The HotHouse Company recently held a two-day workshop, Immersive Experience Weekend, with director Adam Mitchell, dance and physical theatre specialist Claudia Alessi and WAAPA voice in acting and musical theatre lecturer Luzita Fereday, which focused on three main aspects of performance; voice, movement and monologue. The following is a reflection from All Saints’ College Year 11 student Lauren Anderson who attended the workshop.
First, we worked with Old Saint Adam Mitchell (1996), an award-winning theatre director known for his inventive contemporary theatre productions. We started with a number of general warm ups, and Adam then led us in an exercise involving moving around the space that aimed to reveal a sense of presence that is vital to working in theatre. We observed that having a presence involves a number of different aspects, ranging through direction, posture and eye contact, and then moved on to creating physical images, using two people to create emotions relating to the power relationships within the images.Adam then worked with individuals on their monologues whilst the rest of the group observed and offered advice on how they could alter their pieces. He gave us the advice to approach monologue work with the idea of personalising the text by using word association to create images that you can relate to, in order to promote a more emotional response to the work.
Claudia Alessi, an award-winning dance and physical theatre specialist who has worked with companies such as Co3 and WAAPA, focused on movement. We worked on two main exercises: one that focused on the key areas in the body that initiate movement, and another that focused on the creation of drama from movement first. We learnt that there are five key areas of the body that we can work with: the head, arms and shoulders, the abdominal region, the pelvis, and our legs and feet. We specifically looked at how we can move and isolate each area, and how having fluidity in all of these areas can really help with movement in performance pieces.
The second exercise required us to work in pairs to create a dynamic piece focusing on the principles of round, by, and through, and how we can use movement to go round, by, and through our partners. From this choreographed movement, we observed each other’s work and saw that there was a range of possibilities from these three stimuli that all created fascinating and captivating works. Without altering our choreography, we then observed what sort of relationships and/or characters were coming out of the story from our movement.
On the Sunday we worked on voice technique with Luzita Fereday, a lecturer on voice in acting and musical theatre at WAAPA. We looked at the major components of the voice, which include our breathing, our body, vibration, resonance and articulation, as well as observing how emphasis can change the delivery of a text. To finish it off we performed a beautiful rendition of “Down Down Baby” (a ‘song’ that requires articulation and focus on consonant sounds as well as good hand-eye coordination).
We worked first on breathing and “opening up” the body, and it became very clear that to have an impactful voice you need to use your whole body, which I found quite surprising. We then looked at how we can alter the vibrations and resonance of our voices, and how these vibrations are turned into sound using articulation. Using the opening prologue of Romeo & Juliet, we worked in pairs to complete an exercise which involved the repetition of lines to see how we emphasise the text.
Overall, the Immersive Weekend was a very insightful, interesting and enjoyable experience that I have personally benefited from, as working with such extraordinary artists was an amazing opportunity and one that I will not forget.