in, which is going to be really interesting to work with.

Here's some more snaps

(Me and Alex chillin')

(#selfie #duringaseriousscene #yolo)


Here I tried to make a panorama shot but it failed a bit. I'll do a better one next time I swear.

Thanks a lot for reading! 

Greg

Monday, 13 January 2014

Hangovers, hot seats and hard work

For this post, - I'm actually going to start with the night before rehearsals (controversial i know). Friday the third of January was the day of Charlotte Barlow's eighteenth birthday party. Including Charlotte and myself, there were also some other Heritage cast members there, plus some people that I hadn't seen for a while so that was good fun.

The drama lot all stayed over Charlottes and ssooooommee peoples heads hurt in the morning. (Not mine actually.) Charlotte, Isabelle, Ollie and I all trooped along to rehearsals in Charlotte's dads car, rocking up with messy hair, smelly armpits, and one or two hangovers. (Once again, not me. - I'm a good boy)
Despite being a little tired, we were actually really excited to rehearse, - i for one had started to get withdrawal symptoms.

SATURDAY

This was our first rehearsal back since before Christmas, so we were more than eager to get stuck in with setting the play.

Guess what.
                                  On Saturday,


We didn't set any of the play.

Nope.

Instead, Gavin thought that what we would like better than anything else in the world is to sit in a line, and individually come up and hot seat our characters.

Hot seating is vile. 
(However it is actually really useful)

Hot seating involves a member of cast sitting on a chair in front everrryyyooonnnneee, in their character. Everyone else then proceeds to ask them ten million questions, about literally anything, i said it's vile because its actually really hard, you have to try and think like your character, on the spot. 

And if your name's Ollie, you deliberately ask the poor person up there questions that will throw them. 

I'll give you a quick idea of the kinda guy that Ollie is:



I literally have no words to say, those pictures sum him up perfectly...
(He's gonna kill me)

Anyway, back on topic. Yes, hot seating. Despite my moaning it's actually a really useful tool to help engage with your character, - and it's quite funny when someone messes up!

We then rehearsed the Anthem again, however we had to sit down and wait for a bit because SOME people...

(These ones.)


...couldn't get their part right. 
But it sounded siiiick in the end so s'all good.

For the rest of the Saturday rehearsal we sat in a circle and we read through the script. Instead of writing down facts, we broke the play into smaller sections, - similar to scenes - calling them units. Inside these units we would mark events in the script that affect every character on stage. 

(Here's a very serious picture of people doing some very serious thinking.)

SUNDAY

So, Sunday. After a proper nights sleep and a warm shower, I headed back to rehearsals.

We carried on reading through the script marking the events and the units. This time it looks like a lot more fun:




This technique was actually really useful, not only did it break down the play into separate sections, it consequently made it easier to learn lines, - which is always a bonus! 

Next, we made a timeline of events leading up to the start of the play. We used post-it notes and stuck them on the mirror, however they weren't sticky enough and kept falling off. It was my job to order them correctly and write down the dates, so of course it was me, running around, flapping like a chicken trying to pick them up and stick them back on as more from the other side would fall down.

 (Here's Jess putting up a post-it note.)


We then did some more hot seating, it was really interesting as it was the first time that we got to see the character of Cari-Ann Chubb. The picture below shows Hazel hot seating as Cari-Ann, and you can also just about see the timeline in the background on the floor (We moved it down because we got fed up of picking the post-it notes up).

(Hazel, and the timeline on the floor.)

Hey, guess what happened next.

No, we didn't set.

We sat and worked out each character's intention for the first unit. For each event marked on the script, our character would have a change of intention. 




...



Oh man, we finally did some acting. 

We are approaching the setting of the play completely differently to conventional methods. Instead of having the director mark out every single character movement, Gavin is giving us initial total free reign. This means that for the first couple of runs through the scene, we move wherever and whenever we want, the only things we need to stick to are our intentions and our lines (duh).

We just had time to work through the opening of the play, it was really interesting to try out different ways of moving around the space, seeing what worked the best.



So, all the table (English Lit) work was all over. Although I have moaned about it many a time, it was actually really insightful and contributed hugely to our understanding of the play; its key themes/contexts, and its characters. Despite the hard work, it was also a massive laugh, everybody in the Heritage cast are such good fun. 

Now, we embark on our journey to the end of the play! It's gonna be good fun! 

GREG.






Thursday, 2 January 2014

Twas The Rehearsal before Christmas...

Hi there!

Firstly i would like to apologise for not posting in a while, im not sure ive actually sat down since the beginning of the Christmas holidays. Our last heritage rehearsals were a couple of weeks ago before we took a break for Christmas. 

On Saturday we started with a gentle warm up to wake up a bit, and a vocal warm up to get us thinking about how to use our mouths. 




We then read through the script and picked out important information to help our understanding of the play, and asking questions about its nature; to help develop strong and meaningful interpretations. We did this by calling out "FAAAACCCTTTT!" whenever a fact came up in the script, this took the majority of the day; there were 130 facts - i cant even imagine how many questions there were! 



We then spent the rest of the day rehearsing the "Northbridge Anthem", a song which has been drilled into the characters' heads, one which they are under the impression they must practice and perform to the rest of the village as part of the the mayday celebrations. The anthem has a four part harmony, so after we learnt our parts we sang it whilst walking around the rehearsal room, hearing all the other parts whilst trying to keep singing our own. Just like this:


After Saturday's rehearsals - in the evening - Gavin finally posted the cast list! Unfortunately for me i was at work so i didn't get to find out until about eleven when i had finished!
Here it is:

Sundays rehearsal started, like normal, with a vocal and physical warm up. We had been given homework from the previous week, we picked a character's name out of a hat and we had to research them and come up with our own interpretations about them. We then fed back to the group, discussing and debating our ideas about individual characters. It was a bit English Lit. However i like English Lit so it was good! This exercise took a while because we could not agree on anything! 

After we fed back our homework, we did an exercise where we would decide who our characters' enemies and allies were. We then stood up in the room and arranged ourselves so that our ally stood in the way of our enemy. This got quite complicated as we had to keep moving around!

We then did our first read through of the play as our characters, which was a lot of fun! Here's a picture:


 That was our rehearsals over for the weekend and for the year. It had been a really good start to the play, we had made a lot of progress over the first few rehearsals. Our understanding of the main themes and individual characters has improved massively. 
It was nice to have a break but i cant wait to start up again! Our next rehearsal is this Saturday, the fourth of January.

Thanks for reading, 

Greg :)


 - Here's cast member Jack dressed as a dinosaur!


- Also, it was Mark's birthday on the Sunday! Happy Birthday Mark!



Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Circles

The vast majority of this weekend was spent sat (or stood) in circles. 

(Here's some of us in a circle)


We met up both Saturday and Sunday to rehearse; however we didn't do any rehearsing. 

On both days, we started with a classic Gavin Wilkinson warm up, then had a general chat about life.
Over the course of the weekend we did many performance development exercises and games. 
We kicked off the exercises on Saturday with the world- renowned name game, in which, may i add, for the first time ever; i won! (so did Hazel). We then played a game using an oversized tennis ball and a foam ball. With the first one we had to shout a character's (in the play) name as we threw it to the next person. With the other we had to shout a theme of the play whilst throwing it to another person. These created a cycle and it was really confusing - have you ever seen theatre kids trying to throw and catch? It's priceless!
Gavin then put us into pairs, with people that we hadn't really worked with much before. I was put with Amie (which was quite funny because I've known her since primary school but ssshhhh don't tell Gavin!) We had to talk about how we found/find school/college, a time in our lives where we have been scared and what we want to get out of the National Theatre Connections experience. 
  • I said about how for the first two years of school i was a bit of a loser, - i mean, my MUM did used to do my hair... 
  • Then i said about about when you're little and you lose your mum in Tescos, - that's scary. (I still do it though)
  • Then i said about how the connections programme is so exciting and also so much fun. I like the idea of fully developing characters, understanding and interpreting the key themes and contexts of the play.
On the Sunday our exercises went up a notch in difficulty. We focused on our voice and the way we talk. We sat down (in another circle) and we went round the group, talking about how our voice changes when we're in different social situations. 
We then did an exercise where we had to read out some of the script. At every full stop, we had to stamp our foot down and then change direction. At every comma we had to simply change direction, and at every question mark we had to swivel around. I tried doing this in front of the group, on my first attempt i rushed and i struggled. Then i slowed it down and tried again and it actually really helped to understand the structuring of the characters thoughts, and added much more meaning.
Next we split into boys and girls and we did an exercise focused on different levels of intensity. The girls went first and they each individually performed losing something. They were put in a random order, and us boys had to line them up according to how intense their feelings were. (may i add that we got them all right).
Then it was our go, we had to do disappointment, - may i add that the girls got it completely wrong.
We each had another go and the next time round, we were all a lot more understanding of how each level should be played.

(Here's Gavin having a chat with Mark and Joe.)

Gavin had set us homework to do, researching the context and the themes of the play. These ranged from looking at Nazi Germany and the Hitler Youth to Cult Suicide (a bit depressing i know but i promise the play is funny!) we all sat and chilled while talking about each others research, writing notes and asking questions.

(Here's some chilling and researching)

We had a really fun and useful weekend, and a lot of chocolate and mince pies were eaten. Robbie Williams and Ant and Dec even popped down to the studios! Next week we find out our characters!

(Gavin found some masks - me, Ollie and Alex are wearing them!)

Thanks, Greg :)

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Hellooooo!

Hello! Welcome to my blog all about the Tomorrow's Talent's National Theatre Connections project. I will be writing blogs, taking videos, pictures. These will show how we develop the piece, and also our individual experiences.

The play will be directed by Tomorrow's Talent principal Gavin Wilkinson, cast members include:
- Polly Russell 
- Jessica Moore
- Jack Martyn 
- Holly Hosler-White
- Ollie Fox
- Ryan Lay
- Hazel Ellender
- Amie Whitaker 
- Greg Bennett (me)
- Elouise Henley
- Joseph Bennett
- Charlotte Barlow
- Alex Young 
- Isabelle Casey
- Mark Ellis

This video offers a brief introduction to the process through the Connections programme. I roped in my little bro to help me out! 
Thanks a lot!

Greg :)


video