Step Up Summer School – FEEDBACK

New Perspectives first Step Up Summer School ended with two performances of a showcase of their work,  Arrivals / Departures, on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th July.  We’ve asked the seven participants, Laura Free, Nic Harvey, Monika Johnson, Laura MacRae, Leoni Osborn, Beth Shouler and Chloe Ward, to BLOG their experience below.

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4 thoughts on “Step Up Summer School – FEEDBACK

  1. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the Summer School experience. I was eager to meet other young people involved in various areas of theatre and was excited to be part of creating a new piece. Before the process started, I had a few concerns about the potential difficulties we might face using monologues as a starting point, both from a directorial point of view, as well as a design one. Being primarily from a design background, I was pleased to have the opportunity to be present in rehearsals and to see the performance as it was being created. It soon became apparent that there were, in fact, many performance possibilities for the monologues, but I began to feel a little overwhelmed by the task of trying to link them all through a single design scheme.
    There were times when, as designer, my role felt quite separate from the rest of the group. The relationship between director and actors is easily understood, but there were times where my own relationship to the group felt less clear. I also felt that I was having to discover for myself a new way of arriving at a design, as my usual way of working was simply not possible given that we only had two weeks. I very much appreciated, therefore, the attitudes of both Mandy and Daniel, as they made it very easy for me to approach them when I did have issues I needed to talk through with someone.
    Throughout the process I learned an enormous amount about myself; about different design processes; about the practicalities of designing for something within a short time- frame; and about designing for touring theatre. I was also keen to be as hands-on as possible throughout the touring process, and widen my practical knowledge. Being involved in the get-in and get-out for both the performances, and learning about setting up lights ensures that I will maintain a practical and realistic approach to design in the future.
    New Perspectives have given me the opportunity to learn how to adapt my design process to a real theatre situation, and to meet other young people in the area I would love to work with again. Having a design realised is a wonderful experience and I am certainly proud of what we all achieved in two weeks.

  2. When I arrived on the first day of the two week placement I also didn’t know what to expect-I knew it would be intense but had no real idea that I’d be learning a nearly ten minute monologue in less than two weeks! I now know I can do it again should I need to. I have never had to work so intensively on a piece of theatre but can honestly say I loved every moment of it. I work as a drama teacher and just the two weeks playing ‘keepy upy’ and picking up other rehearsal games/exercises have given me inspiration and new ways of working in a drama workshop environment.
    On a more creative level I feel I developed in two ways-one as a performer and secondly as a writer-and came to realise just how much I don’t want to stop either.
    I originally joined the step up group to work as an actor and enjoyed getting stuck into an interesting script and character and trying to understand her role and place within the bigger picture. At times I felt a little ‘distant’ from other characters as my character didn’t ‘blend in’/link with themes in the same way the others did. However, this meant I had two long chunks to focus on and I could keep my journey solid in my mind. That helped me and challenged me too!
    I was so nervous about learning the lines and tried to do that as soon as I got my script. I feel I work best like this and this also meant I could dig a bit deeper with my character and find out new things about her as the performance got nearer. I was aware that the role was probably written for someone older than myself and that was a challenge for me-I am used to playing characters my own age or younger and I actually enjoyed the dialogue of an older woman looking back on her childhood/father and her passions. I liked that the pieces were not just 2 dimensional views of women-ie. babies and motherhood-but actually ran deeper than that and we discovered there was more to these women then we first thought. I really liked getting to find out about what makes these characters ‘tick’.
    As an actor I also found that I also discovered new ways of delivering lines and really valued Daniel’s advice on using tone/pace/and searching in my delivery-things I guess I can take for granted sometimes because I am so preoccupied with making sure I know the lines! I really think it’s great to have someone to sit and watch you and say ‘try it this way’ or ‘why would she do that?’-it makes you appreciate that everyone is different and not all characters can be played or delivered in the same way.
    I feel that by the end I was getting to know the character a lot better and valued having an audience as it brought out new moments and ways of delivery once again.
    As a writer I felt more exposed! I was dreading hearing my piece being read out and getting ‘feedback’ but I wanted the group to be honest to help me and they were. I spent my first night re writing my monologue. I felt better about it and am grateful to the others/Daniel and Mandy for giving honest feedback on how I could adapt the piece for the better.
    Overall, I can honestly say I have loved the summer school experience and it has only made me realise even more just how much creating theatre means to me. I know I need further devlopment but am committed and keen to do that-if there are the opportunities-that is why the step up programmes are so great. I felt that at 26 I would not be able to get a chance to work with professionals and get a new glimpse of ‘theatrica life’ but I did and just hope it’s not too late!!I know 26 isn’t old but I have noticed that there seems to be a cut off age for opportunites in the creative industries-it’s a shame because it can mean people give up trying.
    I do hope to continue with writing and really love performing and hope I can develop in this field. I guess I just have to see what happens next but..the two weeks of step up has made me see just how much you have to put in-and I am willing to because it is definitely worth it!

  3. I have really enjoyed the two week summer school and feel I have greatly benefited from it. My expectations were of an intense busy two weeks of rehearsals. When I was sent the scripts/monologues, I actually thought these were just for ideas of themes and characters. I envisioned the project was going to be one of group collaboration, creating an entirely new play through using the monologues as the stimuli. I think I may have thought this because this is what would normally happen on my degree course. We hardly ever use a text as it comes from the writer, we often adapt into another form or the focus is more towards the applying a dramatic theory behind it etc.

    However, I realized on the second day, when we were cast our roles, that we were not devising a new play but performing the monologues in whole as the writer intended. This was both a relief (that we didn’t have the enormous task of creating a new play) but this was also slightly disappointing that we were not making a new play. Nevertheless, I quickly realized that this was a great opportunity for me as an actor, to really focus on one character and not have to be sharing my focus onto devising theatre. It was a great challenge and so adjusted my mind to the task of how to perform this character and her dramatic story. I was very pleased to be cast in ‘My boy’ as I was already feeling an affinity to her.

    It was very enjoyable to get a piece of text and perform it solely for its story; this also demanded a solid understanding of the character and their situation. This is the exact kind of acting that I have missed doing on my degree. The two weeks were exciting and stimulating; each day progressing individually and as an ensemble. The new perspectives team created a relaxed environment to learn and I always felt comfortable to try new ideas: the team always encouraged everyone’s involvement and development.

    I feel this project has been very valuable to my development as an aspiring actor. I was happy with my performance in the two shows and have gained confidence in my ability after completing the project and its advanced challenges. It has been good to work with different theatre makers and experiencing different ways of working. The professional environment was important in developing creative working relationships and supporting each other’s learning. It also required me to exercise a strong self-discipline to push myself each day, go home, do more work and hopefully progress the next day. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience! Thank you.

  4. It has been about 8 weeks since we began work at New perspectives summer school and I am finally recording my experiences! Looking back now I can really appreciate the unique creative environment we were working in and the success that we achieved. Not just in putting on what I feel was essentially a coherent and competent piece of theatre, but in the bonds that were formed between us all as we worked together. The first day I didn’t know what to expect and was really very nervous about meeting everyone. Luckily it seemed that everyone else was a bit scared too as we all sat around the table in New perspectives office, determindly not eating the lovely biscuits and cakes laid on for us and awkwardly enquiring about each other’s interests. However these nerves were soon dissipated with a quick game of keepy uppy and then some serious script analysis which really showed me the callibre of the people I would eb working with- everyone had interesting and intelligent things to say and I went away form the school that day feeling excited and hopeful for what we could create.
    As Chloe mentioned I ahd also thought that the monologues would eb more of a starting point from which to make a theatre piece, I envisioned using scraps of material from each piece to make a whole new play. But as the school progrssed we realised this was not what we would be doing, which although a little dissapointing at first, led to much more intense character work which I really enjoyed. I found my piece ‘Always in the Afternoon’ a brilliant challenge that i was genuinely affected by. I could never just relax and do it, the piece demanded a high level of emotional intensity that was at times draining, but it is probably the first time in my acting career that I have felt so moved by a piece of work.
    I think the strongest impression i willt ake away from the school was the power fo working in a dedicated and talented group of people. Everyone had the freedom and the motivation to be constantly adding suggestitions, motivations and modifications to the piece to hone it to a better and better performance. There were no over-riding egos, no real arguements, we were lucky in that we all got along well and I personally felt veyr supported by the group. Mandy and Daniel gave really great support, advise and ideas to the project. They carried us along for the first few days, making sure we’d settled into the work then let us go our own way a bit more, in order that we would have the freedom to be really creative, while always being near and willing if we needed help

    I feel that the summer school experiences will help me in my planned future career as aperformer. It si the first time I have worked for such an intense ammount of time as an ensemble and I found it to be an overwhelming positive one

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