Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the RSC Open Stages Skills Exchange in Wales. I was one of ten cast members from Bath Drama’s Romeo & Juliet cast to attend. The workshop was held in Cardiff at the Sherman Cymru Theatre over Saturday and Sunday. We participated in two workshops on both days that included: Stage Combat, Text & Voice, Movement, and Acting. Theatre groups from England and Wales that were participating in the weekend are all involved with Shakespeare productions this year. I really enjoyed getting to meet actors from around the UK and hearing about their shows. It was a weekend full of sharing, exploring, and learning.
I traveled to Cardiff early on Saturday morning starting with a taxi ride to Bath Spa rail station and three connections via the railway to Cardiff. This was my first time to travel by train into Cardiff on my own and I found it very accessible and convenient. Especially since the Sherman theatre is right near a train stop. I was lucky to be able to stay in Cardiff that night with blogger and friend Laura, who was an amazing host. As I mainly work from home at the moment and take care of my two boys, it was really relaxing to get away for a theatre opportunity like the RSC Open Stages Skills Exchange.
The RSC did a great job and separating everyone into four groups for each of the workshops so that we could mingle with actors from the different theatre groups. My first workshop on Saturday was Stage Combat with Tom Jordan where I got to reconnect with my stage combat training from my theatre major at Uni. While no quarter staffs, rapier, or daggers were used we did get to learn slaps, punches, chokes, and eye gauges for the stage. It was a very active class with great techniques to bring back for our shows.
In the afternoon I took Voice & Text with Victoria who works on Matilda on the West End. We learned ways to prepare our voice and techniques to learn our lines so that we connect with the words on the page. The best part was being able to work with pieces from Shakespeare and use movement as well as voice to bring out the true feeling and motivation behind the lines.
After a fun night catching up with Laura from Side Street Style, I started the morning on Sunday with movement with Gary. There was no room to be shy in this class and he was able to get us all to really open up and be ready to perform with our movement warm up that was far from anything boring. What I enjoyed most was being able to tap into my improv training and experience with taking on many different characters, forgetting about words, and really focusing on the many ways we can move and use our bodies. Any one that knows me, knows I love to raise my hand and volunteer. I did just that in movement for a very fun partner exercise. It made me really miss my theatre courses and being able to be so physical and less tied to words on a script.
I ended the RSC Open Stages Skills Exchange with the Acting workshop with Jane. It was good refresher course and I enjoyed most seeing what the other actors brought to the stage. We were each given a few lines to memorize and a partner to come up with any scene we wanted. For the second workshop I was playing a pregnant woman (hence me sticking my stomach out in the photo above) and I loved getting to work with an actress I had not met before. It was a refreshing experience.
Q: Have you thought about getting involved with your local community theatre?