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London Playwright Blog and Workshops: A Resource For Emerging Playwrights

London Playwrights’ Blog was started in 2013 as a resource for emerging playwrights.  They aim to bring together the latest opportunities, best resources, and good advice in one place.​ ​In 2015, the team formed London Playwrights’ Workshop Ltd as a non-profit company to help expand this support for writers through workshops, events, and expanded online resources.
​​Are you interested in using lyrics in your plays or even writing for musical theatre? Learn how to channel your playwriting skills in a new direction to open new doors. Coming up in November a half-day intensive encourages participants to open their imaginations and work with language in a new way as they explore the intricacies of lyric writing.

Playwrights generally have a good instinct for compelling turns of phrase, but turning these into songs requires a different skillset. Powerful dialogue, or even beautiful poetry, do not necessarily translate into effective song lyrics.​ ​Whether you want to write for a band or a West End stage, there are certain patterns and tricks that songwriters use to make their lyrics compelling and exciting.

This workshop will cover​ ​inspiration – finding and nurturing song ideas​, ​structure – finding the right frame for your idea​, r​hyme – when to use it, when not to, and the wisdom to know the difference​, f​eel & ​f​low – how to judge the ‘singability’ of your lyrics​, t​he basic ‘rules’ of lyric writing – and also how and when to break them. Where to go next – ideas for continuing to develop your skills as a songwriter

This workshop is primarily targeted at people who want to write songs for characters (building on their skills as playwrights), but that doesn’t mean you need to be interested in writing for musical theatre.​ ​Each participant will complete a series of writing exercises during the workshop, that will see them leave with lyric ideas and a clear plan for how to take these forward and continue to develop them into complete songs.

New Production By Russian Theatre Company Xameleon in London

Xameleon Theatre is a London-based theatre company founded by actress and producer Vlada Lemeshevska in 2015. Over last couple of years Xameleon Theatre presented various shows based on Russian and international classics, including A Dog’s Heart by Bulgakov, The Little Prince by Saint-Exupéry, Ibsen's A Doll's House and Love in a Nutshell based on Anton Chekhov’s short stories.

Working with professional actors and directors from Russian speaking countries, Xameleon Theatre promotes Russian theatre in the UK. Performing in Russian with English subtitles, their work is appealing to both Russian and English speakers interested in Russian theatre and culture.

They are currently working on various projects and will be presenting their next show Diaries of a Mad Man based on Nikolai Gogol’s novel and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s diaries in February 2019. Director Konstantin Kamenski combined the stories of two civil servants, and together with the designer Irina Gluzman, explored the relationship between genius and madness, hopelessness and the desire to escape into the imaginary world.

Actor, Theatre Director and Teacher Michael Chekhov

For the Russian actor, director and teacher Michael Chekhov (1891–1955), the essence of artistry in acting, as in any discipline, was transformation. He wrote extensively about ‘the hallmark of talent and the divine spark within the actor’ — the ‘ability to transform oneself totally’ — and explored this transformation in unusual depth in his teaching.
Chekhov was an Anthroposophist, a follower of the teachings of the spiritual philosopher Rudolf Steiner, and his association of artistry with divinity was not merely a turn of phrase, but a reflection of that belief system. Steiner posited intimate connections between the human and the divine, or between ‘the sense-perceptible world’ and ‘the spiritual realm’​.​
​H​e taught a process of ‘clairvoyant perception’ by which he claimed that his followers would be able ‘to perceive the world we enter after death’ and thereby see beyond physical appearances and ‘move from the figure we perceive to the actual being.’ For Steiner, however, ‘clairvoyance’ was not only spiritual but artistic: he defined the artist by the capacity to ‘create in beauty a piece of the world, so that the image on canvas or in marble lets us see more of the world than we do on our own.’

Old Vic Theatre for Young People in London

The Old Vic is a gateway to a world of creative, social and employment opportunities in the theatre. World renowned, The Old Vic today leads the way for the next generation of theatre-goers and theatre-makers as it has done for almost 200 years. Whether your interest is in theatre on or off stage, in broadening your creative imagination, or simply learning how to communicate better in an interview, this is where futures begin.

Whether it be a creative business, a side project or if you’re simply interested in working for yourself. We know you’ll be leaving more inspired, knowledgeable and that one step closer to reaching your entrepreneurial potential.

Our day-long Careers Festival in partnership with ERIC FEST is open to young people aged 16-25. This interactive and immersive festival will offer creative workshops, networking opportunities, panel discussions with industry professionals and a chance to find out more about jobs in the creative industries and beyond.

Our highly successful creative practitioner programme is for young people aged 18+, offering advanced hands-on experience in creative facilitation and the chance to develop key transferable skills.

Over 12 sessions, you will experience practical facilitation training from The Old Vic Education & Outreach team and guest creative practitioners as you learn about different workshop delivery practices.

Areas of training will include: communication and presentation, leadership, Practical facilitation skills, writing and creating workshop plans, behaviour management, CV and interview skills.

This free programme will help you hone your own delivery style and build your own toolkit of techniques and exercises. Your training will end with you experiencing life as a professional facilitator, as you devise and deliver your own workshop alongside your fellow Front Line Facilitators. All facilitators will be paid a fee for their final workshops.

How to Act (3): Theatre actors and their secrets

Roger Allamhas worked with the RSC, the National, Shakespeare's Globe and in the West End. TV and film includes The Thick of It, Tamara Drewe and Parade's End. Here's what he says:

Learn your lines so well that you never have to worry about them.​ ​Keep a notebook about the play, the character, the period, your moves. It'll help you remember what you have done so far – especially if you're having to rehearse in your spare time rather than all day, every day.

Never go dead for a second on stage. Even if you are doing nothing, do it actively. Listen.​ ​If something goes wrong – say someone drops something – don't ignore it. Try to deal with it in character.

Warm up your voice and body. Get used to the size of the auditorium; if you don't know it already, go to the worst seats in the house and have conversations with people on the stage so you get to know what kind of energy is needed to be heard.

Be ambitious. The great actor, director and playwright Ann Jellicoe commissioned writers like Howard Barker and David Edgar, and put on magnificent, large-scale plays in Dorset that involved the whole community.

On the other hand, probably avoid Aeschylus's Oresteia or anything by the German dramatist Heinrich von Kleist.​ ​Try not to worry about embarrassing yourself. That's a lifetime's task.

The Victorian actor Henry Irving said: "Speak clearly and be human" – but if you listen to his recordings, the boundaries of that are pretty vast. James Cagney said:"Never relax, and mean what you say." I think that's pretty good.

You are released from the miserable aspects of having to earn your living in this marvellous business called show, so have fun: be as serious as you like, but enjoy yourself.

London International Mime Festival 2019

London International Mime Festival takes place this January and February at venues across London. The festival is a great showcase for the very best international contemporary visual theatre, with a programme incorporating cutting edge circus-theatre, mask, physical theatre, object theatre and puppetry from all over the world. This year’s programme features exciting new work from Gecko, Peeping Tom and Gandini Juggling & Alexander Whitley.

Mime all began in Greece, at the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens. Actors wore masks and performed outdoors, before audiences of 10,000 or more, at festivals to honour the God of theatre, Dionysus. When the Romans conquered Greece, they took mime back to Italy, and found ways to make it their own. This is when comedy and tragedy developed.

Mime continued to grow throughout the Middle Ages, and in Italy early 1500's, Commedia dell'Arte emerged. Acrobatic street performers began wearing masks with exaggerated comical features, made to draw attention to the performers. The characters they created became known as Zanni. In 1576, a company of Italians led by Flamino Scala travelled to France, where mime became extremely popular. 

Nearly two and a half centuries later, in 1811, Jean Gaspard Batiste Deburau - an acrobatic street performer - introduced the lovesick  character Pierrot to French theatre, which changed mime from what it was then to the art form it is known as today. After the WWI, many other famous mime artists found fame, including Charles Dullin, Etienne Decroux and Jean-Louis Barrault, with Marcel Marceau coming around after WWII. 

The silent film era began in the 1890s, before it was replaced by 'talking film' in the late 1920s. A lot of the time in silent films they used title cards so they could tell the viewers what was happening in more detail.

 

Acting Workshop for Choreographers

International Physical Theatre Workshop is the international residential workshop open for practicing choreographers interested in developing their skills, exposing to new ideas and methodologies, refreshing what already is known and experience international context of creative process.

The program includes intensive practical training, lectures and discussions.

This workshop will introduce some of the most effective techniques and approaches towards contemporary performance making in the context of the short rehearsal time and multicultural aspect of the creative team.

Choreographers will participate in the practical process together with dancers, actors and directors.

The workshop is highly recommended to choreographers interested in learning about the ensemble building, structuring the rehearsal process, methods of creative process stimulation and performers motivation.

If you wish to get exposed to new techniques and methodologies, and ultimately, to network with practitioners from different countries and establish future creative partnerships with like-minded people - join us!

How to Act (2): Theatre actors share their secrets

Miriam Margolyes has worked at the RSC and in the West End; she has been touring her one-woman show about Charles Dickens and his female characters since 1989. Films include The Age of Innocence and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

She doesn't see any difference between amateurs and professionals – so she would give her tips, such as they are, to anybody. The aim of any actor is the same: to tell the truth in such a way that people will be entertained, uplifted and surprised.

Listen before anything else. Read the text over and over again, and make sure you know the lines. Go and see other performances, and be critical about them: work out whether you'd have smiled in that place, or turned your head at that moment.

Never show off. You can sometimes come to a particular point in a show and think, "I'm really good in this bit." Never, ever think that. Never read reviews. She hasn’t read hers since she was in rep.

Never know more than your character knows. She isn't talking about research; she means that when you are performing, you must stay inside the truth of your character. Don't signpost to an audience what they should be thinking.

And the most important thing is to breathe. If you stop breathing properly, you get a sore throat. And if you stop breathing, you die.

Lighting and Sound Design Workshops for Actors and Theatre Directors

Are you an actor who has wanted to light or sound design your own performances but you didn't have the skill set? Or maybe you're a director who has had difficulty conveying your vision to designers and technicians because you didn't know the lingo, a performer who didn't know how to communicate an idea to the creative team, or a producer who has been unsure of what to include in your technical budget. 

To remedy the technical knowledge gap in performance, Part of the Main presents new initiative Part of the Grid: affordable, practical lighting & sound design workshops at the Drayton Arms Theatre. Beginners welcome!

In these day-long courses, students will learn the basics of theory, safety, and delivery of lighting and sound design, as well as the jargon used by professional designers. Students will be taught by professional lighting and sound designer Will Alder, whose designs have been seen and heard everywhere from the West End to Theatre503 to the Royal Academy of Ballet, and from Ireland to Saudi Arabia. Students will also receive a custom handbook that they can write in and take home for use in future projects. 

Courses are £40/day, £60/both, but are just £30/day or £50/both for City Acting students. City Acting students can even use exclusive code DESIGN5 for a £5 discount. Each course comes with a handbook.

Tickets available on the Drayton Arms website: 

https://www.thedraytonarmstheatre.co.uk/tickets/part-of-the-grid-design-workshops

How to Act : Stage Stars Share Their Acting Tips

What makes a great stage actor? We wish we followed these rules all the time when we act. The truth is, you really learn these things by doing it: "acting" means putting it all into action. Here’s a few tips from Niamh Cusack who has worked at the RSC, the National Theatre and the Old Vic London.

Trust your playwright. If he or she is a great one, most of the work will have been done for you. Read the play at least three times out loud before standing it on its feet. A lot of the blocking (the positioning of the actors on stage) will come out of understanding what your characters want, and from whom.

Listen to the person who's talking – unless your character isn't listening to them. Don't be afraid to make an eejit of yourself. Change the look in the other person's eye. If it's in verse, paraphrase it first. Keep it simple. Remember that most characters use words to affect, connect with or change the other person. Finally, always remember it’s only a play !

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