GCSE drama anyone?
Like most high school drama classes, I often start my sessions with a ‘walking round the room exercise ‘.
I tend to relate it to the standard GCSE practice and urge the group to bare with it, there will be a point. I look back at my own high school experiences and distinctly remember the feeling of pretension as we marched in circles round a black box studio feeling like ‘actors’ because we were walking round a lot ‘confidently ‘.
Like most things at high school, the exercise was lost on me.
So why do I insist on other poor souls doing it in my own sessions?
Well, there are several possible answers to that which could help you if ever your put in that awkward position. Firstly, acting is a sport, a physical pursuit, a game that demands muscularity and energy, none of which is aroused by standing still. So a turn around the room really helps to invite energy.
Secondly, its a great opportunity to wipe the slate as clean as possible from the days events. A way of preparing your mind and breathing for the work you are about to undertake.
But my favourite reason for the GCSE Stroll is perhaps not as obvious, not to the participants anyway. Whenever I ask a group to walk the space I immediately learn a shed load about them as professionals. More often than not, you instantly see the majority of faces go dead, a breath is taken in, as if steeling themselves, indicating that they will put up with this for as long as it takes to get onto the real work. And what i’m looking for is this: The ‘change of direction ‘. Most actors fall into a circular walking pattern straight away, like terminal tourists, but, every once in a while there is an individual who, without any prompting from me will completely change direction as and when appropriate to break the pattern they were building. A little firework goes off inside me as I locate ‘the professional’. You see, someone who is present enough in that simple game to recognise that falling into line behind 15 other actors, lazily circling the room is not the point, is someone who is ready to step out, make their own choices and ultimately offer! That is exciting. In a group audition, being that person can give you a tremendous edge on the rest of the group. We want people who don’t have to be pushed and shoved into making choices. We want individuals with the ability to make committed offers because they want to. In short, we want those who are willing and able to change direction.
To you, the artist.