My name is Amy Clarkson, I am 18 years old and I have just completed my first week of Level Two summer school. Having just finished sixth form, my experience of theatre has been limited to mainly naturalistic playing styles and musical theatre. In the past week I have been introduced to different theatre styles such as physical theatre, clowning and improvisation as well as working on song and dance.
At the beginning of the week we began work on a play called ‘Over the Wall’ written by James Saunders, in which we act mainly as an ensemble, using physical styles such as Commedia dell’Arte, to become stylized doctors, disgruntled villagers and even create a ‘machine’ with our bodies. In this play, we also had the opportunity to devise our own moments in groups.
At the final performance we will also sing two songs; ‘Raise the Roof’ from The Wild Party by Andrew Lippa and my personal favourite, ‘Twenty Million People’ from My Favourite Year by Flaherty and Ahrens. Each song was taught to us by our M.D., Matthew, who then added harmonies and split parts of the songs into solos. For ‘Raise the Roof’, Eileen and Richard choreographed a dance in couples influenced by the jazz and Latin styles in the number. Even as an experienced dancer, I found dancing with a partner challenging but have very much enjoyed this part of the course. Richard’s setting of ‘Twenty Million People’ is great fun to perform, with sharp ensemble moves and comedic solo moments to create the chaos of being backstage at a TV studio.
On Friday, we were introduced to clowning techniques which we will showcase in a piece adapted from ‘Fox in Socks’ by Dr Seuss. Clowning is very different from anything I have done before, and this new style teamed with the tongue twisters in the piece made it very challenging to begin with. In this adaptation we become schoolchildren desperate to impress our teacher, Mr Knox, using our entire bodies to create the characters and situation.
Although tough at first and a lot of hard work, I would recommend the summer school to anyone interested in pursuing performance, as the course has really helped my confidence in performing non-naturalistically and has given me an insight to professional theatre.