Theatre Centre – Staging in schools: CPD masterclass – workshop review

 (Credit: Marigold Hughes for Theatre Centre)

(Credit: Marigold Hughes for Theatre Centre)

Star rating
***

An interesting session considering engagement with space. 

I attended a masterclass at Greenwich Theatre run by Theatre Centre, who are currently touring Roy Williams’ Advice For The Young At Heart.

The session, looking at staging performances in schools, was led by the company’s artistic director Natalie Wilson. For this workshop, in particular, it was really interesting to have Wilson leading. As the artistic director she has to think constantly about the bigger picture – which is exactly what the session was trying to broach: how does a play work on all levels? You may have the words of a fantastic playwright to work with, but if the way in which you’re staging a performance  doesn’t reach out and connect with your audience, it can become a lost cause.

This masterclass isn’t directly linked to the content of Advice For The Young At Heart, which attendees get to watch post workshop. I think the idea behind this is to allow participants see the work of the last two hours put into practice by the company – however, that evening’s show took place in a professional theatre, not the school halls and canteens in which teachers find themselves putting on performances, and which often play host to Theatre Centre productions.

The content covered was quite basic: we looked at forms of staging –  in-the-round, traverse and end on. Several participants in my group were trying to push the boundaries of our given ‘end on’ setting to stage our piece with a more creative use of space. But it was good to bring it to a simple form: considering how your use of space can engage students is important.

(Credit: Marigold Hughes for Theatre Centre)

(Credit: Marigold Hughes for Theatre Centre)

The exercises that formed the masterclass worked well in demonstrating the diversity in performance created when using the stage space differently. However, I personally think a slightly more lengthy, slightly less practical session from Wilson would have benefited participants more. She had produced and presented a graph model explaining the influences between narrative, performer, audience and staging, and how they affect one another. It was really interesting,  and well explained by Wilson, but I would have found it more effective perhaps to have a case study of one of Theatre Centre’s own shows during the session to demonstrate how they consider alternative spaces and audiences when they tour.

To find out more about Theatre Centre’s CPD sessions and touring performances, visit www.theatre-centre.co.uk.

Scenes from an Execution – Review

Scenes from an Execution – Rose Bruford College Spring Season

This production of Howard Barker’s play, Scenes from an Execution, is the first in Rose Bruford’s spring season at London’s Unicorn Theatre. The season showcases the talents of their third year students, on- and off-stage, and gives the students valuable experience performing in, or working on, a production in a central London theatre. The production certainly stands up in the professional sphere, offering a captivating portrayal of Barker’s play with some promising talent on show.

The play focuses on the brilliant and defiant genius of the female Venetian painter Galactia (played by Laura Kirman). Commissioned by the state to paint a 100-foot-long canvas of the Battle of Lepanto, she is determined to pain the truth and horror of war, rather than the majestic and virtuous message the state hope the work will evoke. Supported by a well-rounded cast, the stand out performance was from Kirman, whose commanding stage presence created a powerful and compelling portrayal of this powerful yet vulnerable artist.

The college’s next production of the season will be Days of Significance by Roy Williams. The play, which deals with the harsh realities of war and the impact it has on the lives of young modern men, will run at the Unicorn Theatre from 12-14 March 2012.

For more information about Rose Bruford College and the spring season, go to www.bruford.ac.uk