Today, Millman Street Community Centre members experienced another RADA Elders Taster Workshop. It was hosted by voice and acting teacher Caroline, along with participant Jenni, who has been with the RADA Elders for four years.
Members Rosa, Anne, Helena, Tony, Joyce, Fred, Canute, Norman, Joan, Tessa, Janice and Christine were joined by staff and volunteers Sarah and Joss.
The session comprised of voice training, warm-up games and also text work.
Caroline first had everyone sitting in a circle, then standing up for a round of Pass The Clap, where members had to clap in synchronised fashion with the next person in the circle. “The secret is in the breathing,” Caroline explained. “It helps you connect with your fellow actor.”
The next level was to go round the circle again, but this time to choose whether to go clockwise or anti-clockwise. This sired much laughter, and members loosened up as the game progressed. Caroline explained that it was a trust exercise, designed to build rapport with fellow actors and get used to the range of their reactions – essential for stagecraft.
“You act better when you’re relaxed,” Caroline said. “Acting is quite physical,” she added. “Your body and mind are working together, ideally. So try to keep the feeling with your eyes and breathing.”
Then came the Voice Warm-Up exercises. Members were shown how sitting up straight and slouching affected their voices, and she explained it was best to have “your spine long and the neck to be long,” before initiating a series of “aaahs”, as part of a pitch slide. She said, “Voices are much better when we have a long back of neck and soft front of neck.
This progressed into a series of long F sounds, to relax the stomach muscles (“Deep belly breathing”) and to “feel the emotional difference when you breathe.”
“It seems harder,” said Canute. “Like bellows,” added Fred.
Then Caroline moved on to V sounds, with all doing a low hum. “Try to make your lips buzz with your hum,” they were instructed. Then, open up with a “Maaah” – an elongated sound. She said to “use a destination for your aaah : a door handle, light switch,” etc. Then play with different pitches: “Disturb a flower, make a floor mat feel welcome,” and so on. “We always have an intention when we speak.” All did so simultaneously; cue more amusement at the resulting cacophony. “It’s one thing making a lovely sound,” Caroline said, “Another to fill it with meaning.”
Then there were a series of face stretches, and a couple of tongue twisters from Joyce and Norman. Finally, the session moved on to the Text. Caroline passed lines from Richard II around and first everyone read aloud to themselves, simultaneously. There followed a discussion on what emotions each line produced.
Then round the circle, with everyone reading a couplet, and then reinterpreting what it means in their own words, as the Bard’s 17th Century parlance isn’t always immediately comprehensible to modern ears.
Former manager Sue turned up to see all the members and have a chin-wag. Nothing to do with RADA, but it happened at the same time, so here’s a pic:
Everyone enjoyed the workshop, Canute very enthusiastically. Norman – another seasoned performer – had not come across some of the techniques Caroline taught and hopes to share them with the Mary Ward Centre Players for future productions.
“It’s nice to get back to working in a group,” said Jenni.
Before we get to the slideshow, let’s hear from Volunteer Joss. She said of the workshop that she would “definitely” do it again. “Today was a real high,” she enthused. “It was great to get stuck in!”
The idea for staging the workshops at Millman Street came from Carys, the Widening Participation & Outreach Coordinator at RADA. She can be reached at:
Holborn Community Association would once again like to thank RADA for providing Millman Street Community Centre members with this wonderful workshop.
Frightful photos and rotten report by Notes Smudger