An Audience’ Perspective
A few of us headed towards Camden to see the A2’s performance of “Victory” by Howard Barker. They were going to be performing in a small theatre on top of a Pub called “The Oxford Arms”. It felt like one of those make or break situations and none of us were sure what to expect. For those five actors and actresses, it would be the culmination of two years of hard work and hard training under Rob. They all knew that as good as last year’s performance was, this year’s would have to be ten times better, the stakes were higher, and the reward would have to be bigger. I had been out with one of the performers the night before, and though he wouldn’t mention it, I could tell he was nervous. I was thinking back to the feeling I had the night before my performance. I couldn’t help feeling a bit sorry for him, a bit sorry for all of them – I was almost nervous myself.
Before the performance started, I could see the examiner’s head in one of the rows in front of me, leaning forward, unsure of what to expect. She probably thought it would be another typical half-hearted amateurish A Level drama piece. I was reassured, she had no idea how good they were, she would find out soon enough.
The play itself was better than any rehearsal I had seen, the emotions, the wordy almost abstract speeches of the play were brought to life. They weren’t my friends out there, they were altogether different people, it was believable. There was a great bit of interpretive dance midway through, all in all the performances were visceral, engaging physically and emotionally charged. All of the performers really excelled themselves. We who were watching it were all deeply affected by the performance. I felt like a changed person. What a great day!
A Student’s Perspective
Before I started drama at Ashbourne, I had not done any acting before and during the months preceding my performance I was extremely nervous. Our drama teacher taught us, step-by-step, how to physically and mentally inhabit our characters. This was difficult at times because the play we were preparing for, ‘No Exit’, was written in France in the 1940s. Every aspect therefore, needed to be historically accurate in order to be faithful to the characters. Rob urged us all to commit ourselves fully to the parts and we used various techniques in order to discover more about the characters we were playing. For instance, in the weeks running up to the performance we created entire back-stories for our characters and by the time of the performance we knew the motives and objectives behind every line.
When the day of the performance arrived, despite being nervous when we entered the stage, we put everything we had into it. For someone new to drama, it was an exhilarating experience, it was funny how, in the heat of the moment, I found myself no longer trying to remember my next line; instead the lines just came out naturally and spontaneously. When the performance was over it was quite sad because it had been such an enjoyable experience and rehearsals had been such a team effort. We were all really grateful to Rob for transforming us into competent performers.