Tag Archives: Theatre training

The Theatre of the Future – Interview with Simon Edwards 

We, both of us, Marian and I have been aspiring to create what Lecoq was calling for, many  years ago, which was to go out and create the theatre of the future.

Well, now here we are in the future, and here at The Actors Space, whenever we do any work on a daily basis, session by session basis, incredible work comes out every time. It feels like we’ve been gathering different exotic fruits in different places, with different participants, and also our own different perspectives, rooted in Lecoq’s work, the person who brought us together. When the audience experience THAT it can be a very rich and very powerful human experience. And that for me is the joy of theatre. 

THE AUDIENCE AND THE STORIES 

Listen to the audience, listen to that whisper inside that is guiding you to take another step. It’s not overreaching, it’s like just another little step.

And then trust, as well, the inner voice that goes “ooh, ooh”. When there’s that egomania that’s around sometimes with us, you need to be protected. Masks are a great example because they form a front in one way, as to who we seem to be and also as a protection. 

But again what’s more important is the thing that’s behind the mask because in the end the work that happens through acting, or creating characters or stories, or even the mask work, or the clown work is about what’s beneath the superficial.

The depth of existence is huge. It’s obvious, it doesn’t even need to be said. But when we share the work, drama or comedy, it can be discovered. In the work in relation to the others… Life itself is a miracle, so when you’re on stage having a blast you’re reflecting part of that miracle for the audience member who’s there. And remember they may be going through terrible times, they may be going through the loss of a loved one, they may be passing away themselves. So your work has to be as, without falling into perfectionism, as rigorous as possible, as disciplined as possible and as respectful as possible to yourself and to them, and it’s a simple contract:

Tell stories and have a wonderful time together. As soon as fire was discovered, around the campfire there became the need to tell stories. It’s as old as that. Because in that human wisdom is passed on. 

And what we’re about, definitely, is about underneath the mask and you don’t have to be brilliant, you don’t have to be talented, you don’t have to be any of those things, or any of those concepts one would have about themselves, either in a positive way or in a negative way. Just somebody coming along and having fun and wanting to explore human nature. And the nice thing is that it’s not about “Oh my God, my nature”. It’s not reflecting back on me, it’s human nature. It’s much more about the audience, one in the audience than about the actor and their complexes and hang-ups. 

And that’s a terrain that I reckon (and Lecoq was pointing at it rather a lot) that was the misunderstood Stanislavski work. Stanislavski’s work is very interesting. But a lot of the time people are looking into traumas and problems, and things that are locked up in their body, and they’re trying to regurgitate them into the dramatic scene. And it’s like “for goodness sakes, just be present in the scene”. And things will come out naturally. The character will have that journey and that experience. You don’t have to put yourself there, self-sacrificing to show how good an actor you are and how emotive you can be. That always gets in the way. 

And, in fact, in life, often the most emotional and powerful stuff is when people stop their emotions, stunt their emotions, for whatever reason. And then what happens, as long as the audience gets the feeling that’s beneath that mask, that’s what’s important. It’s not about an emotional display of fireworks and tears, or how great an actor or emotive a person can be. It’s about the audience having a poetic journey.

These are extracts from an interview made by Natacha Elmir. You can listen to Simon on this page. 

There are some places still available on this summer workshops. Contact marian@actors-space.org if you are ineterested.

About The Art of Comedy Workshop

 

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

Find out about The Art of Comedy Workshop

 

About our approach – how we teach at The Actors Space, Barcelona

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!

Find out more  about our International Theatre and Film Workshops. Some Early Bird places still available!

 

 

The Actors Space in Ecuador and more…

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.

10382385_1459436580982651_9018087935358952627_o

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.

SAM_1265

 

DSC05655

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.

About The Actors Space – A testimonial by Martin Condon

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 Power of Masks – A Masterclass

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.

 

The Actors Space offers International Theatre Workshops in a unique setting, right in the heart of Catalunya and near Barcelona. 
We also travel around the world to share these workshops near where you are! First two workshop of 2015 are:
Lisbon - The Art of Comedy - 23rd, 24th and 25th January 2015
Berlin - Screen Acting - 20th,21st and 22nd February 2015

 

Like our FB page to find out what we are doing next