I returned to work after a very quick 10 day trip the UK on Tuesday and in the haze of jet lag I had the joy of working with all our junior and intermediate ensemble students on a large set piece.
I must admit I had mixed feelings (mainly excitement mixed with dread) as we started to look at the piece but I was pleasantly surprised by the group as they followed directions well and created some really interesting and impressive performance work. One of the great things about Tuesday for the cast was it took them all out their comfort zones. Firstly, they were split into groups with cast members from other ensembles. This is a great opportunity to work with new people and their skill sets, for example, the dancers work very differently to the actors or singers and it’s great for the guys to experience a different way of approaching something.
Each group found the task difficult in a different way. I asked them to create their own work, which can be challenging for dancers who are used to being taught choreography. They had to create something that fit into a specific amount of beats. This is a new skill for our actors and it was all physical work - no speaking or singing - which is tough for our vocalists. One student commented to me that this was really hard! And that’s the point! If it were easy all the time, it would be boring. Plus, I imagine everyone left with a sense of achievement. I know I did! The piece in question is going to look really great.
If I have one small request of our cast it is that we try and remember not to talk and comment to each other when working. I understand we all get excited and want to share this with our friends but there are a lot of us and when 10 of us talk or whisper to someone at once it’s actually quite loud. It seems unbelievable but, trust me, it wastes a lot of valuable rehearsal time waiting for people to be quiet. It’s one of the hardest things for young performers to remember and I totally get it - we all like to talk. Having just come off a 24 hour flight with my two young children I am acutely aware of how much noise young people like to make! Remember, though, it gets really frustrating for your directors if they are constantly asking for quiet and waiting for you to stop talking. You're also wasting your own rehearsal time.
We have a full day’s rehearsal this Sunday and one of the great things about this is that the cast will get a lunch break together where they can socialise and chat away to their hearts content. Maybe it will get it out of our systems a bit…