Ken-Friends Bursary Winners Reports 2004
Lisbrun, Northern Ireland
I am delighted to inform you of my experience with the National Youth
Theatre London. I jetted off on Sunday 15th August with so many
pre-conceived expectations, but nothing could have prepared me for the
wealth of knowledge, skills and overall experience I gained.
I had the privilege of working with the very talented Theatre Director Guy
Hargreaves and Assistant Director Stephen Daly. Throughout the two weeks
Guy and Stephen focused on the importance of trusting your fellow
actors. We worked as quite a large ensemble of twenty-five, yet got to
know and work with each individual. The high level of co-operation,
dedication and talent within our ensemble was incredible. Training was
vigorous, starting at 9am and working to 6pm with each day a continuous
learning process where I gained a new insight into many different
disciplines and had the opportunity to work with a range of directors and
coaches on skills such as stage combat, vocal skills, back to basics acting
and how to become an animal or creature on stage.
The two weeks training concluded with a performance incorporating choral
singing, a fifties choreographed office sequence, and a 'circus of freaks'
show. We aimed to engage our audience in a number of ways and used warmth,
laughter, poignancy, empathy and shock to play with their emotions.
The National Youth Theatre developed my overall passion for performing with
and without an ensemble. I have gained greater confidence in improvisation
skills and acknowledge the importance of mental and physical discipline
needed within acting.
I am grateful for the financial support received, without it I could not
have attended this course in London and benefited from the buzzing city,
the fantastic performers I have worked with and the friends I have gained.
Lovable Rogues and the Best Pizza in Italy in the Piazza Santa Margarita
Mask wearing pantomiming court jesters took over Piazza Santa Margarita,
Venice on 30th August. A state sponsored rally? A clown convention? Yet
another carnival tourist trap? In fact the pandemonium in the square was
the final product of four weeks of mask making, improvising, acrobatics,
fencing, dancing and signing that are the crucial components of any
Commedia Dell'Arte performance. Venetians laughed and tourists stared as
the participants in this years VeneziainScena Commedia Dell'Arte
International Summer School, capered over a raised wooden platform.
Performing terrifying feats of bi-lingualism, daring acts of acrobacy, and
some really quite atrocious signing, the 22 performers, (in three separate
plays) dazzled Venice's bustling Main Square.
Commedia Dell'Arte is a European theatre style that relies as much on
physicality and slapstick as it does on the powerful set of lungs necessary
for being heard over the hustle and bustle of the street. Lovable rogues
and buxom servants with the odd star-crossed lover thrown in for good
measure, populate commedia stages. Regardless of the scrapes the
characters end up in or the mischief and mayhem they get up to, a commedia
play can be depended upon to culminate in a bit of a good, old-fashioned
song and dance.
An incredibly rich form of theatre, Commedia uses any and all performative
devices possible to impress and entertain. The long hours of rehearsals
(sometimes without even a siesta break!!!) and the challenging technique
classes could be tough. But who can complain when learning how to back flip
off a 5ft5" high stage, or learning to perform in languages you never
thought you knew. Actually..It's suddenly starting to sound all a bit
dangerous really. Well I came back pretty much in one piece, having picked
up nothing worse than assorted European languages and many, many, many
mosquito bite scars. A formidable frolic through the ages of European
theatre practice, the International Summer School is a worthwhile and fun
adventure for anyone interested in branching out from conventional
text-based Northern European theatre.