ASPIRE BLOG: A Note on Learning

A common misconception about the creative arts is that we learn solely by doing. Of course, through workshops and classes and skills development we learn a huge amount about our creative pursuit but one of the other, big ways we learn about performance is by watching it and listening to it.

I know I have mentioned this before. I’m a bit of a broken record when it comes to watching live performance. That’s because it really is so important to being a well-rounded performer. The last piece of theatre I went to see was Tabac Rouge as part of the Sydney Festival, a feast for the eyes; it has given me a huge amount of inspiration. The main thing that I loved was the staging; it really has made me think a lot bigger in terms of the visual picture as a director. I don’t have the budget to repeat what I saw, but it has given me food for thought

I try and see something at the theatre once a month, at least. At the moment I am trying to see "spectacles". So, for example, in a few weeks I have tickets to Nitro Circus. Am I planning on including a ramp in the set for the production and sending a few cast members onstage on dirtbikes to do jumps? No. I have a feeling OH&S laws prevent me from doing so, but I will be watching the presentation, listening to the dialogue, seeing how they get an audience "ramped up". Can I find some theatrical way of repeating that sense of adrenaline? Again, the experience will add to my ever growing and developing sense of theatre and performance. 

This is my roundabout way of saying go and see things. From your local amateur theatre company production to a massive arena walking with dinosaurs to a Latin American dance concert, you will take something new away from what you see. If you go and see a live band at the Civic Theatre or a string quartet at the Conservatorium you will gain something from both experiences, you will see how other musicians perform, how they tackle tricky passages of music, how a conductor steers an orchestra and experience how important dynamics are in keeping an audience engaged. 

In the same way, you need to read plays, listen to all genres of music and watch different styles of choreography on Youtube. Even stuff you think you don’t like or ‘get’. If you’re a fan of pop music try out some folk or some electronic or modern classical. If the only plays you have sat down and read are those you study in school, get something out of the library by a playwright you have never heard of. In doing so, you’re expanding your knowledge, your own learning and understanding of the performing arts.

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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.