The theme for the 2020 Leatss Summer School is an exploration of what it means to be in a particular place at a particular time. Something happens at that time and it transforms us. Sometimes we try to use this in order to effect change, sometimes we allow ourselves to become absorbed in the moment. Drama reflects the human need when faced with choices, and when a moment of choice comes, we need to be able to recognise it and ride it.
Time is an essential part of music and keeping time is crucial. Whilst common patterns are more easily recognised (e.g. the three-time pattern of the Waltz), we might not be so familiar with five-time (Brubeck’s Take Five).
At Summer School this year, the Theme courses will be looking at various aspects of particular time and students will hopefully have a rewarding, interesting and joyful time exploring them.
MUSICAL THEATRE SINGING/ACTING THROUGH SONG
GRAEME DU FRESNE: IT’S SOME TIMES ABOUT SONGS
(Exploring what time signatures do to – and with – a song)
“Music deals with time and timing. It’s so magical, but every little sound and every little space is critical.” David Lynch
This course will look at timing in songs in various ways.
Most western style songs (Folk, Pop, Jazz, Musical Theatre and Opera) are constructed around what are known as time signatures. For example a waltz has a time signature of 3. We’ll concentrate our exploration of time signatures on some examples of 2,3,4,6 and the less usual one of 5. There’s a Dorset folk song for example in 5 time. It’s called ‘The Rambling Comber’.
From the world of Musical Theatre we’ll look at ‘Racing With The Clock’ from the Pyjama Game which is effectively a song about Time & Motion study. There’s ‘Tonight At Eight’ from She Loves Me, a song about a person struggling with anxiety from the moment they wake up about a first date planned for later that evening. We will also work on ‘Merrily We Roll Along’, a musical where the narrative begins at the end of the story and finishes at the beginning. The two handed musical about Cathy and Jamie’s relationship (‘The Last Five Years’) begins with Cathy’s story at the end of her marriage whereas Jamie’s begins at the start of the relationship.
We will work as an ensemble but invite the possibility for some solo work as well. My working methods will include some detailed acting through song techniques.
FREDDIE MACHIN: LADY MALCOLM’S BALL
(Exploring context in rehearsal)
“I still can’t believe that you came to the Vampires’ Masquerade Ball dressed as a vampire.” Jim Butcher
The interwar years in Britain were a time of huge social change. The Great War had radically shifted how people saw themselves in society, and women’s suffrage, and the so-called ‘servants problem’, were examples of how people were rebelling against society’s expectation of them. It wouldn’t be long before even the King of England would abdicate, rejecting the role he was given by society.
During these influential years, Lady Jeanne-Marie Malcolm threw one of the most successful servants’ balls in history. Once a year, she would fill the Albert Hall with the costumed servants' class – unintentionally creating a focal point for the cross-dressing community in London, and attracting anyone and everyone who wanted to throw off the straightjacket of society.
This course will explore Freddie’s most recently commissioned play, due to be produced in 2020. Based on his research for the play, we will explore the specific moment in time, in which the balls happened, and investigate how this context can be used to influence character and behaviour whilst rehearsing scenes from his latest play for a large cast.
The play features a number of extraordinary real-life women including Monica Dickens, Mary Malcolm, and the infamous Forty Elephants gang, all of whom defied their context in different ways.
JANICE DUNN: TIME OF OUR LIVES
(Techniques for creating stimulating and creative theatre)
“Anyone can do theatre, even actors. And theatre can be done anywhere, even in a theatre.” Augusto Boal
This course uses Forum Theatre as its starting point. Also known as The Theatre of the Oppressed, it is based on the work of Augusto Boal, a pioneering Brazilian theatre practitioner. Boal’s methods, initially political, have been developed and used world-wide to create new work, to offer workshop/collaboration opportunities, to deliver creative development options and to give a voice to those who for whatever reason have little power or influence.
For example, the exercise ‘hot seating’ – for those who know it – comes from Boal’s work. His plays and exercises offer endless opportunities for exploration, play and creative development. In our course, we will use Forum with both text and devising.
We will also extend this work by exploring elements of Role Play, and how it can be used as an aide to developing characters, plays and projects – as well as actually creating them. Role play is fun, and when managed properly, is easy, stimulating and useful for creativity. (Just to be clear, it is not Cosplay, but theatrical role play.)
People who participate in this course will also, in teams, take a creative lead in delivering the Practical Project (formerly Project 3). This is our short, student-led offer of three sessions in which the entire Summer School participates. It is fully tutor supported. Participants in this course may also have roles in the collaborative work we do as a whole school on the final Saturday.
There will be no pressure during this course to ‘lead’ or ‘direct’ for those participants who do not wish to do so. It is an explorative course for people who want to try a new form, have fun with improvisation and role play, explore group dynamics, or find exciting creative options for their own theatre work. It will be fun, intriguing and, dare I say it, stimulating. The work will be focussed, but will also happen at the pace of, and according to the needs of the group each day.
There will be full-group, and smaller group work. It will be non-academic, practical and entertaining. You need no experience whatsoever, of any type of theatre, to do this course.
All the work we do will be based on our own/other people’s true-life stories and experiences.
KATE COLGRAVE-POPE: SOLO STORIES – A MOMENT IN TIME
(Exploring how to craft skilled theatrical stories)
“Theatre is the occasion we confirm our shared humanity” Mike Alfred (Shared Experience)
Take a stage, one person and a moment in time.
We all have at least one story within us.
Together we will explore how to craft a skilled and theatrical story based on your own personal experiences.
Choosing a moment in your life, the effect of which made you aware that you and your view of life changed as a result. (Please be aware there is no need to share anything that you don't want to, however an openness of heart, imagination and bravery will guide you along the way).
Over the week we will be investigating skills in developing narrative, building tension and enabling character transformation. We will be using the fundamentals of Stanislavsky techniques to help assemble your narratives, Lee Strasberg’s ‘sense memory’ workshops to set your scenes and create imagery and colour. Finally, we will experiment with theatrical story telling techniques and theatre forms to bring to life all the richness and uniqueness of your 'moment in time'.