ASPIRE BLOG: A Week of Extremes

This week at ASPIRE rehearsals I was reminded that occasionally less is more on stage. Those that have been through the program before will know I keep asking people to be big, to have heightened expressions and movement, and make sure the audience can see you! But this week I was asking some of our ensembles to pull back and be more natural - you don’t need to be noticed.

Acting naturally onstage is one of the hardest things you can ask a performer to do. As a group we are not generally introverted people, we like to be noticed! So watching the junior drama guys walk across the stage as everyday characters wandering around town on Tuesday initially looked like no town centre I have seen. Everyone was madly gesturing to each other, people were taking selfies with a busker, in short it was a town filled with caricatures. We asked the group to stop acting, really think about just being ‘normal’ (whatever that is!). They started to get there but to ask an actor to stop acting is a hard call; it takes a lot of work!

Likewise, as I watched the singers rehearsing a piece I heard these gorgeous voices coming through, belting out notes beautifully. However the song they were singing didn’t need gorgeous sounding vibrato, it doesn’t require everyone making it "their own". It just needs you to sing the notes with no trills or frills. For a singer it’s a hard thing to just sing the basic notes on the page and not put your own flair on it.

Over with the dancers the message was the total opposite. They need to PERFORM! Whether Lauren was asking our dancers to stop pointing toes and just relax their frames for a particular piece of choreography or to throw themselves around the stage summoning up all their strength and control, the message was you need to be an obvious character and you are trying to make yourself stand out.

And speaking of performing it is my hope that the band will appear onstage this year and for that to happen they have to be able to really perform to an audience, something pretty alien to most of them. The band are a very cool bunch (as muso’s tend to be), not needing to impress anyone. The challenge for them will be finding their inner extrovert, and embracing it.

Big challenges for all our ensembles, but that’s what we’re all about here at ASPIRE. It would be boring if it were too easy!

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Anna Kerrigan

Anna is the Artistic Director of ASPIRE, an audition-based drama, dance, music and creative and performing arts program produced by the Catholic Schools Office of Maitland-Newcastle.

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