Sunday, 24 August 2008

Helm Crag

Helm Crag, viewed from Grasmere.

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Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Just Stand There

Last Saturday I got back from my week at the NODA Summer School, held each year at Loughborough University.

That's six years in a row and I'm yet to get bored of it. On the contrary - I seem to learn more (about acting, directing and myself) every time I go. This year was certainly no exception.

While this year's course (Directing A Play) wasn't the rollercoaster mind-fuck that I remember from last year, it was definitely worth attending. Here are some of the things I learned, in no particular order:
  • Neil Simon wrote a female version of The Odd Couple in the 1980s. It's just as funny as the original.
  • Contrary to my expectations, I can find emotional truth in my acting. Though it may have helped to be immersed in the special atmosphere of a NODA summer school class!
  • As I learn more about acting and directing, I find it more and more useful to absorb the techniques which Stanislavski developed.
  • Different teachers/actors/directors have different words for exactly the same concept.
  • Although I already do huge amounts of prep work on a script, there's always more to do.
  • Even lying on a hard floor, you can relax enough to make your arms and legs seem to drift away into space.
  • Shakespeare wrote some cracking insults.
  • I can do improv if I put my mind to it.
  • After watching the Friday night showcase, I really wish I had done the Physical Theatre course...
  • ...And the Acting Through Song course.
  • If you have time and a good director, even amateurs can make a scene really come alive. But, alas, time is what is usually against us!
  • If you trust your fellow actors, you can share anything with them.
  • When your tutor (the marvellous Frankie Cosgrave) is willing to spend time with the class, outside of the classroom, you end up being able to trust each other much more.
There's so much more that can be said for the NODA Summer School. The superb tutors (I think this year's set must have been one of the best combinations). The cheap bar! The great food (too great - I couldn't fit into my disco trousers at the end of the week). The friendliness of everyone - even more so than in previous years.

Overall, I think my big lesson this year has been to discover that I CAN do all those things that I want to do, if I put my mind to it.