Written by Greg, company member of Tomorrow's Talent
My name's Greg and I'm taking part in the NT Connections Programme this year, for the second time.
I have been involved in Connections before in 2012, playing Dave in Generation Next by Meera Syal which was an incredible experience!
This time I'm going to be playing Douglas in Daffyd James' Heritage. This is a really exciting play, which "explores the darker side of nationalism."
The vast majority of our rehearsals so far have been sat (or stood) in circles.
We have spent thirty six hours of rehearsals; without actually doing any rehearsing.
Instead, we have spent hours understanding, analysing and discussing the play. - It's all a bit English Lit if you know what I mean.
However most of us like English Lit so s'all good.
We spent a lot of the time reading through the script, each time we had a task to do. The first time was a straight read through.
I've forgotten an important detail... - Gavin thought it would be a great idea to not tell us our characters until we a week before we started to set; meaning that we spent most of these rehearsals in anticipation. (However in hindsight it was actually a good idea as we became more understanding of the play as a whole and of other character's perspectives)
How did you do a read through when you don't know your character? I hear you begging for my theatrical wisdom.
...We just read it through line by line in a circle...
We read through the script once again. Instead of writing down facts, we broke the play into smaller sections, - similar to scenes - calling them units. Inside these units we would mark events in the script that affect every character on stage. This technique was actually really useful, not only did it break down the play into separate sections, it consequently made it easier to learn lines, - which is always a bonus!
We also made a timeline of events leading up to the start of the play. We used post-it notes and stuck them on the mirror, however they weren't sticky enough and kept falling off. It was my job to order them correctly and write down the dates, so of course it was me, running around, flapping like a chicken trying to pick them up and stick them back on as more from the other side would fall down.
Including lots of sitting down in circles, we played some games and did many activities.
In one of the games, we had to stand (in a circle) and throw two balls to each other. When we threw the first ball, we had to shout the characters' name, and when we threw the second, we had to shout out a theme of the play. This was all well and good, until some bright spark thought it would be a great idea to include both balls at the same time...
...well what can i say, theatre kids and physical activity aren't a good mix.
Gavin then put us into pairs, with people that we hadn't really worked with much before. I was put with Amie (which was quite funny because I've known her since primary school but ssshhhh don't tell Gavin!) We had to talk about how we found/find school/college, a time in our lives where we have been scared and what we want to get out of the National Theatre Connections experience.
· I said about how for the first two years of school i was a bit of a loser, - I mean, my MUM did used to do my hair...
· Then I said about about when you're little and you lose your mum in Tescos, - that's scary. (I still do it though)
· Then I said about how the Connections programme is so exciting and also so much fun. I like the idea of fully developing characters, understanding and interpreting the key themes and contexts of the play.
Our exercises then went up a notch in difficulty. We focused on our voice and the way we talk. We sat down (in another circle) and we went round the group, talking about how our voice changes when we're in different social situations. We then did an exercise where we had to read out some of the script. At every full stop we had to stamp our foot down and then change direction. At every comma we had to simply change direction, and at every question mark we had to swivel around. I tried doing this in front of the group, on my first attempt I rushed and I struggled. Then I slowed it down and tried again and it actually really helped to understand the structuring of the characters thoughts, and added much more meaning.
the next weekend we finally did some setting.
It was sooo cool to get the play (literally) on its feet. We worked on the opening pages, I can tell from the beginning its going to be so much fun.
For those that don't know about Connections (I can imagine most of you do), you start off performing at your local theatre. Then you move onto a Partner Theatre, - ours is in Norwich. The way that we are setting and the way we are formatting the play is very different to conventional methods. (No I'm not telling you'll have to come see!) This is really exciting however it could be hard work adjusting when we're actually in the theatre.
Thanks a lot for reading!
- check out my blog for weekly (ish) updates on how we're getting along! www.ttheritage.blogspot.com