Tigers in London Adventures with clemson theatre students abroad at Rose Bruford College
Alessandro McLaughlin - May 23, 2016
This week is our last week of class. I cannot believe that the semester is coming to an end. For this week, all I have left is papers. Not everything we do is performance! I'm writing an essay in response to my contemporary scenes project. We also have to do journals of our experience in the class as well as the semester. It's been a tough semester, but I have learned so much.
When I arrived in January, I didn't know what to expect. I was definitely nervous, but I was ready for the challenge. And boy was it hard! But I am thankful for every minute. I not only fine tuned my directing and acting skills, but I got to experience a different culture. I got to do things I never thought I would do. I've learned so much about myself, my process as an artist, and how to best execute my ideas and thoughts through theatre. I am forever grateful for the people I've met and the teachers who pushed me out of my comfort zone and let me soar. I will miss Rose Bruford and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Now to finish my papers and then on to a trip around Europe before heading back to the states!
Claire Richardson - May 23 2016
This week we concluded our contemporary scenes course, which was a major relief for me because the scenes I acted in were quite demanding with the line load. While the text was line heavy, it introduced me to a great new play called People, Places & Things. The play deals with addiction in a new light, and thankfully I got a ticket to go see it in the West End before I leave. In addition to rehearsing, I also spent time thinking and planning for my final essay that is going to explore how the different expressions of femininity in two plays we discussed this year comment on the potential sexism in capitalism. In this last week of classes we will be discussing the positives and negatives of the term, watch the first year’s final acting presentations, and conclude our London Theatre course by seeing Radiant Vermin by Philip Ridley at the Soho Theatre. Sadly, I am leaving for the States in only a week, so I will also be trying to go into London as much as I can so I can cross off a couple more museums and attractions on my touristy to-do list. I can’t believe that this semester is soon coming to a close!
Alessandro McLaughlin - May 1, 2016
So after Symposium, we had a little break. I went to Dublin with my roommates and it was an amazing time! We walked around the city and just had a really relaxing week. Now, I am back at school and working on the first of the Contemporary Scenes projects. I am working on a play by Lucy Prebble called The Effect. I am playing the role of Dr. Toby who is overseeing a drug trial for a new antidepressant. I have had to do a British accent, so that has been fun.
What is interesting about the play is that it deals with the over medicalization of our society. But it also deals with two of the patients falling in love during the trial. The play brings around the argument of whether their love is because of the drugs (which increase the chemical reaction in the brain that causes reactions like love) or if the feelings are real. My character gets into an ethical argument about the effects of these drugs with Dr. Lorna, who is running the trial. This was really interesting for me to think about. I had to set aside my own opinion and stand by Dr. Toby’s. It has been a very interesting role to play.
Claire Richardson - May 1, 2016
After spending our spring break week traveling Dublin and getting some much needed rest, we started our contemporary scene projects this week. For this particular course, our entire grade was paired off into six separate groups of around four people each. For each week, one of the group members serves as the “initiator” where they will direct 12-13 minutes of scenes and combine those with a 12-13 minute oral presentation about a certain post-war European playwright or company. At the end of the week, we watch each other’s scenes and presentations. This week, I acted in one of my classmate’s presentation on Mike Bartlett and his play Earthquakes in London. I played an older Scottish woman named Mrs. Andrews, so it was a good opportunity for me to do some physical work and study the Scottish accent. I have never had to do a Scottish accent for a show in the past, and I must admit that the rumors about it being hard are true. I fortunately got to a place by our presentation day that the audience could understand what I was saying. It was really pleasant to see the other group’s presentations because each person had a really interesting analytical perspective on each playwright that they chose. I am scheduled to be the initiator next week, and I’m hoping that it runs smoothly.
Alessandro McLaughlin - April 11, 2016
Well the show has opened, had it’s run, and closed!. I have had so much fun with this show. It was really nice to finally have an audience. The show felt whole because they were experiencing it with us. The seats were so close to us that there was no hiding from them. This was definitely my biggest challenge throughout the whole process. You would think with intimate spaces, you have the chance to give a more subtle performance. This is not the case with the house show. David Mamet’s writing doesn’t allow for subtlety, it is large and no holds bars. That was my biggest challenge as an actor. I was scared to embrace the largeness, but after rehearsing with Steve, I told myself to let go and be big. It was an amazing feeling and reminded me why I love theatre.
The campus of Rose Bruford is back in session with all of the students back from their break. We are all attending a week of workshops called Symposium. The structure of it is very similar to SETC: you attend workshops, lectures, performances, (like our house show) and so much more. It is really a fantastic week and I will write about my experience with it in next week’s blog!
Claire Richardson - April 11, 2016
After three to four weeks of hard work and extensive planning, we finally got to perform our immersive promenade style production to an audience. Due to the fact that there are three casts performing the same story at the same time in the same building, we spent a great deal of time this week going through each cast’s transitions to make sure there weren’t any major collisions. Whenever you aren’t acting in a scene, you are expected to either lead other audiences to their next location in character, or get in an interesting pose. In order to pull off this project successfully, we have around three to four crew members dressed in 70s clothing with walkie talkies constantly updating each other about each cast’s timing. While there was a lot of planning involved, our timings weren’t exact each night and there were multiple times where people had to lead audiences down a longer path or improvise with them until the room they needed to use was open. Despite these little flubs, the audience absolutely had no clue that anything was messed up. I was already electrified that we actually had an audience for my scenes, but the added element of trying to keep up with the other two shows in the building kept me thoroughly invigorated for our three-hour show time. Overall, this was a superb first encounter with immersive theatre and I would love to coordinate a similar project at some point in my theatrical future. Set Designer: Sally Hardcastle
Claire Richardson - April 4, 2016
During this week of rehearsals we started to block each scene individually while simultaneously getting off book. This tripped me up more than I had hoped considering the amount of time I spent studying lines the week before, so I was a bit frustrated with myself at times. While the start of the week was a bit rough for me, I made stronger discoveries about my character and found different ways to portray her story throughout the piece to make her more complex. Due to the fact that there are three separate casts of actors and only one official director, we split our time with three assistant directors that bring different questions and opinions to the rehearsal room. I have never had a project with this many directors before, and I have found that it allows me to try different choices with my character with a greater sense of freedom. One of my favorite parts of the week was getting to see our 1970s-style costumes for the very first time. I have never done a show set in the seventies before, so it was really exciting to see all the different fashions and pop culture elements that dominated that decade in such an antique looking building. In addition to getting a better grasp on my character this week, I also feel that my disco moves aren’t as much of an embarrassment as last week. We start our dress rehearsals very soon, so fingers crossed that everything continues to go well.
Alessandro McLaughlin - April 4, 2016
This week has been crazy busy, but in the best kind of way! We are in tech for the house show this week. It’s been really fun watching this old house turn into 1978 New York. The Stage Management team and Creative Team have been hard at work moving things in and out of the house. We have been pitching in when we are free, but we’ve also hit the ground running on tech rehearsals. We have our first full audience performance on Saturday! It has been a challenging show, and learning how to do an immersive show has taught me so much as a director.
As for the actor part of me, I have been hard at work on the character of Edmond. He is one of the most complex characters I have played. He has so many layers and challenges for me that I have stepped way out of my comfort zone for this one. I’m on my way to understanding him and I cannot wait to perform this show for the audience. One big thing I have learned working with Steve Dykes is to let the words do the job. I have had such a difficult time understanding the rhythm of this text; but the harder I work the more I get it. I just have to let the words do the talking and really stay present in my scenes and Edmond comes alive! I am excited to perform for an audience and ready to keep working hard.
Claire Richardson - March 21, 2016
This week has been quite hectic as we finished our Post-War British Theatre class and began rehearsals for our promenade style production coming up in April. I started off my week showcasing my final project for our Performing the Self class, where we essentially create our own three- to five-minute piece that was inspired by an element of our own life. I decided early on in the two-week course that I was going to do a stand up routine about the struggles I have of being a really tall girl. Stand up was covered in our second class, and it is surprisingly similar to theatre because they are both about storytelling. I also wanted to try it because I have always had an interest, and why not try something new? One of my favorite things about this class was getting to know the teacher, MojiSola Adebayo, and hearing about all the inspiring work she does across the world. While I picked my project early on in the process, the variety of exercises we did in class were all beneficial to my understanding of how I view my body and my strengths as a performer. These are all things that are beneficial when wanting to start a career in acting. Luckily for me, the class surprisingly found my jokes funny and the process of writing my own stand up routine gave me an even greater appreciation for the craft overall. My performance went so well that I am considering signing up for an open mic night when I get back in the states… only time will tell, but I am happy that I had the opportunity to try!
Alessandro McLaughlin - March 21, 2016
We are starting to get in the swing of things with the house show. I am playing the role of Edmond. He’s an interesting character to say the least! He has so many layers and is really out of type for me. I don’t usually play roles like him so I have to rise to that challenge. But, it’s a challenge I am willing to accept! It’s fun for me to shut off my director brain and turn on my actor one.
We have been working with Steve Dykes, the head of the ATA program, a little more this week. He’s the director for the house show, but there are three different casts so he is splitting his time with each cast. I have learned a lot already from working with him. He approaches the text in such a different way because he is a playwright. He really focuses on all the words and approaches the text like David Mamet approaches text. The words become the most important thing. We really take our time during readings of the script. I am not used to this approach but I am starting to like it. I can’t wait to see what our rehearsals have in store. We are doing disco choreography soon so I am super excited!
Alessandro McLaughlin - March 7, 2016
We started our Post-War British Theatre class and I love it. In the class so far, we have talked about John Osbourne’s Look Back In Anger, Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey, and Edward Bond’s Saved. All of these plays were written in the 1950s and 60s and were very controversial and revolutionary. Because of the way the class is structured, we have been having open discussions/debates about the plays. It has been fantastic! We have really dissected the plays and had a lot of rousing debates. It has made me think about these plays in a more critical way.
To help us understand Look Back in Anger, we split up into groups and staged a scene from the play. However, we had to find a scene that we felt fit with Aleks Sierz’s book Rewriting the Nation. My group took a quote we liked from Sierz’s book and then found a scene that fit it. It was a very challenging but interesting experience. Then, the next day, we actually got to talk to Aleks Sierz. He is one of the leading theatre critics in Britain and his insight on these plays was interesting. He said things that sparked a lot of debate and discussion. I look forward to talking to him again about plays from the 1970s and 80s!
Claire Richardson - March 7, 2016
This week we transitioned into our Post-War British Theatre course where we read a selection of plays written after World War II and discuss the context and themes in each piece. For me personally, I have always enjoyed these kinds of conversation classes, and this week certainly didn’t disappoint. We first started off learning about the struggles Britain faced after the conclusion of WWII in order to have a better understanding of the social climate of the time period. After learning the general history of the UK and discussing our opinions about each piece with each other, we had a class with well-known British critic, Alex Sierz. In addition to discussing the plays that we read that week with Alex, we also talked about the course’s overall question about the role of a theatre critic. One thing that this class has made me realize is that most theatre students spend their entire education critiquing plays or performances without ever talking with an actual theatre critic. Hearing Alex express his opinions about his job and the plays gave me a greater understanding of how to analyze theatre as a whole, and I am excited to have two more classes with him in the future.
Claire Richardson - February 29, 2016
This week has been incredibly busy because my class performed our modern day retelling of Hansel & Gretel to a group of school children this past Friday. Starting from Tuesday we finally got to rehearse in the space, and spent a majority of the time reworking or tightening up certain moments within the piece. Our class put an additional amount of attention on pinpointing our transitions in between each particular scene so the energy of the piece wouldn’t stall. We also spent a lot of time creating the soundscape of the swamp scenes in order to flesh out the atmosphere without massive set pieces and not overwhelming the spoken dialogue between the actors on stage. After long hours each day, we finally reached our first performance for over one hundred children. Thankfully all the students seemed extremely engaged throughout the performance and went along with most of our interaction moments. One of the most interesting things that happened during our performance was how much the children loved our Southern accents. Whenever we would ask them if they were ready for certain parts of the show, they would respond with “Y’all” instead of “Yes,” which made me giggle inside. Not only were the kids intrigued during the show, but they were also incredibly well behaved. While I’m happy that our show went well, I’m sad that the project is officially over.
Alessandro McLaughlin - February 22, 2016
My Theatre For Young Audiences class is cooking with gas! We have started to solidify our script and began to develop the characters more. It is really shaping up, which is a nice feeling because we perform it Friday. I have really learned so much about my creative process in this class. I have never really done devised theatre (developing a piece and script collaboratively) so working in this way has helped me so much as a director. It has taught me a lot about collaboration and starting from nothing and making theatre. We started with just an idea and some research and now have a show! The show is a centered around two kids in the Louisiana swamp, based on the story of Hansel and Gretel. It has been so excellent and I cannot wait to perform the show!
As for my Performing the Self class, that has sadly come to an end. And what a great class it has been. My teacher really let us be creative and my piece ended up being a rap about my struggles and myself. I have always loved rap music and it always influences my work. It was super out of my comfort zone, but I did it and it was exhilarating. I am so glad to have taken this class and really put myself out there. I will miss it, but definitely never forget what it taught me. Things are heating up here across the pond so stay tuned for more!
Claire Richardson - February 22, 2016
During this past week, my class made giant strides in finishing up our modern day retelling of Hansel and Gretel. Throughout the course of each day, we would alternate between sitting down to physically write the scenes as an ensemble and improving moments that felt a bit fixed or rudimentary. One of my favorite things that we did this week was working on the transitions in between scenes because it really forced us to think outside the box. We don’t have a massive budget for this production, so we have been creating the atmosphere of each scene with a collection of random items and branches that we found outside. In addition to shaping the varying landscapes of our piece, we also started to further develop our various characters with more specific physicality. In addition to the theatre for young audiences class that I am taking, I am also enrolled in a London Theatre course where I get to see a variety of productions in London throughout the term. This past week I had the opportunity to see the Tricycle Theatre’s production of The Mother, which really made me question my life because it was so intense. I have really enjoyed this class in particular because I can see the difference between American and British theatre. Next week is pretty big for me and my theatre for young audiences class because we perform our version of Hansel and Gretel in front of one hundred children. So far everything has been going well!
Katy Hinton - February 15, 2016
My name is Katy Hinton and for my semester abroad I am studying at Rose Bruford College of Theatre of Performance. I have been attending classes for two weeks now and so far everything has been very enjoyable! I arrived in London without any travel trouble or extensive questions at the border and was starting to be free of jet lag just a few days after landing. I’ve had the opportunity to go into London a few times, and I’ve already seen two shows in the city: Light, which I saw through the London Theatre class at Rose Bruford, and As You Like It at the National Theatre of London.
When classes, started I was excited to get to work. Rose Bruford is quite a small campus compared to Clemson, so it has been easy so far to find my way around without too much trouble. Right now there are two classes that I’m primarily focusing on: the first is Performing the Self and the other is Creative Movement. In Performing the Self, we are focusing on different ways to create new and original autobiographical work, which sounded intimidating at first, but I have actually enjoyed, mostly because of our wonderful professor. My Creative Movement class is also great. It’s a class that’s new to Rose Bruford this year and contains just six students including myself. The class focuses on working with nearby schools that work with children with learning disabilities. What we do is work with the school to run workshops focusing on dance and creative movement with these children. This has been one of my favorite classes that I’ve ever been a part of. I have learned so much and have also had a ton of fun. I can’t wait to see what the rest of my semester holds!
Alessandro McLaughlin - February 15, 2016
My name is Alessandro McLaughlin. I am a production studies in performing arts major with a concentration in theatre. I am currently studying abroad in London, England. Moving to London has been amazing. I am studying at the Rose Bruford College for Theatre and Performance. So far, I have been taking a Theatre For Young Audience class and a class called "Performing the Self." I love both of those classes. They are so different in nature and process. We are devising a show in Theatre for Young Audiences, and, in Performing the Self, we are writing our own solo piece. The classes are definitely stretching me out of my comfort zone and I love that. I have seen two shows so far, As You Like It at the National Theatre of London and Light at the Battersea Arts Center. Both of them were very different and really pushed the limits of theatre. I have been adjusting well to the differences in culture. My jet lag when I first arrived wasn’t too bad, so the time change hasn’t hurt me yet. Plus, I am starting to get the lingo down (cheers is thank you, fries are chips, cookies are biscuits, etc.). I cannot wait to see where the rest of this experience takes me!
Claire Richardson - February 15, 2016
Hello everyone! My name is Claire Richardson and I am currently a senior Clemson production studies in performing arts major studying abroad this semester at Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance. I am one of four Clemson students studying here as a part of a new exchange program set up with Rose Bruford, and I am so thankful (and excited) to be a part of this opportunity. Right now, I am in a class that is creating a show to be performed for children at the end of the month. So far we have focused on ensemble-building warm-ups and using improvisation as a way to construct the plot for our play. After two weeks of research, discussion, and improv exercises we have started to write the first draft of our modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel. I have really enjoyed this process so far because I have never devised a play before with a small group of people, and it has taught me a lot about how plays can be developed. Devising a new piece can be difficult because you have nine creative people trying to create one script, but it has been an incredibly interesting working dynamic that has worked wonderfully so far. In addition to class going well, everyone here at Rose Bruford is exceptionally nice and I am excited to see what this semester holds!