At LEATSS 2015 (my second summer school), I chose Chris White’s directing skills course and Helen Ireland’s theme on singing witty songs. I found both of these courses hugely enjoyable and very beneficial to me as a musical director, potential director and also an actor.
Helen has a wonderful way of getting singers to learn songs with tricky tunes and even trickier lyrics – even people with little or no knowledge of written music. Time after time we looked at each other in horror as Helen played through a new song for us, we knew it was hopeless, we’d never be able to sing that. Yet, a few minutes later we not only knew it, we had performed it to each other and were now on to the next one. Really quite exhilarating.
In Chris’s class we took time to work in minute detail on pieces of text from various playwrights. Although I knew about “actioning” I had always supposed it to be rather tiresome and frankly “over the top”. However, in his class, the light went on and I saw how this technique really worked – particularly as a collaborative process between all the actors in the scene and the director. I found that words just leapt off the page directly into actors’ movements, posture and method of delivery. This technique is far from being a waste of time and, for pieces of seemingly impenetrable text, this could be the only way of giving them meaning on the stage.
I was also persuaded to take on a project 3 and to try my hand at directing a short scene from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf – with excellent support from Janice Dunn this turned out to be not as scary as I expected. Trish Slade, David Laurie, Martin Kirk, Laure Gatter and I had great fun working on this slightly terrifying piece of theatre.
I am really looking forward to bringing some of what I have learned into our next production – Oliver!