Last Friday, I had a moment.
Where was I?
An empty room, S5 room, Roding House, empty, cold, save a few chairs stacked up against the sides, a piano, and 16 dizzy and out of breath actors whizzing past me, committing 110% to the warm-ups and exercises, with our equally if not more astounding Voice lecturer Colin running around the room with us, voice fully supported while he rang out instructions.
“Imagine the air. Imagine the sunlight of the early morning just touching the tops of the highest booths, slowly creeping its way down to where the Queen and the royal family would be looking down upon the play below. Just below, the Lords and Ladies, the well off, and somewhat well-to-do, at the upper and middle galleries sit and tan themselves in the summer sunlight. And finally in front of the stage, the yard, where would stand the lowest levels of society, the direction in which Shakespeare’s insults and cruder jokes would land…
“Imagine the 2 pillars on either side of the stage that may block you. Don’t forget the audience on the far sides, they too are paying you attention. And when you turn your back, you are still speaking, breathing, still living and taking them in, reaching them when you cannot see them…target, shoot!
We were lying down at some point, his voice still rang:
“Now above you, imagine the high ceiling, how high is it?
What do you see? Standing centre stage, behind you the balcony, the doors almost 3 meters up that lead to the dressing rooms beyond.
“Next to you, each other, jointly creating the world. If we fall, we look to each other for support, and each line an impulse for the next. ”
If I had teleported to my younger self 20 years ago and said, “Stephanie, you will be performing on Shakespeare’s Globe stage in London, ” I would have been greeted with a furrowed and quizzical brow.
Yet here I am, I can’t believe it’s only 2 weeks to go before I get to rehearse at and PERFORM on THAT stage!
(exclusive invite, so PM me! haha)
Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Laurence Olivier, only several of the myriad of illustrious names to have graced the venue with their magic.
Last Friday, during a Voice studies class at East 15 Acting School, my group had been tasked to prepare the opening invocation from Henry V, and were instructed to imagine that we were on the Globe stage itself, taking in the exact dimensions, architecture, artwork, and audience eyeline. This was to prepare us mentally and physically to successfully perform embracing the specific demands of the space.
“Breathe the audience into ourselves and into our words as we breathed out the text to them with potency.”
“Our backs and personal spaces need to be alive and to affect them.”
A big ask indeed.
What would it take to command on a stage such as that?
All the work we have been doing the last 4 weeks at East 15, as part of the intense opening chapter to our training in the MFA Acting International programme, has been building to this point.
How ready are we as individuals / chorus to project our voices steadily and effortlessly across an expanse of some metres from stage to audience, delivering emotion, intention, and personal connection?
How prepared are we to support each other onstage with this monumental task?
How strong are our bodies, having worked thru countless movement classes, freeing up tension, strengthening the core, building endurance?
How deserving are we to even step on that stage, and call ourselves actors, and speak the words that have been alive for over 400 years in this; the native country for which it was writ and thus was written?
(insert dramatic pause)
The craft of the actor astounds me.
You may experience a coming home to yourself, so that you can truthfully portray any human being. And not just once.
I could describe it like having to get to know the inside of an engine so you can deconstruct the sedan and build the sportscar, and then drive it with the ease of a Formula 1 champion. Over and over again.
20 years-ago Stephanie would have relished the imaginary circumstances like someone who was admiring a great painting, but could never own one.
My eyes welled up with tears, dripping onto the yoga mat I was lying on. This dream I had harboured since I fell in love with Shakespeare in my teens, not long after watching an RSC production of The Merchant of Venice in KL was coming true.
I will tell you what it is REALLY like in 2 weeks time.
Then again, this may all be Much Ado About Nothing, but I’ve come so far that I’m bound to let loose some floodgates when my feet touch the pounded timber of the wooden O!
Alas! Alack! Hey-ho!
Copyright © 2017 Stephanie Van Driesen
#StephinUK #SendStephtoUK BLOG #0004
The end of 4 weeks also means we get shuffled again into different groups, so I’m going to miss my talented X Men First Class 2017, us who popped our East 15 cherries so willingly & who allowed me to lovingly mamasan-over for a while!
I love you Brenda Liz López Oihane Rodríguez David Soyka @siniviitanen Shauni Ramai Yu Yang Siqi Hu Vincent Rosec Leyah Melikian Tamara Koltes Sarah Oschmann Jamil Toney Katie Witkowski Morgana BaldisseraKathleen Glynn Cristina Tudor