Saturday, 12th April '03
In the Black Box
Writer's Note: A week of so from this entry I realized that we weren't even in the Black Box at all. Ha, see, En Ying has no sense of direction. We were in the Rehearsal Room. I think. *crosses fingers*
Ok, here I am, dutifully working on my Theatre 4 Youth Ensemble homework. I'm writing a journal on what I did today. Will probably edit a bit more later, but let's just say this is "uncut" version.
We started out today in the black box. Honestly, it's not black and it's not a box, so I haven't the foggiest why the TNS (The Necessary Stage) folks call it that. It's a pure rectangle shaped room, with a couple of tables, black cloth screen (with lots of junk hidden behind it), a couple of chairs and lots of nice parquet space. It's rather like a dance studio sans mirrors and barre. And it's BLUE. So...
A bit of administrative work put aside, we set to work on improvisational exercises. Gosh, I thought the stuff they made us do for the audtions was hard, but today's work was worse. Apparently it's just going to get worse. Oh well. =) And it went on for almost three hours. Bert thinks these are like orientation games, but for some reason when they go on for quite a long time and your brain has to work furiously throughout, you do get drained. And focusing so much at one go (I have never done this for so long before... maximum in the past about 10 minutes) made my brain feel distinctly fried.
The first exercise was a name game, where a player (A) starts by walking towards another player (B). B must then look at yet another player (C) and C will call B's name and B walks to C and A takes B's place. Sounds simple till you try it, upon which it is terrible. Eye contact gets mixed up and when speed increases, it's havoc. We did a lot of exercises like that, one involving pairs that clap together just by establishing eye contact and one where the group must collectively count to 20, one person at a time, at random, just by sensing the mood. Hah, we got up to forty even with our eyes shut. Serena was surprised. =)
Best activity had to be silent whacko. It's like blind man's buff in a restricted area, the blindfolded fella carrying the whacko stick and one person running. No clues from people around, nothing. I liked this one, probably because it combined the physical and mental, and possibly because I caught my target pretty fast. =) Strategy: I used the draft from the aircon to determine my position in the room so that I wouldn't get completely dizzy. From observation, the escapee tends to stay on the opposite side of the circle to the whacker, so all I did was saunter to one end and then lunge back right across. It worked. I wasn't too good at escaping though, and I tried to stay behind my whacker the whole time. I think she felt me breathing down her neck when I got a bit too close, and then it was Game Over. Other interesting notes about people: Weiling kepts close to the ground, so the one chasing her usually just swiped over her head. This works well until you get trapped. A more extreme form of this was shown by Errol, who just lay down and went to sleep. Same problem, not mobile enough, eventually got cornered. Ava nearly whacked him to bits (revenge for him coshing her on the back of her neck). Suffian had a good idea of passing the stick behind his back too. It would have had me killed right out.
Worst game: Yes Let's. Someone shouts something like "Let's sell fish!", everyone shouts back "Yes, let's!" and then proceed to act out selling-fish scenes. I hate this game, possibly because it went on so long, and probably because miming scenes on the spot is terrible to do. Themes like "let's go the zoo!" are frightfully ambiguous to perform. I can never decide if I'm supposed to be an animal or a kid or an adult or a trainer and how the heck I'm going to depict that all by myself. I hate being reduced to pointing at a cage and going "hey... monkey...". It's just *urgh*. Things like "let's go swimming" or "let's do kungfu" are a little more bearable, but there's only so much time that a group of 12 can splash around in the air doing freestyle and breast stroke / doing Bruce Lee imitations without looking like total cornballs. I like themes like "let's watch a scary movie", where it's relevent and I have experience with it (unlike "let's go to war" where bad jokes like "Argh! It's Saddam!" surface because no one really has much of an idea what else to do). I will need to work on thinking faster (when new characters pop into my scene), getting less embarrassed ("let's all be supermodels") and breaking away from stereotypes ("let's be policemen" - I could only think of Triple Nine type bursting-into-criminal-hideouts-guns-clasped-close-to-the-face type scenarios).
What I think I have discovered I'm relatively good at are attention to details and sensing. I think after a bit of warming up I could pick up the mood, tone and speed of the group quite quickly and after a while I stopped clashing with the rest at number counting. Details have really not been a problem today, even in the "follow the leader" game, where someone does a repeat action and everyone else follows EXACTLY. I think there was good training from a certain CC activity that no one else in the ensemble had been through.
This group I'm working with seems to be a great group! I got a sense of a little less professionalism than I did during the audition, but at that point everyone was trying to make a good impression, and because there were almost three times the number of people, it was much easier to lose focus or just take longer to recover from mistakes. Still they're all wonderfully nice, even if we hardly know each another yet. And we really _are_ diverse. There are folks like Jo and Rebecca who are my age or older and studying to make a living in the arts (arts administration and film and media studies *I think* respectively). Then there are your basic JC drama people like Weiling and Ava, younger folks like Geraldine, Huipeng and Errol, focused, serious people like Siti, funky people like Fit (who breakdances, raps, agressive skates), onz people like Sufian, chio-girl types like Krystal... in essence I have a lot of new friends to make and to learn from!
All of which, is very cool by me.
[well, the pictures aren't going to take themselves!]