In any case, Geoff Bullen (head of the BA Acting program) took us on a tour of the main Gower Street building. He is wonderful; you can clearly tell how much he cares about the school. He reminds me a great deal of Tom Fulton from the Chagrin Academy, especially when he gets a little bit lost and long-winded about the history of RADA. The building is really neat. The front half used to be a townhouse and the back half was just a building. Of the three theatres, we only got to see one today. It is a very flexible space that has clearly been remodeled recently. Fascinatingly, the chairs have been chosen and designed so that they acoustically function the same whether there are audience members seated in them or not.
What the Hell Are We Studying?*
Ok. back to business. Our course is called Timemarks of European Theatre History. We begin with the ancient Greeks, Aeschylus to be specific. We study the history and work on a casual presentation/performance of Agamemnon.
Then we jump 2500 years to 1642 when the Puritans shut down all the theatres in England. We will do a similar presentation performance of The Knight of the Burning Pestle. It sounds hilarious, but I know LITERALLY nothing about it other than what Nick said today.
Our next unit jumps 16 years to Moliere. During this unit, we will work on Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. It's punny because it translates to The Middle Class Gentleman. Nick was very clear that, while we could focus on plays about royalty or the upper class, he thinks it is much more interesting to do plays about the middle class and how normal people were represented in theatre. I think I agree.
Our final unit is on Brechtian drama of the 1920s-ish. We will probably be performing The Trial of Lucullus by Brecht on a real stage with lighting design and fancy stuff like that. The issue is that the play was initially written as a radio play and then turned into a stage play for 20 people. We only have 8 students in our program. Sooo, Nick has to do some work on adapting this play. There seems to be the possibility that they change the show selection depending on his ability to make the play work for 8 actors.
All of that sounds wonderful, and it will be a LOT of work. Classes go from 10 am-6pm every day. It is a ridiculously long day, but I was anticipating our days to be 9-6:45, so I'm thrilled. All of our classes will be held around the corner from the main building. They have scheduled us to be in the same studio for all our classes all semester. They seem to think that is a great thing, so I'll bite and go along with that. These classes include clowning, singing, dancing, voice, physical performance/movement, assimilation (which is Alexander technique), and some history lectures. Because they want us to have a multifaceted exposure to the history we are studying, each focused class will base its curriculum around the timemark unit. For instance, our dance teacher is an expert on period dance. We will learn about dancing theory and choreography from each period of time. Similarly, we will work on songs in the style of each timemark in our singing class. It sounds very interesting and unusual.
Tonight, we are going to the RADA bar to see the RADA students perform in a cabaret. Should be a fun night!