The Alexandra Players in attendance | RSC Skills Exchange Weekend at Questors | September 2014

Rose Bayley and Jessica Pentney participating in the Voice workshop | Photo courtesy of James Farrell, Questors and The RSC

Rose Bayley and Jessica Pentney participating in the Voice workshop | Photo courtesy of James Farrell, Questors and The RSC

Earlier this month, in the resplendent surroundings of Questors in West London, several members of The Alexandra Players had the opportunity to attend four expertly run workshops, provided by the RSC in association with Questors.

Collaboratively, skilled mentors and tutors including trained professionals from RADA used their skills to mentor and develop 19 amateur theatre groups in London and the South East that were selected to take part in the RSC Open Stages event for 2013-2016.

The workshops were designed to support and train the participating groups in honing their skills, learning new techniques and to develop a greater understanding of working with and performing Shakespeare.

Workshops included…

VOICE AND TEXT – breaking down Shakespearean text, tearing phrases and sentences apart to gain an understanding of the difficult language and exercises looking at thought processes whilst on stage.

MOVEMENT – looking at interesting and enjoyable ways of loosening various parts of one’s anatomy prior to a rehearsal or performance.

ACTING – a workshop given by a tutor and lecturer from RADA which provided a fascinating insight into developing characters, analysing dialogue, plot, situation and backstories.

STAGE COMBAT – an energetic, physical workshop designed to mentor actors in the actions needed to deliver the most realistic performances of conflict. Methods included the slap, punch, hair-pull, ear-tug, strangulation, and eye-gouge – all done without anyone getting injured!

At the end of the Skills Weekend, Ian Wainwright (Chief architect of the RSC Open Stages programme) concluded that the difference between the Professionals and the Amateurs is not a great a chasm as some would believe.

Those that attended the weekend from The Alexandra Players hope to share their new found knowledge with other members of the group who were unable to participate due to prior commitments. So be assured, The Alexandra Players may be an amateur group but we have always taken the utmost pride and enthusiasm to deliver the most professional standards in each of our performances and having received this valuable level of development, things can only get better.

Here is some feedback from participants…

“The facilities at Questors are superb. The VOICE AND TEXT workshop gave an fascinating perspective of how to break down Shakespearean text as was the workshop into ways of developing your character. The ACTING and STAGE COMBAT workshops were a great insight into the professional actors training. I hope that we can pass on our new found knowledge to the rest of the group as it can only serve to improve our overall acting skills”.
– Keith Hartley

“Questors was amazing! We learned so much, physically and mentally. I got some really good tips on how someone like myself who is dyslexic can learn and read lines easier from a Shakespearean actor who is himself dyslexic. It was tough but so worth it, I learned so much in one weekend I will definitely be a better actress for it. I loved Stage Combat and we had so much fun pretending to slap, punch, strangle and gouge each others eyes out. I would so do this weekend again”.
– Rose Bayley

“After what seemed like an eternity (but was, in fact, only nearly a year) of attending RSC workshops, being inspired and enabled and then returning to my fellow actors/directors to try to pass on these valuable nuggets of information, I finally had the chance to share with other Alexandra Players at first-hand, the delights of the Skills Exchange. It was a wonderful experience for me to re-visit some of the training I received on my first Directors’ Weekend at Stratford-Upon-Avon (invaluable acting tips from Annie Tyson and a few gratuitous slaps and dodgy innuendos from Michael Corbridge.) In addition to that, I experienced the delights of ‘pelvic graffiti’ in the marvellously uninhibited Gary’s workshop on movement and got the chance to volunteer to attempt a stage strangle-to-the-death on the lovely Tom, the stage combat tutor. However, the highlight of the weekend, for me, had to be watching the dawn of understanding creeping across the starry-eyed faces of my fellow players. At last, I thought, they get it!”
– Jackie Hartley

Due to the amount of interest we have received for this production, we shall be performing WE HAPPY FEW over 4 evenings this autumn – Wednesday 29th, Thursday 30th, Friday 31st October and Saturday 1st November. Performances will start at 7:45pm and doors will open at 7:15pm.

*Please be advised that this play does contain scenes that may distress those of a younger age, therefore we would appreciate it if you would not bring small children to this performance.

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