Study Weekend 2011 – “Pieces like this make me want to puke!”


The sun always shines in Sidcup

Well as mentioned previously the annual Study Weekend at Rose Bruford College is the highlight of my academic year. 2011 was no different.

Primarily I’ve laughed lots and shared my passion for theatre with a group who feel equally as passionate, even when my disdain for Stanislavski and some modern playwrights is expressed by me in rather blunt tones! It great to mix with other people with a vast range of experiences/nationalities/views. I really enjoy the stimulation this weekend gives me, intellectually, physically and emotionally.

So what did we get up to?

Well it kicked off with a session by David Chatterton on “Signs of a Good Performance: Writing for Readers and the Work of the Theatre Critic”. This was a fabulous start, David gave us much to think on and we broke into groups and looked at varying reviews of a recent production. This was especially helpful to me and the reviews that I write. David is the tutor for a module I commence in September on Theatre Criticism. This session gave me much to muse upon and I imagine this module will have a very strong effect on my reviews – I trust for the better!

Next up Dr Rachel Clements led a session on “Plays Without Signs.” Here we were given sections of plays written in the last 15 years by Sarah Kane, Martin Crimp and Simon Stephens. My group had the play Pornography and it was fascinating what others in my group thought about how it should be staged. I was surprised too, this play deals with the events of the 7th July attack in London, I lived very near where the bus exploded that day and I was surprised how emotional this play made me feel and how feelings I thought were a thing of the past came right back. So an emotionally tough session but worthwhile. The title of this post  “Pieces like this make me want to puke!” was exclaimed by Sharon, on her feedback from her group, they had Martin Crimp’s Attempts on Her Life as their text, this split the class but I’ll be honest I agree with her! I’m not sure what merit there is to a “playwright” who writes so little of a play that the cast and crew and director has to basically create the work?

A break for something to eat which was just as well as the afternoon was going to be pretty physical.

We had a session on Kudiyattam theatre. This is an ancient Indian form and was certainly outside of all our comfort zones. Our tutor  Arya Madhavan was extremely patient as we tried to learn the foot, hand and rhythmic movements required. Think aerobics and yoga with a bit of drama thrown in  and I think that’s probably what the class looked like. We then had the chance to work out our own brief sketches using this form to present back to the whole group later on.

Dinner was served, accompanied by a nice glass of red wine.

We returned to the Rose Theatre and presented our pieces back to everyone, which was good fun. Our tutor then presented a 10-15 minute performance of a Kudiyattam performance, telling the story of the young baby Krishna. It was spellbinding to see this intricate and unusual theatrical form performed for us. A brief interview and Q&A session followed which was equally as enlightening.

A visit to a tavern was a suitable  finish to the day to continue our discussions.

Loosing an hour of sleep, failed to deter us returning fresh as a daisy this morning for more. I unfortunately was held up with “technical” issues preparing for my lecture in the afternoon. So missed most of Prof Michael Walling’s session on “Physicality, Energy and the Making of Meaning”. I did get to see the groups performances at the end of the session and enjoyed those.

After lunch I presented my own lecture to the students, “The Closer You Look, The Less You See.” Looking at signs and gestures used in the art of conjuring. The students and staff seemed to enjoy my performance and lecture which I was pleased at. I’ll post up a synopsis of the lecture up on here at some point soon.

A final session on study tips and encouraging us all as we study remotely, was a perfect end.

I huge thanks to all the staff that helped organise and run the weekend, and thanks to all those that attended, it’s sharing events like this with such a fab bunch that makes studying so enjoyable and the Study Weekend the highlight of the academic year.