Tavauvuussi Suurusit !
“Greetings to you from the morning-filled home of your Whale Director ! ”
Below are some images , that I think came out of Tuedays rehearsals . They will be useful for establishing character :
A baby Raven
An old Inuit couple
An older Raven
An Inuit Kayak
A great whaling Ship
An arctic Seal
A White Bear prowling the Ice floes
And a Whale ….( I’ve even included a sound-cloud link to the song of whales , which Erin , Oliva and Anna you can use – as reference – for the call of the whale – that is one day no longer there )
All these images below , will help visualise the scene for you . “The ancient times” Olivia…we start in ….
Apologies to those cast members not in the Spires 1 space for long last night –
the cats cradlers
…we start with you on Saturday. It’s a long , long , long way to modern day Alaska !
The opening block will take a while , be prepared , we have to do it properly , to establish the style , the environment and the context ( the culture ! ) of the stage piece
Culture is very important here and you all MUST take a look at INNUIT FOLKLORE or North American ( ALASKA ) – INNUIT HISTORY
Don’t be lazy and play-dumb as we go through the next few weeks and not able to contribute anything because , you’ve not done ” the extra stuff ”
You’ll not get anything from the show experience and would be as well not being part of the WHALE CAST.
And as I take , what seems Mhairi ages, to block a tiny piece of script , please try to remember , it takes time to add in all the ingredients of a more Physical Theatre Performance .
It’s all floating round in my head easily enough , but I have to find a way to translate that to you , so you understand and then to physically take the time to stage it .
We will have to have :
Feelings of more natural interaction with one another on set
The ease of sitting and moving where you feel
The gathering , creatively using and sea-like return of props
The choral involvement as extra eyes on stage
And of course the ongoing presence of the WHALES – A concept that goes beyond the ordinary and becomes something magical .
So look at the images below closely and try and reference them back to harder work that was really well done ( for a first go at this style ) on Tuesday.
If you broke a sweat by the end of the night , you were giving it all it needed.
Physical theatre is physical by nature. It involves huge amounts of effort , focus and energetic concentration to do well. To make it flow seamlessly as if it takes no effort at all . Remember National Theatre Connections 2015 REMOTE as a great example of this . But the work that went in – was enormous !
Some of you will take to this physical style of acting ” like a whale ” to water .
Others may struggle a bit , probably with having to do more than one thing at a time .
Your co-ordination may temporarily come unstuck and you might panic and start to pull back on your performance delivery as a result.
Put your hand up and stop the rehearsal and just ask me to to go over it again .
Like PANTO , and the more difficult song blocks , you may have to come in to the Spires , a little earlier ( 10mins before rehearsals ) and go over things you have done – walk round the Spires 1 space and replay your moves in your head : think of the various props passages you have to complete ( What side things move to – Morgan , Freya , Sophie and Oliva you were excellent on Tuesday, keep,this higher standard of work up and the show will be in safe hands as we add more cast into the space mix ) and also just to get a feel for the rehearsals room again .
We have a thing in ACTING , that groups like THE SPACE and ODYSSEY have been exploring . It’s called :
the TRIPLE CONNECTION :
YOU and the SPACE ( the rehearsal room )
YOU and the GROUP ( the people you are in scene rehearsals with , including the director )
YOU and your SELF ( the need to settle into your neutral state of being , before you begin . No outside brought into the room ( Miss Dickson/ Mr Docherty ) , no school , no home strife , no daily baggage . Each rehearsal is a fresh start , just for those few hours you are here .
And on that note : please remind me it’s an 8.30pm finish ( unless otherwise in your sheets ) for you on a Tuesday . ( I’m so used to working till 9 with other casts , that I sometimes forget ! Sorry for that ! )
The triple connection is what you need to make , every time you come in to an acting space , to make sure the rehearsal goes well or as well as it could !
#Knowing your surroundings to recognise your memory of things done
#Relating to your fellow actors in a positive way , building trust through better working relationships – not just being friends with them
#Trying to keep friendship out the space , so that better acting can happen without fear of friendship going wrong
#Making a pact to leave your personal relationships with people , firmly in the corridor with your bags and jackets and collecting them again on the way out.
When the jacket comes off …so should your customary friendships. And then , lo-and-behold, another kind of Spires working relationship takes hold :
Respect Trust Honesty
Even better friendships will come from this place , friendships to last a life time of PACE and beyond.
A good example to use for this , is people you already know better through your work in HRH ROB ROYAL : Cameron and Abby
They have been friends a very long , long time in PACE. When they both started in Teatrotinis together as much younger STS
Now their friendship wasn’t ever instant; they simply acted beside each other and knew each other through the work they jointly shared.
But this better friendship grew exponentially from the working relationship they would build , every time they were in the drama space together, or in the same workshops or projects , events , teams groups or STS assessments
The process , they will probably remember as being the most meaningful one that brought them closer, was probably ” WHEN THE WHALES CAME ” – a movement assessment they had to complete in SPIRES THEATRE SCHOOL much like the ODYSSEY 16 group are doing right now
Their group was assigned a film called ” When the Whales Came ” , that told a story of pilot whales washed on shore in Newfoundland , bringing a message to the people who lived there , of never forgetting to care about the things that really matter in life.
They got DISTINCTION for the work they put into the assessment and more than that , became good and soon great friends from it.
Because they gave themselves the room and time , to grow with each other naturally , the kinds of things that good working drama-friendships need here to last.
They rarely see or speak to one another “out of PACE” , but they know instinctively , at the ping of a text , they could trust one another with their lives.
That only happened because they shared the same passion for drama from the start , the same belief in artistic things , the desire to create in a room full of honesty , trust and respect. A common drive for perfection here.
There have been many similar drama- friendships between better STS , friendships that start as nothing but grow to mean everything. They always come through the work done and are never instantly made in the back corridors, or vending machine alleyways of Spires.
I hope this show experience starts a few , new better Spires Theatre School drama friendships . Solid Working relationships that build into something really special , really worthwhile coming here for.
It always amazes me why people want to bring their outside friendships into the room . Why they want to limit themselves to the demands that this kind of friendship brings.
We have a policy , to try where ever possible to seperate fiends groups ; not to be bad to you , but to give you a chance to discover new things about yourself and the way you can positively relate to others . You can’t do that when you are worried that your friend might feel insecure by your actions .
You can’t have the weight of having to carry that in the space , along with your own inhibitions .
Eventually the baggage goes , but it is harder to let go of the friends groups , unless you are forced to , or you chose to …for your own good
( Good friends will stick with you whatever , because good friends ) understand you both need ” space ” to grow.
At the end of the rehearsal, when I asked you how you felt about one another in the room , you smiled ( which is a good sign of feeling happy ) but there was still a slight lack of group trust , group spontaneity , group togetherness.
I’ve no doubt this will change . This show is going to force you to have to act better with one another in ways you are not used to …and you will have to face many things together to make it work , in time.
Uncomfortable acting truths are sometimes necessary to hear , in the rehearsal space , to clear the drama floor for the work to be presented on it .
The way I worked on Tuesday will show you how I intend to go
But don’t see it like that – that’s all sounds a bit too negative
Let’s See it as :
Embracing the pace of the text and the swift passage of our actual time in rehearsals.
Showing everything we see : from the cold of the ice to the undulation of a body wave , to thick mittened stiff old hands , to the agonising birth of a spirited baby Raven from under a muslin cloth and even the dazzling bladdered light of creation ….spilling out to all four corners of the room globe .
See the Creative potential inside you . The thing that brought you to PACES front door and never forget my passion is getting that out of you so you can live every moment here with pride and self belief .
David Holman is a great playwright and this is a beautiful , short , meaningful play for everyone , not a random collection of consonants and vowels on a page . Words matter here. They contain a message for the world . Still relevant today , if we are to have any chance of seeing these wonderful creatures of the Arctic in future . The seal , the polar bear , the whale …
The polar ice caps are melting , chunks of them are fallin away each month into the sea , raising the worlds oceans , animals are dying all over the world because they can’t find food , can’t hunt as their natural habitat is changing daily ; Planet Earth is becoming a trash can of pollution and utter mindless rubbish.
So forgive me if I’m a bit picky When it comes to play texts like this . It’s because I think you could have a real positive dramatic effect , when you act this play …if you speak as of you really mean it !
…and maybe one or two members of the audience will go HOME and think twice about what they saw that Saturday May 14th night
Remember more about it , than a group of young PACE kids on stage , doing a nice wee Movement show .
They might actually start to think how they have to begin to care more for the planet , think of small changes they can make with their family , to protect the environment , for their own children’s Earth , in future.
Suddenly picky is looking more like , picking out the words that matter and really feeling them when the acting needs to land on this audiences open ears !
And finally RELENTLESS ?
Is Mhairi relentless ? Yes , I suppose I am . I keep going on about things because I have to , because to give up is to give in
A choice I spoke about always having to make , in a blog that maybe a few read , once upon a SPIRES ago…
Give up or give in
When it comes to shows, I never give in . But for a moment last night , a split second , it flashed through my mind :
Is this too much for them ?
Is it too soon ?
Am I going to get them over the higher performance-bar I’ve set for them in this short a time ?
It was right there , as I momentarily came out my “rehearsal mode” and looked up and saw some confused faces , staring blankly , tired bodies beginning to slouch under the pressure of having to stay focused on boxes with seemingly little to do
It was there just long enough to make me doubt my method ?
But a funny thing happened , I looked round the room , at the walls that closed us in together , and it was as if every show I’ve ever done in that Spires 1 space – flashed back at me .
I remembered how hard it is to start something new . Because although it’s all in my head , it’s not in yours yet .
It’s all still way down deep at the bottom of the submerged ice berg and it’s a cold , dark and lonely drama land down there , till we start to climb up to see the light of theatre-day .
And something about knowing we’d get there , in the end , brought me back to the space and you again.
Because every show process is like this , every show process is tough at the beginning . And yes we may lose a few along the way , that’s inevitable …we may be stuck at the icy bottom depths for a while , we may even think of giving up on ourselves , because it’s too hard.
But we won’t give in , we won’t give up on this play! Because it matters , more than you know.
Like the people of the Northern Ice , we will survive the comlicated rehearsals , adapt to the physical demands , and thrive in our relentless , demanding , picky drama environment .
Bring it on !
Faces will soon lose their blank stares , bodies will become strong enough to bear a long focused Stare , minds will be opened to the possibility of another way of doing things and the show will come through our fun and fiendly play .
Pep talk done for the week !
Take some of these notes I gave you on Tuesday to heart:
Don’t go backwards , push on each time you come to rehearse
Pause is the moment you own an audience
Don’t rush to get the lines out , savour them like a last precious meal
Understand the words and why they are in the line ?
Subtext is the hidden language you have to find in a play – here-in lies your feeling and “the way to act”
Always make your stage moves count , don’t hide when making them, see and be seen
Think of the space as a playground for you to have fun in , don’t limit yourself to one swing or a slide.
Do the unexpected , the unpredictable , “play the moment”
Let your gut instinct , be the one thing you follow in drama , it is never wrong , because its how you feel at that moment.
LEARN YOUR LINES , after every blocking session , so you don’t have your script next time and you can really start to have fun !
Think of what you wished you had in rehearsals that night and bring it next time ( water , a pencil to mark script pauses and moves , a better prop to use , deodorant , a change of top …or maybe even – your wonderful brain ! )
Acting is about finding out what personal knowledge you can bring to the text you must speak . Without understanding the message , there is only an empty , meaningless sound
You can say the lines ….
Or you can understand and therefore have a chance at actually feeling them
In the opening of Whale there is a written a monologue , now made into a tri-logue , but you must speak as ONE : tavauvussi suurusit ” Greetings from the people of the Northern Ice ” and we are suddenly transported to a place of wild , dangerous , untamed beauty . We are moved from here to there , in the first utter of a different voice.
We’ve recently started some voice work , so you should know that immediately
Lifting , energising , articulating and placing the sounds , will give you a better way in to the text
You have , as young actors and actresses to deliver , as if you understand the very heart of this frozen inhospitable land at the top of the world .
I hope you can now , with the help of these images , with the direction being given in this post. Work on this opening with confidence , clarity and better understanding – to move the audience , by the end – to tears !