Luxembourg European Annual Theatre Summer School

2014 Skills Projects

Theatre demands different muscles and different aspects of one's personality.

Victor Garber (actor)


Graeme du Fresne ( Singing) Site Singing
We shall be singing on location around the buildings and grounds of Clairefontaine. Outside, we'll be around the fountain, along by the stream, in the gardens and woods, whilst inside, we'll explore some of the spaces that offer interesting acoustics such as stairwells. We could also use the chapel to give us some lovely possibilities for liturgical material. The music room itself will be used for a more conventional setting. We'll 'knit' all this together with some travelling music we can sing en route to each location (never a moment wasted!). I'll be introducing some new singing techniques this year which I have been developing as a result of the experience I had attending a teacher's training summer school in 2013, a couple of weeks after ours finished (now I know what it feels like to be a participant!).

Janice Dunn (Directing): Getting Intimate With Acting
This directing course will examine the area of "intimacy", and how to help your actors achieve it. Whether we require physical or emotional intimacy and revelation it can be a tricky course for a director to steer. How to offer support and help to your actors so they can release the potential of performer and play is at the crux of this course. We will look at audition techniques suitable for a variety of requirements, and how they can be best utilised. We will develop skills for creating a "safe space", and how to maintain it. We will examine how best to use improvisation and exercises so that they can actually be useful when back on text, and not a waste of rehearsal time. We will practically experience the tools for positive character development. We will explore techniques for "release", and look at how to help actors achieve intimate work, that can work for both cast and production. We will do this by using examples of texts with "difficult" moments / themes. (Participants may also have text suggestions to offer.).

Peta Lily : Clown and Dark Clown – Should I Really be Laughing at This?
What is Dark Clown? A chance to play with a darker kind of humour….an experiment with the edges of laughter…..a way to make a more exciting rapport with audiences. I have been developing a fairly unique body of Dark Clown work since the 1980's. People report the work liberating, cathartic and useful. The Clown Doctors of Europe say the work gives them more scope to create rapport and laughter with people. Actors say it gives them a wider understanding of what it is to be human.

While the Red Nose Clown performs out of sheer exuberance, Dark Clown performs under a harsher compulsion. The Red Nose Clown has no past and a cartoon-like ability to bounce back from pratfalls, slaps and accidents. The Dark Clown has seen it all, feels it all and has no choice but to 'sell' his own pain for our entertainment. One experiences wonder, the other gazes at the abyss. The audience laughs, but while asking themselves: 'Should I really be laughing at this?'

Dark Clown work:

  • develops emotional range and liberates energy for the performer
  • takes regular clown and comedy skills to a new level
  • provides a way to implicate as well as entertain audiences
  • provides a way to deal with the dark absurdities of the world, when drama and sentiment may fall short of touching us

The course starts with an introduction (or review) of joyful Red Nose Clown work. We look at the principles of audience engagement and learn handy techniques for creating, building and managing laughter which then get applied to the Dark Clown work, which is approached step by step, through a series of exercises.

Philippa Strandberg-Long (Acting) The Reality of Doing
Created by the late Sanford Meisner, a theatre practitioner and actor, the Meisner technique is widely recognised, especially in the United States, as being one of the most important techniques for an actor to master. Having in recent years had more and more exposure in Europe, the demand and interest in the process has never been higher.

The technique hones in on Stanislavsky's concept of COMMUNICATION, and highlights the importance of listening and reacting to the other actors. Through a series of exercises, carefully selected to follow on one from another, they train the actor's observation and communication skills, ultimately teaching us how to read the behaviour of others.

One of Meisner's most recognised exercises is The Repetition, where emotional and physical changes in the other actor are observed and repeated between the actors, in turn creating new behaviour and stronger listening and reacting.

Repetition is followed by The Activity exercise where the actors are encouraged to pursue an activity with a strong imaginary reason, while at the same time having to interact with another actor, thereby creating real emotions out of imaginary circumstances.

The training is incredibly beneficial to actors and not only helps them stay in the moment and communicate truthfully, but also curbs self-consciousness on stage.