Artistic Director of Theatretrain writes:
Whether you dance, sing or act you learn to bring something of yourself to a performance. How do you do that in a performing arts school?
In Theatretrain we have a word ‘attitude’ that describes the feeling of the performer as they work. Every song, dance or scene tells a story. Whether you are a singer, a dancer or an actor your first job is to discover the person you are playing and the place where the story is happening. You can’t tell a story without knowing the who, where and what but there is another level to performance – the ‘how’ of what you do.
In Les Mis there is a famous song called ‘At the End of the Day.” It’s about poor people who are struggling with their day to day lives and the rhythm of the words almost spit off the page.
” At the end of the day you’re another day older
And that’s all you can say for the life of the poor”
As a performer you know your character and have worked on your own specific story but this song brings several characters together. Collectively they feel a connection in their lives. The attitude is of anger. You can achieve this technically by being short and sharp (staccato) but to raise your performance to another level you need to bring your own feelings to the action. We’ve all been angry, we’ve all been hungry, we all know that feeling of being left out. Performers use a negative memory of a particular point in their lives to focus their mind as well as their body. In this way they transform themselves into the person.
The fun of it when you are learning to sing, dance and act is that the palette of human emotion is very wide. You might start with happy but as you go along you realise that happy can take many forms. There are differences between joyful, delighted, contented, relieved, ecstatic. It’s to do with exactly why you are happy. If your team has just won the cup final it will be different feeling to finding your lost phone.
Bringing in your feelings to a performance pulls it together more truthfully and transforms your character. It makes you closer to an audience. When a group does this together it makes a huge difference in their training as it rubs off on other people.