We recently welcomed The Stanislavski Experience for two workshops with our GCSE and A Level Drama students.
The sessions were run by Annie Sutton, an inspiring theatre practitioner who trained with Desmond Jones and Jacques Lecoq and has 30 years’ experience working as a writer, deviser, actor and director around the world.
The afternoon began with an introduction to Steven Berkoff for our Lower Sixth students, who will be applying Berkoff’s bold and exaggerated methodologies to their own devised work this term. Annie put the six students through their paces, with exercises focused on physicality and debunking myths surrounding Berkoff’s work: “People think it’s a lot of waving your arms about, but you have to have a truth”.
During the intense two hour workshop, students began to work fantastically as an ensemble, developing their listening and silent communication skills through exploration of ‘Greek Chorus’ and the ‘Seven Levels of Tension’. Students began to consider how they could apply Berkoff’s out-there, grotesque and over-the-top performance style to their set text The Treatment which explores themes of xenophobia, love and sight.
The session culminated in our students using face paint to quickly distance themselves from naturalism, the familiar form of theatre to which they all seem to be pulled to instinctively, which was hugely effective in demonstrating Berkoff’s exaggerated style.
From the physical to the political; almost without stopping for breath Annie then went on to lead a brilliant workshop with our Fourth Year students, introducing them to their practitioner Bertolt Brecht. Students discussed some of the ideas they had previously discussed in response to the stimuli provided for their Component 1 exam, including class, political history and dystopia. Annie introduced them to exercises that exploited Brecht’s methodologies that students could include in their own performances such as narration, gestus and placards. One of the most effective devices introduced was that of characters having representative or generalised names such as ‘The Victim’, ‘The Scientist’, ‘The Friend’ to allow audiences to reflect on how the play they are watching relates to their own lives.
Both workshops served as fantastic introductions to these two world-renowned theatre practitioners that will inform so much of Fourth and Lower Sixth students’ lessons over the next two terms.
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