Wax on, Wax off!
Today was my first week at Emerging Perspectives. I always worry about being totally out of my depth when I go into new drama circles. I’m not hot on the latest practitioners, I haven’t read the complete works of Shakespeare, I don’t always ‘get’ Berkoff pieces! “Where will I fit in, will they all be better than me?” I didn’t know what to expect, apart from knowing we would be examining text and I had brought two of my own along to share. When I arrived, almost everyone was sat around the big table, nattering over tea and biscuits. I was particularly chuffed at the presence of Chocolate HobNobs, king of biscuits. I didn’t feel at all nervous to join in with the conversation about Bad News Cakes and whether boys can dress up as The Little Mermaid. I realised pretty quickly I must have missed the first session, as the group was already tight… but everyone was friendly and welcoming to me, there was no Newbie Initiation Trauma.
Theresa dished out scripts and put us in groups. I wasn’t acting today, she asked me to view the text from a stage manager’s perspective and have a go at directing if I wanted to. Of course I wanted to, but I wasn’t sure how it would be received by my peers. I certainly don’t consider myself a seasoned professional. However Mia and Matt were extremely open to my ideas and we worked as a team to dissect the text. Confusing at first, it was deliciously layered with repeated imagery and deeply-woven themes. The cringe-worthy twist at the end caught us all by surprise. It was a language-rich text, particularly Yiddish language. We joked that we could have done with a dictionary next to us! Or a Rabbi. But with everyone’s opinions thrown into the melting pot, we began to get into the text and I even sketched a few ideas on how to solve the problem of the characters travelling in a lift, if it were to be staged in a Village Hall.
Theresa divided her time between the two groups, posing thought-provoking questions rather than spoon-feeding us answers. She praised our working practices, gave us advice on next steps and her positive and nurturing attitude made me feel super-talented and worthy of my place. Theresa is the Mr Miyagi to my Karate Kid. She complimented our approach to the text and said I was naturally doing lots of things I should have been doing, pointing out things which I had stopped noticing. (For the record, she didn’t get me to polish her car.) It was very affirming and I didn’t feel like the bad student who hadn’t studied enough Berkoff to deserve a place in a theatre company.
I got to share the script and poem I’d brought along and listen to what has inspired the rest of the group. Everyone was able to plug projects they were involved in and promote opportunities for others at the same time. Even though it is week one for me, I already feel like an important member of a tight-knit group. Of Theatre-Kung-Fu Apprentices. Lead by Theresa-San.
Mr. Miyagi: “No such thing as bad student, only bad teacher. Teacher say, student do.”
Charlotte Bond, Performer, Emerging Perspectives Company