The slow times continue, as local theatre creeps into the new year and I continue to wallow in grim lethargy. Twitter continues to annoy me even as I awkwardly try and get it to be of any goddamned use. Add to that a recent crush of mine blowing up rather painfully in my face (note to self: stop nursing crushes, that’s not what you’re supposed to DO with them), and yours truly was in need of a good pick-me-up. Which leads me to type words I never could have seen coming…thank God for school.
Yes, yesterday was day one of my continued foray into pretending to be actorlike, courtesy of the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama. Having completed their level one ten-week course back in November, it was time for the winter semester and level 2 to begin at long last. Keeping up my trend from last time, I got there way too early (but not early enough to go for a coffee). Happily, my coach from level one, Boss Barry Karp, was there to engage in some friendly palaver. He’s moving on to coach level three this semester, and from the collection of padded floormats he was in the process of collecting, I could see they were in for a rather epic workout, bless him (side note: Anyone know who’s teaching level one this semester? Just curious.)
Soon enough, some of my old classmates started making their way in as our time drew near to begin again. All told, with a couple of absentees for opening day, my old mates Catherine, Stefan, Vanessa and Justin were back, with newcomers Andrea, Sasha, Daria and Julie thrown into the mix. The boys now woefully outnumbered, we settled in and met our new instructor, gentleman Brie Barker. The head of local Sanitas Playback Theatre, and looking like he just stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting, he was an immediately likable cat, joking and easing us all into the new semester.
After making intros, we got into a little walking character piece, where we had to pick a profession, and slowly move about, amplifying the physical characteristics of engaging in said occupation for forty years. I ended up being a very claw-fisted and jumpy old bartender. We moved right into a game of Park Bench, where at first we just took turns walking up to and sitting on our pretend bench, then walking away. We repeated the game, adding a physical component…I pulled a classic limp out of my bag of tricks, and the coach seemed to dig that, doing a few riffs on it himself to show how much little tweaks could change the projection of a character.
After that we added a little dialogue to the evening, starting with the just-challenging enough ‘It’s a Beautiful Day’. It was fairly cool…we went in a circle, each doing the line with some different physical characteristic, and seeing if everyone else ‘got’ what we were going for, or at least what impressions they DID get out of it. My predicatbly sullen reading seemed to work decently enough.
Back to the park bench, with the line ‘Hey how’s it going’ this time, and instructions to let as loose as we wished with the physicality this time. And how often do you get permission like that in this life? I quickly reverted to my base ‘gorilla-mode’ and shouted the line as loud as I could. It made people laugh, and that was a nice thing.
We went walkabout again then, Brie shouting out different scenarios for us to embody as we walked…is it sad that when he yelled ‘I’ve been lonely my whole life’, I just reverted to my normal walk? Yeah, okay, maybe a little bit. Sorry internet, didn’t mean to bring ya down! I’ll try harder.
Anyhoo, we finished back in our seated circle, embodying a few more scenarios that the Big Cheese walked us through…and yes, I’m calling Brie ‘the Big Cheese’. Unoriginal, I know, but for God’s sake, the man is named after a delicious soft cheese! Some things are bigger than me, folks, so the Big Cheese it is.
When the excercize was over we stayed put and had a nice little palaver about acting, physicality, character, and how sucky Keanu Reeves is (sorry Daria). All told it was a good darn class, and I’m pretty relieved to have it back in my wee life. Invited my fellow classmates out to the upcoming dress rehearsal for STRAWBERRIES IN JANUARY at the GCTC this Sunday afterwards, and got a couple of takers. So there’s that coming up, as well as a pretty jam-packed first half of February. Hope to see some of you fiends out and about at the theatre, especially UNDERCURRENTS, coming up and selling out fast! Peace, love and soul, and see you next class,
The Visitor (and Winston)