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RSC Workshop: Acting for the Stage

Introduction:

This workshop was given at the RSC Big Amateur Weekend in The Other Place (the RSC rehearsal spaces)  on the 14th& 15th October. You can get an overview of the week-end’s activity at: RSC Big Amateur Weekend.

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The workshop leader was Annie Tyson, a practitioner of RADA, amd a Guest Practitioner of the RSC. Annie is a freelance, and so can undertake workshops with intereseted groups. To ask Annie if she can run a workshop for you,,  Click on this link, , fill in the form, and press Submit.

 

The workshop explored the 12 questions that a n actor should ask about any role which they are rehearsing, using  A2S3 of Richard III as an example. Of course, you can use these questions with any scene, and it might be particularly appropriate to try out this workshop approach with any of our “Let’s Play” items (explore the “Let’s Play” menu).

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Workshop Overview:

Warm-up:

The workshop started with a warm-up of number of verbal exercises to get participants in the workshop to connect. The warm-up exercises used should get participants of the workshop inter-acting with each other and exercising their voices.

A memorable exercise was the following:

  • The participants of the workshop (25) stand in a circle with the workshop leader, everyone in a relaxed manner.
  • The workshop leader points at a participant as says a word e.g. ‘You’
  • The recipient points at another participant and says the same word ‘You’
  • Each participant in turn looks at  a participant who has not yet been  involved, and repeats the word.

When everyone has participated, and silence resumes, repeat the exercise. The key  is for each participant to be aware of who gives them the cue to speak the word, and who they pass the word on to.

Depending on the number of workshop attendees, further words are introduced, whilst the chain of ‘You’s is active. Other words you use might be: ‘Apple’;  “How dare you!” and “You killed my cat!”.

It’s important to keep as many chains of words going as possible, given the number of attendees. Once all participants are warmed-up, relaxed, and  working well with each other, then its time to move on to the exercise. With a bit of practice, our group was able to have the four words going round the group.

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The Workshop Exercise:

A scene is chosen (e.g. Richard III A2S3) for the participants to work on. Richard III A2S3 is useful because it involves three minor characters who are not involved in other scenes, so it’s very self-contained.

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Each player is allocated a role , and they should think about their role in the light of the following questions:

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1.     Who am I?  (My biography, personality, etc)
2.    Where am I? (Where does the scene take place?)
3.     When is it?  (the period in which the production is set)
4.     What has happened before the play begins? (The back story)
5.     What has just happened ? (before the scene begins)
6.     What do I want? (the most important question – my objective)
7.     Why do I want it? (the overall drive for my action)
8.     Why do I want it now? (Why it matters now)
9.     What would happen if I didn’t get it now? (What are the stakes?)
10.    How do I get what I want? (My line by line choices, means, tactics, etc)
11.    What must I overcome? (The obstacles, inner and outer)
12.    What are my relationships? (The precise nature of your relationships in the play)

If you would like a more detailed version of this set of questions and how to answer them, together with  the script we used, ias a pdf,  click on this link, , fill in the form, and press Submit.

 

Theses questions are explored by the workshop leader as the attendees play the scene. This requires some one with imagination, who is familiar with the scene, and can stimulate the actors to give more. Annie did a brilliant job of challenging the workshop attendees at the workshop to develop and deepen their performances by asking questions based on the questionnaire above.

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To ask Annie if she can run a workshop for you,,  Click on this link, , fill in the form, and press Submit.

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The text of the scene we explored (Richard III A2S3) s given below in standard format (black text on a white background). If you’re playing one of these parts, you may find it fun to play your part in Parts and Cues form, or Highlight Text. (If you don’t know about Parts and Cues or Highlight Text, you’ll find index entries to the right of this post (or after it on a mobile phone) which let you explore the different formats.  To use Parts and Cues, or Highlight Text  for this scene, click on the appropriate link below (the script will open on a new tab on your browser):

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ist_Citizen:                                Parts and Cues                                      Highlight Text
2nd_Citizen:                              Parts and Cues                                      Highlight Text
3rd Citizen:                                Parts and Cues                                      Highlight Text

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Of course, you can use this exercise with any of our “Let’s Play” scenes. Print out a copy of the questionnaire, and use it with any of the “Let’s Play” scenes for the number of people (or a multiple of that number)you’ve got.

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Note that the Shakespeare text below, may not appear on certain broswers. If it doesn’t appear on your browser, then click on this link, fill in the first two sections of the form, and press submit at the bottom of the form, and you’ll be emailed a copy of the pdf.

Now here’s the standard text (we hope):

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Let’s Play!

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Richard Forsyth
‘The Director’
Players-Shakespeare.com

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If you are using, or thinking of using, Players-Shakespeare.com’s edition of Shakespeare’s plays for production rehearsals or play-reading, why don’t you ask to become a member of our Support for Playreading & Productions Closed FB group?

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If you want to know how our Shakespeare edition is developing,  ‘like’ our Facebook page, and you’ll get more detailed updates on Facebook on what’s happening.

 

 

3 Responses to "RSC Workshop: Acting for the Stage"

  • Richard Forsyth
    October 23, 2017 - 3:19 pm Reply

    James Jagiello of Instant Shakespeare Company in USA commented:

    Would love to see this here in the States!

    • Richard Forsyth
      October 23, 2017 - 3:21 pm Reply

      Richard Forsyth replied

      Well, James, you just have to fill in the form attached to the post, and have a group from them to talk to, and be willing to pay them. Maybe Instant Shakespeare company in New York might think this is worthwhile. I came back from the week-end absolutely amazed. It was enormous fun and I learned a lot. Excellent workshops!!!!

  • Richard Forsyth
    October 23, 2017 - 3:22 pm Reply

    Alexander Kuskis of Ontario, Canada commented:

    The RSC is great. I wish we could see them more on this side of the pond. I flew to New York for their productions the last time they were.

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