Friday, 16 March 2012

Taking to the stage

I'll warn you now, this is going to be an entry heavily focused around one topic. I'm not sure why that's a warning...if you read these, you clearly have some sort of vague interest in what happens in my life to some extent, and since this is about something that's been fairly prominent in recent life, it matters.

Back towards the beginning of the academic year, there were plans put in place for a German Theatre Project. Some time around late October/early November, sessions started running for it. The only reason I can make that connection is the fact that we had a session on my birthday which interesting way of spending my 20th birthday. Such is the joy of life though! Anyway, we had some sessions, were given a gigantic pad of paper which consisted of the script and told to go off, find a role we liked the look of and then audition for it. Due to being a fairly small group, there wasn't a great deal of competition for the parts. It was largely a case of reading some of the lines and then being congratulated on getting the desired role. Huzzah!

At first, I was pretty sceptical about the project. I'm not an actor by any stretch of the imagination, so the idea of being involved in a theatre production wasn't something that captured my mind. To be honest, I wasn't planning to be involved at all. It was only after the first session when Amanda told me that there was a distinct lack of male representation (a slightly problematic scenario when the play is about four male friends) that I thought about getting involved. So I told Mandy after Core that I was interested in getting involved and before you know it, I was involved.

It was always pretty difficult doing rehearsals knowing we were still missing out on key characters, namely Bruno. Bruno's part was pretty significant as the entire play takes place in his house he wasn't the sort of character we could cut out. After the Christmas break though, we suddenly had a main character and a completed cast with the addition of the German department's favourite Giles: Dr Harrington!

And so it began properly. A full cast and an edited script with a couple of dates chiselled into the future. The idea of performing in early/mid March before the end of semester seemed ideal. I mean, when you're in January, March is a fairly long way off...right? Unsurprisingly though, the last six weeks, much like the rest of this year to be completely honest, have flown by and we quickly found ourselves with the realisation that the play was coming up on us quickly.

There were some fun moments along the way. At the tail end of February, we did a collaboration day with Sheffield Uni. I won't lie...this day was incredibly useful and great fun, but it also served as a gigantic wake up call regarding the amount of work that we had to do to get the play up to standard. This was February 25th, so it left us with...about two weeks? At this point, I think a fair few of us were thinking whether we'd actually be able to get this done. Even with having such a small group, I don't think we could really say we were comfortable knowing our lines and being able to do scenes. Panic stations.

So to counter this, we scheduled a lot of extra sessions. I think we must have clocked up over half a dozen extra rehearsals as we got closer so that we could have everything nailed.

I was quite impressed though when it got to the week before the play and I suddenly knew my lines. It turns out going through them endlessly either on my own, on Skype with Jess and Amanda or during rehearsals did actually get them engrained in my little brain, the words stuck and I was able to start doing scenes and try to figure out how to act.

Acting was always going to be a problem. I'm not an actor. I've never really acted. I was a shepherd in the Nativity in primary school, I was the Wizard of Oz in Year 2 when I did most of my scenes behind a screen (just like in the film) and then I did a Big Brother voice over in Year 6 when I was again behind a screen. So it seems that I'm pretty good at doing voice overs and whatnot behind screens, but I've never really had to do acting. Any other type of performance I've been involved in has had me on the musical side of things like I was for Fiddler on the Roof. That's much easier I think.

Most of it seemed to just occur though. With my character, I was either getting bossed around by Jess, who was playing my wife or drinking and stumbling over my words (unintentionally). We cut out the stumbling over words with the great realisation that I could just speak a little bit slower, which also helped nail pronunciation when that was a little bit of an issue with some words.

So to the performances. In short, they went really well. We knew our lines, we knew when to be on and off stage, we knew when we were active and when to be frozen in position. We had a healthy audience on both nights consisting of students, friends and teaching staff from the German department, and we got some really great feedback and comments from staff about our work. All in all, everyone seemed pretty pleased with it.

Tuesday night brought an end to the Leeds German Theatre Project for 2012 though, and it was a bit of a sad moment really. We'd worked hard on this for a few months and things came together, everyone was pleased with the work and...well, I don't really know what I'll be doing with my time when I've been learning lines and in rehearsal. It's a good chunk of time that I've gained back now, but I think I'd rather be in the project!

All that's left for me to say is to thank everyone. It's going to seem REALLY cheesy, but's all true. I don't go for the sentimental stuff all of the time, so make the most of it!

To Mandy and Helena for coming up with the idea to put on a German play, thank you. It's been great fun and despite my initial hesitance, it turned out to be one of the best things I've gotten involved with.

To Julia for helping with the language and prompting us when we let a line escape our heads, thank you.

To Thomas J-C for helping us to film it, thank you. Hopefully we get to see an edited version where everything will look perfect at some point after Easter!

To Hessie for designing a set and controlling the lights so that we looked professional, thank you.

To the cast: Amanda, Amy, Helena (again), Jess, Jacqui, Lucy, Susan and Dr Giles, thank you. It was great fun working with you guys. We had a lot of laughs and goofed around a fair bit, but we still managed to put on a great show which everyone enjoyed. We made it!

And to anyone who came to see us, thank you. Hopefully you enjoyed it as much as we did.

No comments:

Post a Comment