Last October, having completed my preparation to deliver four 1/2 day workshops at the Braemar Arts festival, I fell ill with the horrible flu and had to postpone at the very last minute. We decided on late Spring as a good time to re-schedule and taking the glass half full perspective it also meant that people who play instruments or like to take part in arts and crafts activities at the festival were free to attend all of those sessions last October and still attend all 4 drama workshops – good result! It’s not only Braemar folk who come along with one person timing her visit up to Braemar from the south of England to coincide with the workshops, that’s real dedication. Another drove up from Edinburgh setting off again straight after we finished on Sunday for an early start on Monday.
My challenge is to deliver 4 standalone workshops so that there is no inter-dependency, anyone can come to any combination without having to attend all of them. Myself and Marilyn agreed that we would keep the titles from the year before and I would see if I could reimagine what they could be. With some people completely new to drama I always recommend everyone try to come to the first morning as that is where we play and become comfortable with each other and the idea of performance as a basis of discussion and group learning.
Here’s a breakdown of the weekend
Sat 10am – 1pm Let’s Play warm-ups and games including some improvisations
Sat 2pm – 5pm The Play is Everything – looking at creating characters for devising new theatre we explored the process that Mike Leigh uses to create realistic characters
Sun 11am – 1pm From Page to Stage – working with monologues that can occur within plays or as standalone performances
Sun 2pm – 4.30pm The Actor and The Text – working with scenes focussing on rehearsing and playing with different interpretations
If a theme did emerge then it was probably focussing on characters – creating them from scratch or developing them through existing text. Although the group perform murder mysteries, panto and small sketches they are also very happy with the challenge of devising so I try to deliver a good mix in both of these areas.
What a journey we all went on together. The usual good humoured banter was in evidence with the more experienced performers encouraging and supporting the less experienced. Being together for a whole weekend creates a very special bond between all of us which is evident in the level of risk that everyone is prepared to take. We had a particular moment that occurred during one of the performances of a monologue where the actor seemed to completely inhabit the character and the situation in a way that was seamless – of course the trick then is to try to capture some of that magic through into performance which was the basis of some great conversation.
I always feel like part of the community in Braemar and when to in workshops I attended the ukelele club and sang with the choir. On the Saturday evening we enjoyed a meal together and with everyone coming along we almost took up the whole restaurant – i just hope we weren’t too noisy for anyone who wanted a quiet evening.
I won’t be at the festival again this year as I will be at the Blairgowrie festival the week before and I think that everyone appreciated having a separate weekend of drama. The Spring weather made for a very nice drive up and I look forward to my next visit up to my friends in Braemar.