Archive for July, 2012

THE GAME (and other exploits)

Arriving at university at the end of September last year feels both a million years ago and only just yesterday. Within two weeks of settling into my course I had a successful audition for a play called Raging Quiet. As well as feeling as though I had thrown myself in the deep end and fearing that the writer (the wonderful Emily Holyoake) and the director (the fabulous Abbi Davey) would decide, about halfway through the process that I cannot act and should be sent home, I found some of my closest university friends through this play as well as a boatload of confidence and am ever thankful for.

Since then, I say rather smugly, that I have not spent any time in my first year where I wasn’t involved in a production. There was my cameo in RL (written and directed by the aforementioned dynamic duo) where I got to play a space alien in a fake television drama and had the coolest outfit/make-up I think I will ever have; then Dracula which I was the A.D. for, I absolutely loved my role in this rehearsal process and am so proud to have worked on this show with such a truly lovely bunch of people; Mary Stuart, directed by Kathrin Rosenberger, a project that took six months, had a lot of bumps in the road and was, eventually, pulled-off wonderfully by a really tight and beautiful cast; then there was THE GAME.

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THE GAME (which you just lost and I always feel the need to capitalise) was Exeter Theatre Collective’s (etc.) debut performance as a fresh theatre company/collective run by graduates in Exeter and I couldn’t have hoped to go out this year with more of a bang.

THE GAME was an interactive murder mystery event in which the audience were able to interrogate suspects, look for clues at the crime scene and, eventually, have their say in who they think dunnit. I played Jay Check, forensic intern and for those of you who failed to attend: It was me.

I got to play the merry murderess or, at least, that was my initial thought. Even the cast weren’t told until about halfway through the rehearsal process who the killer was. This was to make sure (presumably) that all of the actors created well-rounded characters and figured out their relationships with one another with no preconceived notion of who would finally be singled out at the end. It was imperative to have fully-formed characters as the audience were able to ask you anything at any time during the three hour long game.

This was the most intensive rehearsal processes I have ever undergone. I am someone who walks into a space, plays the character, and leaves the space. Hearing actors talk about being stuck in character has always seemed to me to be a bit farfetched and over-the-top.

However, over the three week rehearsal process I actually spent more of the hours I was awake being Jay than I did being myself. I created a life, a childhood, a relationship with a father (who wasn’t actually my father either in the play or in real life), in-jokes about dad’s cooking, a cat I have and will never own and, finally, got to play out the murder scene in the most harrowing improvisation I have ever done (actually, I had to do it twice, but I am not getting into that).

For someone who turned up to the audition feeling as though I am useless unless handed a script, I managed to improvise successfully in character for twelve hours of performance over two days. And it was one of the best experiences in theatre that I have ever had and I have to say a huge thank you to the absolutely astounding cast and to the directors, Abbi Davy and Matt Williams, for whom I cannot find the words to really say enough.

So thank you everyone who made this year so full of wonderful theatre. I look back over this year and feel I have come a long way in a very short space of time but can’t imagine how far I’ve still got to go over the next two years. I find myself backing away and, at the same time, thinking ‘Bring it on!’. The most exciting prospect for me will be discovering the new and amazing people I have yet to work with.

And on that slightly sappy note…

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A Beginning and An End…

I hung around after the end of term, having officially finished my first year of study at Exeter University, in order to participate in a fantastic production called THE GAME (more coming on that at a later date). It has felt as though I have been studying at Exeter to my whole life and, at the same time, haven’t been there five minutes yet.

This year has been incredible for me. Within a fortnight of arriving at university I had successfully gone through my first audition and landed a lead role in a play that helped make some of my closest friends in Exeter, and since then I haven’t had a break from being involved in various productions. It hasn’t all been sunshine and puppies by any means, this year has brought a lot of very difficult adjustments in my personal life but, looking forward, I’m hoping they were all for the best.

 

I have just finished cleaning my room in my parents’ house to within an inch of its life all ready to unpack my unnecessary number of belongings for the eight or so weeks which I will be home for. Putting my feet up triumphantly, with a cup of coffee perched beside me to cool, I look towards the coming weeks with a slight sense of dread. How am I going to fill two months of my life with worthwhile endeavours whilst in a small town with a) no theatrical prospects, b) none of my close university friends and c) no job as of yet?

So I am making a few mid-year resolutions and setting some goals to make the most of this summer. I don’t want to turn up back in Exeter to realise I’ve wasted time as this first year has flown by so quickly, I can’t imagine how fast the rest of my time is going to go.

Firstly, this blog. This has been a platform for some rather unproductive and often ill-informed ramblings which often turned in to mud-slinging wars although the posts were only ever designed as a way for me to vent. However, I would like to turn it into a well-kept blog. I am annoyed with myself for not keeping a better record of the journey I have gone through this year and making notes throughout the rehearsal processes for the various plays I have done, so I’m going to make a promise to myself to keep a more thorough account of things over the next two years.

Secondly; THEATRE! I worked as an assistant director on a production of Dracula last term, but haven’t felt prepared to go it alone since year 11 when I wrote Sketch with my father. This summer, however, I want to put myself in a good position to start creating theatre that is all my own. Already dad and I have a play in the works which I am very excited about but don’t want to go into detail about just yet, and I am writing something myself although God knows if that will ever come to anything. But, at this rate, I shall have a minimum of one original play to direct next year.

Getting a job is a priority only in so much as I won’t be able to survive without one, so sadly a lot of time which could be used for writing or procrastinating is actually going into looking at potential places of employment.

As well as writing a play for next year, I am absolutely determined to start collating the notes I’ve been making over the past three years for a sort of story/set of short stories I have been trying to write. I have two crates full of lose pages of notes for this bloody thing and it’s time I put them to use and got them in some sort of order before I lose the plot and go completely insane.

 

In other news, as well as making far-fetched plans of fame and fortune through my humble scribbling, I am absolutely delighted to announce that I am now an official member of the Exeter Theatre Collective.

Again, more information on this at another time as right now my coffee is getting cold and I really need to figure out which box I packed my underwear in to come home before the situation becomes desperate…