Last summer was my first time at the Actors Space doing ‘The Art of Comedy’ and it was for many reasons the most magical and constructive experience. In this generous, safe place that Marian & Simon have made, I learned to strip away my judgment and quieten my overthinking in order to really listen and react in the moment. To trust my instinct and to make brilliant ‘mistakes’.
I sometimes find the idea of remembering the joy a little silly, I create because I love to. But actually so often day to day and specifically in auditions since the workshop I find myself actively making the decision to relax, to have fun and to revel in playing. It’s a treat.
The course has given me the confidence to begin to create my own work and further explore my clown. It’s exciting. It has made my approach to working with others far less fearful. The wonderful structure of the course, the intelligent and spot on teaching and the beautiful setting made for a hugely positive time. I really couldn’t recommend it more. Thank you to the Actors Space. Words will not do you justice but you have stayed with me and I will be back. Anna Brooks-Beckman, UK
Marian Masoliver talks about The Actors Space approach to teaching (excerpts from the website).
Our aim is to empower the actor to be fully free to play. This, to me is the most important thing. Without play there is no need for technique – as then the performance may look good but is just an empty vessel.
Many things are involved in acting; The fun and the freedom that one can experience through acting are essential for the delivery of a strong performance. We know that to get to that place where the actor is free to play we have to cultivate a strong sense of trust and a solid foundation of fun and safety…
Our feedback is honest and truthful, yet always constructive. In this environment the actor feels supported, safe and not judged.
Throughout these acting courses we develop a relationship with each individual, taking them through their own personal journey. Everyone has different needs; we ‘read’ those needs and give each student the necessary tools when required.
This approach gives the actor a chance to try new things without fear and even to get it wrong. Through encouragement, enjoyment of the work and the right techniques, each individual is guided to a place of genuine creation.
As actors and teachers we have a very high standard of work, which helps the group learn and develop quickly. In a short period of time the students create great work.
Working in this way we have seen participants blossom time and time again!
In February 2016 I was lucky enough to go to Northern Ecuador with my partner Simon Edwards, with whom 18 years ago, we co-founded The Actors Space, an international centre of research, training and creation for the Dramatic Arts, near Barcelona.
In the Andean city of Ibarra, province of Imbabura, we worked with ‘Calle Paz y Respeto’ a collective of gang members who after experiencing real tragedy decided to turn things around – see the trailer of the documentary ‘Peace is Inevitable’ about their change, produced last year in Ecuador and co-directed by Simon Edwards.
Radio Publica Ecuador’s director Giovanna Tassi, was so impressed with their change that she gave them a Nationwide Radio Program to tell their stories and to promote Peace.
Simon and I, in association with The Prem Rawat Foundation, were working with these young people for two months, directing and helping produce their weekly Radio Show ‘Reacciona’, dramatising stories and coaching the performers as we created together radio Theatre Plays aimed at vulnerable young people. These plays are universal stories with a message of Peace filled with drama and comedy.
The experience has been challenging and wonderful at the same time… and so fulfilling that we are still writing scripts and giving feedback on their show from our centre near Barcelona.
The adventures don’t stop! We have an action packed month, filming at the British Film Institute in London and at the end of the month we are going to the Canary Islands to shoot yet another short film.
And of course we are looking forward to this summer’s International Theatre and Film Workshops here at The Actors Space. This is going to be the 18th year of these special workshops, with people coming from all over the world to train and push the boundaries of dramatic and comic creation. There are still some places available.
Hi, my name is Martin Condon and I am an actor living and working in Irealnd.
I first went to study and play at The Actors Space in 2009 and have returned every year since. Testimony in itself I think of how incredible the place is.
I use the word ‘play’ becuase it is through the principles of ‘play’ where the work truly comes alive. And this is possibly one of the most important principles I have learned at The Actors Space, beacuse whether it’s a heavy dramatic scene or a ridiculously fun clown piece, if the actors stay within the spirit of playfulness the truth of the work cannot but emerge. I think this is one of the greatest pitfalls that many actors succumb to and something that kills all creativity. There are many reasons for this such as, trying to hard to get it ‘right’ and forcing it , taking ourselves and our work to seriously and forgeting that we are ‘playing’ and it’s only when we are open and free do we alow the magic to hapen. This is the number one thing that I now always try to remember when I approach a new piece of work. This is what Marian and Simon religiously teach at The Actors Space.
Another invaluable principle I’ve learned is a concept called ‘The Gap’. And this concept works in may diferent levels: 1. In releation to oneself (as a character), 2. In relation between a character and another character, 3.In relation between the actor/character and the audience. It has to do with allowing a ‘gap’ to exist pre and post an event which allows for an emotional journey that an actor can live and experience. For example, it is so important that prior to an event happening the actor isn’t already ‘full’ of an already exisiting emotion or state of beeing which prevents him/her to experince it or go any further with it (happiness, sadness, anger etc) after the event takes place. This is equaly true in relation to the artist and the audience, if the chacater is already feeling and ‘showing’ everything to the audience it leaves them cold and unaffected because they are prevented from embarking on any emotional journey themeslves, as the actor is already doing everything for them. There is no ‘gap’ for the audience to taste and experience. If you think about it t is a very self indulgent practice for the actor to engage in. It makes the whole experience about them and not the audience.
Another remarkable thing I’ve also learned and experienced at The Actors Space is what wonderful and incredible work can happen when the actors are given the space and encouragement to just be free and play. I have witnessed time and time again work that has been so powerful, funny, heartbreaking and ‘real’ on a scale that would match a lot of times trump and rehearsed pieces that are considered polished work in many other places. It amazes me what can be achieved when the right principles are put into action and how easily the ‘work’ becomes when we don’t interfere and think we need to fix things, be it over zealous direction by well meaning directors or even the actors themselves trying to force a piece of work.
These are just some of the invaluable lessons I’ve learned at The Actors Space. I know in my heart I am a much stronger performer now (and as a result have received a lot more job offers) on account of my time at The Actors Space whch funnily enough are also some of the happiest memories in life I have. The Actors Space really is a very special, one of a kind place where ‘work’ and ‘play’ fuse into one. I always come away from The Actors Space with a renewed vigor for acting and bubbling with an excitement to get working creatively that I’ve never received from any other acting classes I’ve taken.
The Actors Space in Vic Barcelona truly desrves the right to use this name.
Martin Condon, Ireland.
Martin Condon is one of the most talented actors I have come across. I have seen him apply these principles over and over again at The Actors Space, in what it seems effortless acting… yet the results are astonishing, leaving the audience with an open mouth, such is the power of his performance both in drama and comedy. The principles that Martin talks about in this blog are some of the basis of all our workshops.
Marian Masoliver, director/teacher at The Actors Space, Vic (Barcelona)
The Mask, a fundamental tool for Theatre and essential for actor training…acting with Masks structures and simplifies Play…It lifts movement and text above the naturalistic, filtering the essential while ignoring the anecdotal… Acting becomes ample, simple and elemental… When playing a Mask the actor cannot use the body or the voice as we do in everyday life, physical attitudes are needed! …So, what is a physical attitude? To compose the body in such a way that the actor gives the illusion of another character, animal, object, action, state, emotion, passion…’
These are all words by Ana Vazquez de Castro, a great Spanish theatre practitioner that had, amongst many other great theatre masters, the same great teacher as myself, Jacques Lecoq.
I completely concur with her…and I admire her. I would have like to know her, unfortunately she passed away last year…
Acting technique can be taught and Masks are great for that; but there is something that cannot be taught which fascinates me…and that is ‘ Play’ (with capital P). Rare and delightful… It is undefinable because, it is an essence, a feeling, an energy that contains in it a great power, unique, simple and beautiful…and you cannot make an actor ‘repeat that’, it is as unique and alive as each breath because it only lives in the moment…
If you understand Spanish I recommend watching the video bellow. It is 1:30 min. For those who like me are passionate about physical theatre it is a must see. Just sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy this Masterclass – from Neutral Mask to Commedia Dell’Arte, a real treat to watch, such is Ana Vazquez’s talent…and not just technically but also in ‘Play’ (with capital P). It is not easy what she does because she is alone on stage (so who do you play with)? If you don’t understand Spanish you can jump to 1:16:29 and watch a delightful scene between Arlecchino and Arlecchineta (her own creation) in which she uses ‘Pantomime Blanche’, or you can watch a a sketch of Otello in which she plays 4 characters (full Masks, no text) from min 57:45
‘it is your creativity which ultimately will be the key to freedom’ – Ana Vazquez de Castro
Thank you Ana for sharing your great knowledge and insight.