As an artist or arts educator you never really stop learning and we were lucky enough to welcome respected vocal coach Avigail Herman and acclaimed theatre director and physical theatre expert Shane Anthony to Newcastle last week as they ran sessions in ‘Working with Solo Singers’ and ‘Physical Theatre’ respectively.
I have to at this point give a massive shout out to three ASPIRE vocalists Izzy Rendina, Billie Wheildon and Zoe Walker for being brave enough to be critiqued on the floor in front of a dozen or so teachers from the diocese. It’s never easy to take on constructive criticism, no matter how constructive it may be and even less easy to receive it in front of an audience. The girls handled themselves so professionally and were a credit to ASPIRE and their schools. I know they learnt a massive amount about performance and I hope the teachers benefitted as much as they did.
The reason I have highlighted these sessions is because at the heart of what both presenters talked about was the need to find truth in one’s performance. This might seem an easy thing, but it is actually quite difficult. It is very easy to get caught up in the business of acting or singing or dancing or even playing a piece of music and not really know why we’re doing it. Why we say that line of dialogue in that spot or move that way at this point. We know how it’s supposed to sound or look but we aren’t really sure why we’re doing it. Both presenters asked us to simply be in the moment and allow ourselves to react to the lyrics or the movement of another actor and just be honest.
It all sounds incredibly arty now I’m writing it down but it really works. The difficulty comes from allowing yourself to just go with it and stop over thinking. In order for a performance to connect with an audience we have to ensure we are authentic. We must find a connection to what we’re doing and play that. Otherwise we are really just reciting lines or doing a dance move. I will be asking the entire ASPIRE cast to think about this when they start rehearsing together. It’s a valuable lesson and one I am very happy to have been reminded of.