Every Tuesday evening is like escaping to Narnia as I go to Masque Youth Theatre. The friends and directors there are unlike any other. As you walk into Northgate School hall where the Youth Theatre is held, the laughter and smiles engulf you. Everyone is truly happy to be there and see each other. Recently we have been starting the development of our next production, Ringtime. We have been working in four groups doing four different workshops. These consist of Shakespeare, movement, comedy and characterisation.
The first workshop I took part in was about characterisation. We were given a poem to read whilst in character as our main task. This helped us learn how to remain true to our part while we were not talking and how to convey emotions with body language in addition to dialogue.
Next was a session of silent comedy. As one of our tasks banana skins were laid down – a slapstick classic – and people were asked to walk through them with a particular impediment. This workshop helped build everyone’s confidence and also allowed us to see how to use comedy effectively in a performance.
The movement workshop was very physical. We learnt how to do the haka, a tribal dance performed famously by the New Zealand rugby team to intimidate their opponents. We then created our own dance, using both traditional Maori words and English. The workshop showed us all how to use our bodies whilst performing and how physical drama can be.
Our final workshop was based on Shakespeare. As one of our tasks we were given a speech from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and began to study the rhythm of the lines. We all found it surprisingly hard to keep the flow of the iambic pentameter whilst putting expression into our words. From this workshop, we learnt that acting requires complete concentration and careful analysis.
During these four weeks, everybody learnt a great deal. Each workshop consisted of very different exercises aiming to improve different aspects of our acting. I am sure this will help make Ringtime a very successful and professional production.By Jeni Mulchrone