Ensemble Building Activity

AIM:    To practice ensemble building with young students by sharing and teaching unique talents/quirks. 
OBJECTIVE: To share and learn to celebrate their unusual tricks and then teach them to their classmates. Every student has an unusual trick they can do! It’s a unique little quirk, which makes them special.    
  • Share their unique tricks in a goofy talent show setting.
  • Learn how to be a patient teacher
  • Be open minded to learning something that seems impossible
  • Have pride in their unique “quirks”
  • Learn to look vulnerable in front of their peers when performing a new skill/trick that is difficult/hard to master.
  • Be a supportive audience for each other during a vulnerable presentation.
  • Approach a “silly” activity with seriousness.
Explain to students, “This activity is called, “Stupid Human Tricks”. 
  1. We explain what a ‘stupid human trick’ is: “Everyone has an unusual trick they can do! It’s a unique little quirk, which makes you…you! There are no excuses! Everyone has something!”
  2. Give students some examples:
    1. Body Tricks: double jointed body parts, wiggling your ears, touching your tongue to your nose
    2. Athletic Tricks: splits, flips, handsprings, stand on your head,
    3. Knowledge Tricks: say the 50 president’s names in less than a minute, sing the alphabet backwards, recite the “I had a Dream Speech”
    4. Misc: Shakespeare Sonnet in another language, drinking water from a straw up their nose, etc..
  1. Explain the rules:
    • The trick has to be performed in ONE MINUTE or less.
    • Have 2 – 3 kids show examples.
    • They will pair up with someone they have NOT worked with yet.
    • They will practice together for 5 – 7 minutes.
    • They have to teach their partner their “trick”. 
      • This is the key lesson: Even if it is a body trick that would be impossible to teach…they must commit, modify and work together to teach each other the trick to the best of their ability.
    • They must practice presenting their trick as an “act”. Beginning, middle and end. (Intro, Trick, and Bow)
  1. Group comes together as a whole and we present as many partners as possible.
    • Remind students that they are on stage and they must commit to presenting their tricks as a full scale scene.
FOLLOW-UP:Discus why this activity is relevant to our work in the theatre: (Working together, patience while learning something difficult, being vulnerable on stage, presenting the trick as a finished scene).
Ask the students:  “Was it harder being the teacher or the student? Why?”
“How did it feel to present a trick that you haven’t mastered yet?”

The Nine Word Play

(30 minutes or more)
AIM: How do we create a performance piece using language and staging?
OBJECTIVE: To allow young students to experience a mini version of the theatrical process of creating performances using language and physical movement.
STUDENTS WILL: Select nine words as the text for a performance piece and stage, rehearse and perform them.
1.         Ask the students to partner into groups of three.
                        2.         Tell them that each group will create a Nine word play.
                                    Each member of the group is responsible for writing THREE
                                    words each giving them a total of NINE words.
                        3.         The FIRST word for each person must be their FIRST NAME.
                                    The SECOND and THIRD words must be words that they associate                                      with themselves. Words that tell us something about them.
                        Example           ANDREA     ITALIAN    PSYCHIC
                                                               MATT    SKATEBOARD    PUNK
                                                               LAUREN      THEATER    PINK
                        4.         Now that they have the LANGUAGE or the text for their play
                                    as a group they must decide how to stage it. What performance
                                    style do they want to use.
                                    Examples:  Musical,  Classical,   Abstract,  Realistic dialogue  etc.
                        5.         Tell them they must put it on its feet. How do they want to stand?
                                    WORK TOGETHER and move as they say their words.
                        6.         They can say the nine words in any way they wish, as many times as
                                    they wish. They can say each other’s words, repeat them, and break
                                    them up, say them together as a chorus etc.
                        7.         Model with two volunteers an example of a nine word play.
                        8.         Give them ten to 15 minutes to work then share each group’s
SUMMARY: You have just gone through a mini version of the theatrical process
from creation to execution. This is how plays are made; we start with a theme,
create the language or the text of the play then stage it physically in a space.

Diagnostic Activities

3 easy-to-facilitate classroom diagnostic activities!
Elements of Diagnostics:
        a short activity
        all students are involved
       the opportunity for the teacher to “step out and observe”
Diagnostic 1: “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring…”
In this exercise, the class sits in a circle and everyone must add on to the picnic list, remembering what the students ahead of them are bringing as well. For an introductory exercise the students can preface their object with “My name is Andrea and I’m going to bring an alligator”. (Alliteration activity).
What can you observe in this diagnostic?
        students ability to engage in the activity
        memorization skills
        patience…while waiting for their turn
        Confidence. How do they react when they forget an object?
        Who seems to be actively trying to remember what everyone is saying, before their turn?
        Shyness. Do they look at their classmates in the eye while they repeat their object or do they look at the floor?
        Attention seekers. Who “milks” their turn?
Diagnostic 2: Create a tableau.
In this exercise, the class is told to create a tableau of a specific scene. For example “a day at the beach”, or “the circus”. They join the scene one at a time and freeze in the “still-life” picture.
What can you observe in this diagnostic?
        students ability to engage in the activity
        Initiation. Who jumps right in? Who waits til the end?
        Balance. The ability to hold a frozen position for a period of time.
        Sustainability. Are they commited to their pose, or do they get distracted watching where their classmates fit it?
        Creativity. Who thinks outside of the box?
        Space awareness
        Do they add-on to another student’s activity? Or do they start their own, in solitude?
        Class dynamics
Diagnostic 3: The numbers game, “Buzz”
In this exercise, the class stands in a circle. The ‘mission’ is for students to be aware of their classmates and count as high as they can.  The rules are: they say buzz on any double numbers or numbers with “3” or “7” in them (13, 17, 22, 30-39, 11…etc), and that causes the movement of the circle to reverse.  If someone messes up, you start from 1. They game gets tricky when you reach the 30s…and the direction switches every single number.
What can you observe in this diagnostic?
        student’s ability to engage in the activity
        listening skills
        counting skills
        quick thinking
        Ability to follow several directions at a time.
        Confidence. How do they react when they mess up?
        Patience. How do they react when someone ELSE messes up?
        Awareness. Are they ready for their turn?

Teaching Philosophy Statement

My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy,
And we should treat it with the same status.”
          Sir Ken Robinson

As a creative arts educator, I aim to support the growth of imagination and creativity in our youth by fostering a learning environment where it can blossom. My goal is to inspire students by teaching theatre through the use of creative drama which encourages students to engage their imaginations. The use of creativity and imagination makes drama a fun way to motivate students to learn while generating developmental synapses that simultaneously occur during creative play.
I believe that fostering creativity is the essential ingredient to the foundation of learning. Much of my teaching philosophy is based on the lectures given by New York Times best selling author, Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity. In 2003 he received a Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth the II for his services to the arts and education.  I agree with many of his sentiments when he speaks of how the value of the creative arts is greatly underestimated in many of our public school systems. If we are supposed to be preparing our youth for their future roles in society, I can not think of one profession where creativity does not play an essential part; considering professional careers such as: business management, architecture, advertising, marketing, public relations, science, engineering, and teaching.  Creativity cultivates problem solving techniques used in all of these occupations; it is an essential part of innovation and invention.
The most influential benefit of educational theatre is its unique ability to cultivate student’s personality growth while promoting self confidence. When students step into a role and learn to think as their character would think, they learn how to be empathetic. For example, a student learns these important skills about empathy and relating to other people, not only through recreating character relations in scene work, but through the theatrical collaboration process as well. For a student to be successful at his craft he must be socially aware and in tune with his own emotions, because acting is based on reenacting human impulses and behavior. Through this increased social awareness students can gain perspective of interactions between people and the impact that their actions have upon others. Theatre also has the potential to develop other important skills in its students such as: language, motor skills, memorization, and communication abilities through the study of playwriting and re-enacting the text. Students learn body control, coordination and discipline by learning how to express themselves using voice, hands, face and body.
From the standpoint of teaching core academics, I aim to use drama to teach the art of theatre while expanding the learning in my students other areas of study. The method I use to achieve this is to require my students to research all aspects of the piece and its author when preparing to perform scene work.  Students will study the biography of the playwright to determine the message that the author is trying to convey.  They need to study the time period in which the play takes place; historical events that may effect a character’s actions; geographical and cultural influences on the characters; and any other significant symbolic references. The objective being that by reenacting pieces from a different time, place or culture, students will better understand the importance of the lessons on these subjects. For example if students are studying American History, it might help them to better understand the signing of the Declaration of Independence if they got to act out a scene between John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson from the musical: 1776. In essence, they will feel as though they have “lived” through the experience putting themselves in the shoes of these historic figures.
Beyond understanding the core academic and developmental benefits of theatre and the creative arts, one of my greatest strengths as a theatre arts educator is the fact that I have an extensive background as a working professional, fully integrated into the theatrical industry. While teaching is my passion, I am also a Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) eligible actress and Off-Off Broadway Producer. It is evident in my teaching style that I hold a high level of respect for the craft, and I demand that my students are ambitious with their work. I’m passionate about creating an engaging learning environment that teaches theatre appreciation and the fundamentals of various acting techniques. 


Graduation at Radio City Music Hall!

Certificate of Distinction awarded to Andrea Bertola
On May 10, 2010 Andrea received her Masters in Educational Theatre from NYU.   She joined over 1,300 masters and advanced certificate graduates in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development Valedictory Celebration. The Theater at Radio City Music Hall was filled with proud and enthusiastic parents, grandparents, spouses, children and friends. The ceremony concluded with a rousing rendition of a Steinhardt favorite, “New York, New York” by the Steinhardt Music Theatre Ensemble.
Andrea was proud to be awarded a New York University Certificate of Distinction during the ceremony. Andrea was selected as Alternate Student Speaker to bring greetings on behalf of the class of 2010 at the 24th annual Steinhardt Valedictorian Celebration. This honor recognizes outstanding academic achievements, leadership and service to the New York University Community.
On the stage at Radio City Music Hall!
As a member of the dais party, Andrea marched in the processional and was seated on stage during the ceremony at Radio City Music Hall. It was an unbelievable experience that will not be soon forgotten.

Final Self- Assessment

Advanced Directing
New York University
Educational Theatre Program
Dr. Nancy Smithner
May 14, 2010

Final Self- Assessment

To articulate my personal growth that took place in this course is almost incomprehensible. This was by far the most challenging class I enrolled in this semester. I approached my work with vigor and ferociously defended the beliefs I have set for myself as to what makes quality theatre. I have honed my critical eye and raised my standards, knowing what I am capable of and never settling for less. I have defined my ideals of artistic integrity and look to reevaluate those ideals with every new piece of theatre I have experienced.
In order to keep challenging myself with the course work, I explored our assigned readings with eagerness. When I came across an unfamiliar name, theory, technique, etc. I would research it online. Many times that research would lead me to new research, which would lead me to new research and before I would even realize it… 2 hours of concentrated learning had gone by and I was still on page 3 of the reading. That is really the beauty of the internet. It was in these moments that I relished in my role as a student of the theatre. I have gotten such immense pleasure out of directing and our assigned readings that I wanted to soak up more material. I was like a sponge. Coming from a girl that struggled with some devastating learning disabilities through out my childhood and adolescent years… (dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADD) I really savor the moments when school ignites a deep passion to learn. It is such a radically different feeling from what I am accustomed to, I could write an entire book on the ways a class such as “Advanced Directing” has changed me in my role as an accomplished learner. I’m leaving for a vacation to Italy on Tuesday and I’m excited to take some of the readings from the class with me. I’ll have a whole looong plane ride to delve back into the material and reevaluate it based on the experiences I had in class.
I can’t wait to direct my next full scale piece. I am salivating! I have all of these tools and no venue to work in! This class has given me a plethora of techniques, tools and ideas just waiting to be used! My one regret, I wish we had gone into some “career development” talk. How to make connections and where to find more professional directing opportunities. I’m very eager to direct in “the real world” again, and I’m a little confused as far as which route I should take to work towards that goal. I am inspired by directing, it engages my artistic interests on so many levels. From design to research, inspiration to collaboration; I find directing wholly fulfilling.
In finishing this course I feel as though I have a strong understanding of many of the techniques we learned and confidence in my ability to facilitate several of them as a director. I am anxious to explore future productions through the eye of the director and help others to make connections to theatrical work. I was passionately dedicated to my scene work and able to learn from my mistakes. I maintained my attention to detail and made clear choices in my directing that translated onto the stage. I enjoyed the weekly reading assignments and made notes of my favorites so that I can revisit them in the future. Being that I plan on teaching in colleges and communities I am excited about the freedom I will have to explore this work in a way that mirrors your facilitation of the techniques.
I learned the most about myself as an artist and learner. I redefined my identity by taking ownership of the type of student I was versus the type of student I have become. By challenging myself and overcoming personal obstacles I have made the connection of how to use the content learned in class and apply that passion to my everyday life. I have become an astute observer of the nuances in our world and my artist eye has only improved from that realization. I leave this class with confidence in my capability as a director, an artist and as a hungry student, which is truly the most priceless lesson of all.

My Speech!

Putting on my cap & gown in the Rockettes’ dressing room at Radio City Music Hall!
I was honored to be chosen as the alternate student speaker for the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development’s Valedictory Celebration. Meaning: if the student speaker was unable to deliver her remarks on behalf of the graduating class, I would be asked to stand in her place. On stage. At Radio City Music Hall. Dream come true!!!!!
So… as promised, I am posting my speech that went unused that afternoon. (And a special “thank you” goes out to my Educational Theatre Facebook Friends— for the inspiration…and memories!)

Valedictory Celebration 2010
Alt. Student Speaker Speech
To paint the most vivid picture of the daily life of my fellow Steinhardt graduate students, I would like to begin by reading a few Facebook ‘status updates’ that I have collected from my classmates over the 2009-2010 school year:

“I spend more time with William Shakespeare than I spend with my boyfriend. Houston, we have a problem.”

“My bed is multi-functional. It is simultaneously acting as a study hall, a library, an Internet café, a Trash Receptacle, and a late-night diner. The one thing it’s not functioning as? A place to sleep. ”

“Does anyone have a skeleton of a cat, a feather boa, an 18th century globe, or a CD with ‘sounds of the subway’ that I can use in a scene for class tomorrow?”

And finally, my favorite:

“200 pages read, 200 to go, 5 hours til class… Why am I on Facebook right now?”

In all seriousness, I stand before a dynamic group of hardworking, ambitious, inspiring graduates who have devoted their lives and made many sacrifices to be where they stand today! I am humbled to be chosen as the student representative of the Steinhardt class of 2010 and I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to my colleagues and peers. We did it!

Did you know the United Nations proclaimed 2010 as the “International Year of Youth”? This is an effort to harness the energy, imagination and initiative of the world’s youth in overcoming the challenges facing humankind. I’m just glad that I didn’t have to give the graduation speech last year. 2009 was declared the International Year of the Gorilla! This year, with the “International Year of Youth” the UN aims to encourage dialogue and understanding across generations and to promote the ideals of peace, respect for human rights and freedoms, and solidarity. What an appropriate year for this year’s class of Steinhardt Students to graduate! Those goals of the UN are the very same ones many of today’s graduates have dedicated their lives to, via their studies here at NYU. As Dean Brabeck wrote in her open Letter to the Secretary of Education, “The Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development embraces the vision of educating the whole child. The faculty and staff prepare professionals to work collaboratively across the fields of education, psychology, health, media and the arts.”

In all of the classes I have taken at NYU, one lesson stands out amongst the rest. In the educational theatre department we had a passionate discussion about a famous speech by New York Times best selling author, Sir Ken Robinson. He is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity. He is quoted as saying, “Creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.” He spoke of how the value of the creative arts is greatly underestimated when educating our youth. Whether you are a graduating student in the department of education, psychology, health, media or the arts; I’m sure you would agree with his sentiments. In preparing our youth for their future roles in society, I can not think of one profession where creativity does not play an essential part. Consider professional careers such as: business management, architecture, advertising, marketing, media, public relations, science, psychology, engineering, and teaching. Creativity cultivates problem solving techniques used in all of these occupations; it is an essential part of innovation and invention. Personally, I believe the most influential benefit of encouraging creative self expression in our youth is its unique ability to cultivate personality growth while promoting self confidence. With that self-confidence, our youth will be empowered when they are encouraged to dedicate themselves to fostering progress towards the United Nation’s goals of freedom, peace, and solidarity for all of humankind.

Being a student in Steinhardt’s award-winning Educational Theatre program, as theatre arts educators, we aim to support the growth of imagination in our youth by using creative drama to foster a learning environment where creativity can blossom. Every single week, I watch in awe as my classmates work with the youth of New York City. The passion and dedication that they pour into their work is truly life changing. You don’t need to look any further than on the faces of the children, faces that light up at the chance to creatively express themselves. Children who tell us—they feel as though they are genuinely being heard— for the very first time. Life changing, one child at a time.

All Steinhardt graduates, in every department, know the value of creativity in inspiring youth. The creative solutions of prior generations – from a musician’s improvisation to our professors’ sometimes eccentric solutions to pedagogical problems – have inspired us thus far. Now we have the opportunity to go out into the world and are well equipped to inspire future generations with our own creative solutions in the arts, in education, in psychology, and in the media, just as the United Nations suggested.

Today, the 2010 graduates of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development leave NYU eager and ready to fulfill our roles as leaders in this exciting field of human development. We live during difficult times in an ever changing world and we are ready to make a difference. I am confident that the Steinhardt School has given us tools, inspiration and motivation to tackle the goals of the “2010 International Year of Youth”, not only in 2010 but for the rest of our lives. Yes we can!

Now, I have one final Facebook status update* for you today. This is from my own account and was posted this morning. It says, “Farwell, NYU… and Thank You. From the bottom of my heart.”

* Alternate Ending:
Take out my cell phone and actually update my facebook status at the end of the speech. While I read the last line…

Copyright © 2010 Andrea Bertola
All Rights Reserved

Memorization Technique

Today we started with a memorization technique that Nan taught us. It was awesome! 
First we had to free write a story we recalled from our childhood. Something about family. I wrote about my crazy grandmother! I love the freedom of free writing and not having the chance to edit yourself. I think it’s so important for an actor to do.
After that we read the pieces out loud. After that we paired up with a partner and assigned a specific imagery picture to each word. Nan told us, when actors forget their lines, it is because they don’t have an image for the word. How cool! I didn’t know that. It totally make sense. Assigning imagery to each word added so much color to the work. I wonder how that works when an actor is really enthralled with their character. My first reaction would be to think that the imagery would work against deeply emotional character development. I guess it ties the actor’s life and experiences in with the life of the character…helping to blend the two. Very interesting! Either way… it really did help me memorize my piece. I was able to perform off book! Crazy!

Oh the places You’ll Go…

I had originally decided to deconstruct Klaus Kinski’s book, “Kinski Uncut”. As I was reading it, the text was so dark that I thought it would be interesting to juxtapose it with something really childlike and innocent. “Kinski Uncut” follows Klaus through his chaotic life. It’s an erotic story as he explains (it vivid detail) his never-ending desire for women. I thought juxtaposing this story with “Oh the places You’ll Go” would be very interesting. That particular Dr. Seuss book is often given out as a graduation present. It is a symbol for the opportunities that lay before a young person. I wanted to explore what happens when a person takes the wrong road. I also wanted to explore Klaus’ book from the perspective of the scorned women he left behind. I chose to have the (literally) hundreds of women he left behind represented in one person. Of “all the places you’ll go” how far could a person get to that line? What is the ultimate revenge? I wanted to push myself in this scene and explore a really dark topic. I wanted to see if I would be able to create and direct a powerful piece that doesn’t rely on fluff, pop culture, comedy or any other tricks I have up my sleeve.
Below are some excerpts I cut from the Dr. Seuss poem. As you can see… when they stand alone they are quite dark:
Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. 
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. 
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. 
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t. Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. 
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. 
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! 
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? 
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.
I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. 
Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.
All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.
And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul. 
On you will go though your enemies prowl. 
On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. 
Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. 
On and on you will hike. 
And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.
I took the idea of “the waiting place” and thought of it as a sort of ‘Limbo’ where people are waiting all alone. They might have to face their fears. A “weirdish, wildish space where you find things that “scare you so much you won’t want to go on”. I decided to use the idea of abortion and a woman’s womb. A woman taking back control of her body. I wanted it to be heavy on symbolic meanings so that an audience could impose their own story on the piece. I wanted to play with universal themes. However, I needed to have a very clear story for my actress. You can’t play universal themes if you don’t have an underscoring thru line. This just leads to confusion.
The story we came up with for my actress:
She was in love with Klaus and would do anything to be close to him; however he just used her for sex. (like many of the women he describes in the book). She was poor, desperate and not well educated. She has no identity other than when she is with him. He gives her self-worth. The type of woman that puts a man before herself. No confidence, no self respect. She found out she was pregnant with his baby and he wanted nothing to do with her. This enraged her. She thought the baby would change their relationship. She despised him and she despised herself. Even worse she despised his growing fetus inside of her. The rage empowered her to take the life of the baby. She tried to terminate the pregnancy. She ended up killing herself in the process.
As the scene begins she wakes up in a hazy fog, as she finds herself in “limbo”… however she doesn’t know where she is yet. She finally discovers the blood on her hands (symbolic) and realizes where she is. She tries to wipe the blood off her hands and this results in staining her white dress with blood (symbol). She starts hearing voices and seeing bits of her life flash before her. She hears her own voice and sees herself in the mirror. The last voice of Klaus, saying, “We can’t be together right now.” She falls to the floor in a fit of despair. As she rises, we see that her skirt is covered in blood. Her womb bleeds for him.
She finds the bowl of water and decides to cleanse herself. (A symbolic baptism). As she pours the clear water into the bowl, it fills with red blood. She tries to cleanse the blood from her hands and at the bottom of the bowl she discovers the placenta. She instantly connects with it and mothers it. She rocks it and kisses it. Sorry that she terminated the fetus’ life out of revenge. For once, she is in control. She has her own identity away from Klaus. In a final symbolic moment she ingests the placenta as a way to become whole once more. She has resolved her tormented feelings and can leave limbo. Symbolically the baby with go with her. Blackout.
Inspiration Pictures:

Yikes. Pretty sick. I don’t know where this piece came from! But I think it’s beautiful at the same time. Though I’m prochoice, I didn’t want this piece to be political in nature. I tried to find balance. She terminated the pregnancy, which is a prochoice stance… yet she ended in limbo, which leans towards the stance of the prolife team. However, she could be in limbo for a number of reasons: killing herself, revenge, unresolved issues, self loathing…etc. She could be in limbo because the baby died with the “original sin”. Or it could be perceived as a dream/nightmare.
Luckily enough after scouring the internet for audio versions of the poem, I found a version that someone had made for an art project. They had used some of the text, but integrated it with really creepy music! Perfect.
I wanted to use a fog machine… I felt it was really important to create the right atmosphere.
In rehearsal we did a ton of emotional work as we deconstructed the moments. I wanted her emotional reactions to the scene to be authentic. Everything else is so gruesome and horrifying that we need the audience to become immediately invested in her and willing to go with her on the journey. I felt as though leaving a sense of ambiguity would “hook” them. Their curiosity would lead them through our story.
Each person in the audience will be engaged as they as themselves:
Who is she?
Where is she?
What is wrong with her?
Who are the voices she hears?
What does the blood represent?
What does her white outfit represent?
What does the water represent?
And finally, I hope it would foster dialogue and begin a conversation on the ‘controversial’ subject of abortion, life, death and the afterlife.

After notes:

I was thrilled with my scene. I was glad the smoke machine worked so well. I own the machine and have used it in numerous performances before so I knew how to alter it for the purpose of using it in a classroom environment. I had adjusted the ratio of “smoke juice: to water” this way it wouldn’t bother anyone’s eyes, or lungs…and it wouldn’t set of the smoke alarm in the building. It’ was basically a 90% water solution. This worked against me in some ways, because had there been more fluid the smoke would have stayed in a thicker layer on the floor, instead of rising up and evaporating so quickly. I had really hoped to create the illusion of her walking through the clouds…but I think a moody atmosphere was achieved, so I’m happy with that. The scene was visually beautiful. I think the grey walls, big windows, and use of the setting natural light really helped to set the mood. The red blood added serious “shock value” especially against her stark white dress in the blank space. I was excited when people had asked me later— “where did you hide all of the blood?” This was the first time I had ever used elements of “magic” in my scene and I’m glad that it turned out so well! I definitely ruined a couple of shirts practicing THAT one… but it was totally worth it.

This scene was such a stretch for me and I was cringing while I watched the scene. It went against every bone in my body to rely so heavily on the emotional work with my actress. I have never used a bare stage and those first minutes of her exploration killed me! I was afraid the audience would be bored! I had to trust myself and trust our work. I was rewarded as I watched the faces of the audience and they seemed to be captivated! Success!

Advanced Directing

Today was a great class! There were so many instances where I thought to myself, “I could use that in rehearsal” or “this would be great to use when working with kids! I feel like this class helped to cement my knowledge and understanding on the technique. We revisited the viewpoints work in crossing the space. This time, instead of feeling intimidated, I felt free to explore. I made a mental note that this is not a great activity for someone that is insecure or vulnerable. There must be some sense of ensemble and trust within the group for it to be successful. This time, being that we knew eachother better I feel as though the work was better.
I loved the part where we added a word to our movement. The scenes that immerged were so fun! You could literally see new worlds develop right before your eyes! What an interesting way to create a new story! It would allow the collaborators to explore new worlds with new rules! Fascinating! I also enjoyed the ritualistic nature of the whole exercise. It forced participants to honor the “sacred space” and commit fully to their actions.
Next, we brought the work into work with text. We stood in two lines across from eachother and read a small scene in unison. One line was one character and one line was the other. It felt odd. Having to speak in sync with the whole class felt very limiting. We had to think as one unit. It forced us to be in tune with the people around us. I’m not quite sure how this would work in a rehearsal process. I think it would be time consuming, to say the least.
After that, we broke off into pairs and deconstructed the text. I was paired with Pip and we turned the scene into a conversation between a chair and its owner. It was fun and playful and really helped me to understand what deconstructing a scene feels like. There were so many different versions! I love seeing how text could be played in so many different ways!
Finally we did an activity with the text that reminded me of the “shadowing” work that I did in my drama therapy class. We had one person read the text and someone else would speak the subtext. Another version was reading the text and having someone narrate the action. I really enjoyed this! This is a great exercise to bring into class to teach to young actors. It deals with trust, spontaneity, improv, subtext, cause & effect.