Oh, it’s sad! We’ve all had such fun together. To think ten weeks have gone by since I first ventured into the doors of CityLit. As happens in an elective course that doesn’t cost very much money, a good half of the people we started out with didn’t continue, and mysteriously, Julian, our beloved renegade, didn’t turn up for the final two weeks. Pip, the instructor, was afraid she had been too critical of him, but Katherine and I figure he’s in jail.
So let’s see, there’s me with my scary orange hair (I got it fixed as near as it can be, by a Hairdresser To The Stars! he does Geri Halliwell’s hair, and Tara Palmer Tompkinson’s hair! What, you’ve never heard of them? better get a subscription to Hello! magazine right away). Then in the back row are Pip, the teacher, Katherine the fashion model, Colin the pub owner, Ken from Kent, Renee the 25-year-old mother of an 8-year-old boy, then next to me is Marcus the Brazilian waiter, Magalie the French physiotherapist, K the rapper, and Natasha, the posh Goldsmiths girl turned bartender. An acting class is different from other classes in that the subject matter is sharing yourself, in a way. There isn’t anything of substance to learn, write down, get tested on. You just turn up every week prepared to do whatever embarrassing, frightening, personal, goofy thing the teacher asks you to do. So everyone is very, very supportive of everyone else. The last day’s exercise was completely hilarious. Three of us volunteered at a time to get up in front of the rest, and Pip gave us each a slip of paper with a sentence on it. We were to memorize it and not share it with anyone. Then the rest of the class assigned us each an identity, a location, a situation, and a secret that we all share. Then we were to start conversing as who we were, in the situation, and somehow find a way to throw our sentence in without its being obvious. Then, once Pip knew we had all worked in our sentences, she stopped us and the rest of the class had to guess what the sentences had been. Crazy!
I was in a group with Magalie and Natasha, and two of us were to be patients of the third who was a gynecologist. “Who should be the doctor?” Pip asked. Colin said, “Well, not Kristen, that’s too obvious.” What?! So I was one of the patients and Magalie the other, with Natasha playing the doctor. Our situation was waiting in the “queue for the loo” at a rock concert. My sentence was “Studies show there are at least ten paedophiles in every school.” And our shared secret was that we all had crushes on the male receptionist at the doctor’s office. So off we went, randomly beginning a conversation, improvising with what each other was saying, and also trying desperately to work in the sentences. The funny thing being, obviously, that while we’re all carrying on this conversation and trying to sound plausible, each of has a hidden agenda to steer the content in a way that the secret sentence won’t be detected! Somehow I managed, because no one guessed, and in fact, our little threesome was entirely successful. Then we cast Colin as the grumpy barrista behind the coffee bar in the school canteen, and Ken as a Spanish teacher at CityLit, and Renee as a student, and they were all having a smoke outside the school building. I can’t even remember what their shared secret was, but we all guessed their sentences because the randomness was completely obvious. “My uncle is a terrorist” is hard to plunk down in the middle of any conversation, and Ken had some rambling question about why all exits at the Oxford Circus tube station lead to Argyll Street! Hilarious.
Then as the final exercise, we read through and acted out a scene from “Titus Andronicus,” which the class had seen but I missed by being sick, damn. Even though I have acted in Shakespeare plays before, somehow I never knew, or had forgotten, the notion of iambic pentameter. I never realized that every Shakespearean line goes “da da, da da, da da, da da, da da,” in the rhythm of a heartbeat. Clever boy, that Will. And that when a line doesn’t do that, it’s for a specific dramatic reason. Renee had never read or seen Shakespeare before and started out completely befuddled, as I think you do when it’s new, but by the end she and everyone else had a good handle on the text. Most of them are going to carry on with another acting class, and Colin in fact is taking four courses at once in the autumn. I do think he’s good. When I got home, Katherine had emailed both Colin and me, asking if we’d like to get together this summer for improv. How flattering. The only reason to regret spending the summer at Red Gate Farm.
OK, speaking of text, I’ll close with an absolutely fabulous poem written by Avery Curran. Too bad there isn’t a QCPS Poetry Contest. Probably if I suggested it, Mrs Davies would find a way.
Come, my army
Of paper and pen.
Help me fight monsters.
Plus evil men.
Start my story,
End it too.
Stay and have tea!
For I love you!
Of course I do!
We are great friends
We’ll enter a world
Avery Curran 2006Print This Post
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