Term 3 at Drama Studio London sees three in-house productions covering Shakespeare Serious, Shakespeare Comedy and Restoration Comedy.
Term began with an intensive two day workshop in Shakespeare’s First Folio, covering how to read the script for character information, the importance of punctuation, how to read verse in contrast to prose and many more invaluable nuggets of language based genius. At the end of this we faced the ‘Un-scenes’.
This was a thrilling exercise where we were allocated scenes from the folio but only given our own lines with a handful of cue words and entrances/exits. We weren’t told our scene partners or any context other than the Act and Scene number within the play. All we could do was learn the lines, mine the words for information and turn up on the day. Thankfully, after wandering around for three days as a lonely Emilia, my Desdemona also turned up and despite an unexpected song on her part (I really need to reread Othello) and a secret monologue she wasn’t aware of from me, we managed to pull it off! The point was to experience a performance as Shakespeare’s actors would have done, learning their own parts and reacting to other lines that they hadn’t heard before – the ultimate listening and reacting experience.
Shakespeare Serious was up first – I was cast as Hermione and Perdita in the Winter’s Tale. This meant 6 rehearsals spread over a month spent being 9 months pregnant and then my own daughter. It was a fantastic rehearsal process under the command of the inimitable Crispin Harris where we had the chance to put everything we learnt about Shakespeare’s language into practice and balance the instructions inside the text with acting choices. Our first foray into Elizabethan drama was a success and gave us a rigorous articulation and separation work out.
Shakespeare Comedy came next, and throughout February ten of us spent our six short rehearsal days cavorting around 1950’s Verona in Two Gents. In addition to my main role of Julia in disguise in the second half of the play, I got to don a fat suit and flash my cash as the rich (and fairly disgusting) Mercatio in his attempt to woo the Julia of the first half. Our wonderful director Abigail Anderson had a brilliantly fun and intellectually based rehearsal process that I reacted really well to. The emphasis was firmly laid on audience experience and including everyone watching in the round in the action. This was a new configuration for me and under Abi’s creative guidance I discovered how to marry up staying in the scene and keeping the audience feeling included with eye contact and connectivity outside the scene. I’d still like a lot more practice at this but the two performances we got at Two Gentlemen of Verona were really invaluable.
Drama Studio London’s fantastic two months’ Shakespeare training was amazing and such a steep learning curve. I feel that I’ve gained entirely new levels to my performance quality in Elizabethan/Jacobean theatre with a new deeper understanding of text and practice. I’ve loved it!