Writing on LISPA

I’m going to drama school

Straight to the point: at the end of October I’m going to be starting an almost-full-time acting course at LISPA. Woo! Yay! Eek! Scary! Blimey! etc.


In LISPA on 10 July 2006. 6 comments. Permalink

First two days

So I’m now a drama student, which is a scary thought, and it hasn’t quite sunk in yet that I’ll be doing this every day. Yesterday was just introductions — we entered the large room we’ll be spending our days in, we met most of the teachers and we had the usual first day of class thing of everyone in turn saying who they are, where they’re from and why they’re here. Then lots of mingling and forgetting everyone’s names.


In LISPA on 31 October 2006. 1 comment. Permalink

Forward rolls

I’ve mentioned before that my least favourite day at school was Wednesday, due in large part to the presence of Gym class. My inability to do anything that involved turning temporarily upside down lead to tears in front of the rest of the class at least once, and Wednesday has seemed like a day to be wary of ever since. So it’s only fitting that our one Acrobatics class of the week is on Wednesday afternoon.


In LISPA on 1 November 2006. Permalink

Deference and diffidence

In today’s improvisation class we had a task that was both minimal but also tricky and very interesting. The stage is a room in the swanky London home of a well-to-do Lady you’ve come to visit. Expensive rug, large paintings, views across a tree-filled square, lavish spread of food. There are five of you, strangers, and you enter one at a time.


In LISPA on 3 November 2006. Permalink

Week two

Any hope I had of maintaining a decent frequency of tediously detailed writing about my LISPA acting course vanished this week. There’s not enough time to go to class, write notes, work on web stuff, see friends, post stuff here, and spend any time with Mary while we’re both awake. So, a quick end-of-week-two catch-up…


In LISPA on 10 November 2006. 3 comments. Permalink

Masks, tension and being upside down

This week we’ve had our first encounter with masks, neutral masks to be precise, although we’re not supposed to call them “neutral”, a word which apparently doesn’t have the correct connotations for our purposes. They looked slightly like these although those look rather too wide-eyed and smiley compared with what we used.


In LISPA on 15 November 2006. 2 comments. Permalink

Not feeling it

I seem to be coming home frustrated this week, and today more so than ever. Started the day with our Creation Group, trying to come up with a scene to present to the class on Monday, on the theme “Fantastical World”. It’s not going well. We’ve had two-thirds of our time and have almost nothing to show for it. We can’t even agree on what the theme means — exactly how “fantastical” is it? I think the scene needs to be based on the real world and its behaviours in order for the audience to relate to it, and to make the fantastical element clear and contrasting. But we keep gently not-quite-reaching consensus on both this and the need for a narrative/dramatic build (yes, we need one, others don’t seem to quite agree).


In LISPA on 16 November 2006. 3 comments. Permalink

Creation groups

I’m ploughing on, after the frustrations of last week, and so far this week’s looking better.


In LISPA on 21 November 2006. 1 comment. Permalink

Working in large groups

I haven’t felt much like writing about college the past week or so as I’ve been finding it frustrating. There’s a whole bundle of frustrations, although the biggest for me have been in the “creation group” work I wrote about last time, frustrations about both myself and the group.


In LISPA on 29 November 2006. Permalink

The fundamental journey

Our large group peformance based on a day in Selfridges went surprisingly smoothly, considering we hadn’t even run through the entire thing once. It was very rough and had several acres of room for improvement but I was pleased it all flowed together reasonably well, with few points where things were horribly, glaringly wrong. Having said that the teachers were, I think, unusually generous, having nothing bad to say about it. This is most unlike them and I’m a bit mystified by their praise, which left everyone feeling very positive about the whole experience (despite the difficulties of communally wrangling so many people into a cohesive performance; I can’t describe how frustrating I found the final couple of all-too-democratic rehearsal sessions).


In LISPA on 10 December 2006. Permalink

End of the first term

I feel like I owe an end of term post about the acting classes, which finished just over a week ago, so, a quick summary.


In LISPA on 24 December 2006. 3 comments. Permalink

Standing stock still

Three weeks into the second term, nearly half-way through, and I haven’t written anything yet. Too much college, work, theatre and Pepys. I wasn’t looking forward to returning to college. I’m not sure why, maybe just too settled in to spending time at home over Christmas, but as soon as I got back it was like I’d never been away. However, this term has been very difficult so far.


In LISPA on 28 January 2007. 4 comments. Permalink

Move the music

My previous piece about college may have left you with the impression that this term has been nothing but frustrations. Well, a much of it has been nothing but frustrations but there have also been good things and I’m hoping the worst is now behind me. So, some good things…


In LISPA on 6 February 2007. Permalink

The 57 steps

The second of this academic year’s four terms at LISPA finished last week. I think everyone has found it a difficult term, and I’ve been very up and down from one day to the next.


In LISPA on 1 March 2007. Permalink

Try now, judge later

One thing I need to get past at college is my negativity. And cynicism. And self-consciousness. And sarcasm. And all my other related, deeply ingrained “talents” as I like to think of them. Since I started taking acting classes I’ve known these things can cause problems and the more I do, the more I appreciate how much they can hold me back. Thankfully I’m also occasionally managing to get past them, briefly.


In LISPA on 6 March 2007. 3 comments. Permalink

Larval masks and animals

Hell, three weeks into the third (of four) terms already and not a word from me about it. Time to put that quickly to rights. Here’s what we’ve been up to…


In LISPA on 29 March 2007. Permalink

Finishing with animals

Real quick, as I must dash to college shortly. First, LISPA has an open day this coming Monday so, if you’ve been reading this with thoughts of attending from this autumn, why not come along. You need to book a place and details are on the LISPA site (click ‘Latest News’ and scroll down the pop-up window; yes, it would be easier if their news was visible on the front page of the site).


In LISPA on 12 April 2007. 2 comments. Permalink

Carrying on

Last Friday the third of four terms at LISPA ended, and it was a good week or two. My group’s masked performance on the Monday went badly (stopped by the teachers before we finished) but we had a fun week and Friday’s performance went well — we enjoyed it and seemed to get a good reaction. Soon the fourth term begins and I need to decide whether to stay at LISPA for the “Advanced” (final) year.


In LISPA on 3 May 2007. 2 comments. Permalink

Up, down, up, down

My previous perpetual dithering over whether to continue the LISPA course next year was mainly sitting on the fence, occasionally swinging my legs from one side to the other. This week, first day of this year’s final term, I began nowhere near the fence and have ended up back in the leg-swinging position again. Grr.


In LISPA on 18 May 2007. 3 comments. Permalink

Going to church. And mosque, temple, synagogue…

We’re currently half-way through a four week project (with 5-8 hours a week spent on it) in which we have to produce a piece of theatre based on a place we’ve observed. We’ve split into four groups and I’m in the “religious spaces” group. It’s been a great opportunity to have a look at some places I’d never otherwise have been to:


In LISPA on 25 June 2007. Permalink

Final performance

Last time, I wrote about the fun week we had going to a mosque, temple, synagogue and some churches as research for our end-of-year performance. When I wrote we were already a week into the three weeks of devising and rehearsal time and I wasn’t having much fun. I hoped it would get better but unfortunately it didn’t.


In LISPA on 12 July 2007. Permalink

Twenty Movements

Here we are, the final week of the year at LISPA, and the only thing those of us on the Initiation Course have been concentrating on is our Twenty Movements.


In LISPA on 19 July 2007. Permalink

Back to school

Finally, term has started. These short European (I think) style terms mean most establishments are half-way through their first term already, but our first day back was today.


In LISPA on 22 October 2007. Permalink

The Advanced Course begins

We’re four days into the second (and final) year at LISPA and so far I’ve been alarmingly content. This makes me uneasy. It’s not normal.


In LISPA on 25 October 2007. Permalink

It was fun even

We’re into the third week now and it’s been the usual bumpy ride of “what fun!” periods crashing into “what am I doing with my life?” crises. Annoyingly, although my previous post was fairly upbeat, it marked the start of a few days of thinking I’d seriously made a mistake in returning to LISPA for the second year.


In LISPA on 6 November 2007. Permalink


This year we have a new weekly class, Company Development. It concerns the practical issues of putting on theatre: finding collaborators, forming a company, finding space, promoting shows, applying for funding, etc. Our first homework was to write down our “dream life as a creative artist” and the obstacles in our way. This was my attempt:


In LISPA, Personal on 12 November 2007. 2 comments. Permalink

Epic storytelling

I owe you at least one “college is going great” post. So here it is. College is going great. No, really. I’ve been mostly happy there for an entire week now and, of course, can’t imagine what the problem was before. Stupid emotions.


In LISPA on 24 November 2007. 1 comment. Permalink

Flood of chatter

A belated catch-up on the end of last term at LISPA. When I last wrote we’d just decided which stories we were going to tell for our end of term performance, my Creation group picking Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.


In LISPA on 27 December 2007. Permalink

Without worrying about acting

One week into the new term at LISPA and it’s been fun so far. Up to now we’ve been behaving like young children: playing games, forming clubs, playing at being grown-ups, revealing the rudest word we know. It’s incredibly silly, very tiring and reminds us (OK, me) that we don’t have to be sensible and logical all the time.


In LISPA on 14 January 2008. 1 comment. Permalink

People instead of puppets

Last time we were behaving like children at college. Since then we’ve moved on to “the grotesque”. I’d love to offer a succinct explanation of what “the grotesque” is but after a couple of weeks I’m still not too clear, and I don’t think I’m alone.


In LISPA on 3 February 2008. 6 comments. Permalink

Our quest to understand how things move

It’s not often that we use text at LISPA; almost everything we do is either improvised or devised by ourselves from scratch. This term though, we’ve had to remember how to memorise lines for a couple of assignments.

One was to choose a small part of an existing speech. I missed the day when we were given the task, but I think the gist was that it should be a passionate speech, and it might be even more interesting if we disagree with its sentiments.


In LISPA on 12 February 2008. 2 comments. Permalink

Stuck in a stable space

This year most people seem happier with our weekly Voice classes than they were last year. Unfortunately I’m less happy this year and have been struggling to fight my “this is nonsense, I’m giving up” reflex, which has been kicking in more frequently than in any other class. This term Voice has focused on writing our own songs, which has tested my reflex to the limit.


In LISPA on 25 February 2008. 2 comments. Permalink

Hanging on to the reins

This term we’ve been juggling several things: the grotesque, delivering speeches, writing songs, classes in Butoh, making puppets and costumes and, finally, chorus. A lot of what we do at LISPA is somewhat baffling. We’re always moving on to something new, sometimes just as the old thing starts to make sense, sometimes long before we start to understand it. We hope that ideas we’re currently floundering in will make sense in coming years. Chorus has been one of those confusing things, and now term’s at an end I’m still clueless.


In LISPA on 5 March 2008. Permalink

Brits on a train

As I mentioned in the previous post, it was a busy term. That term, the second of four, finished a week and a half ago (I’m a bit behind). It was eight weeks, which doesn’t sound like that long a time, but the end of the first term seems an age away.


In LISPA on 8 March 2008. Permalink

A mental "yes"

Two weeks into the third and penultimate term and we’re making big comedy steps into the world of the clown. Well, tentative, silly steps anyway. I think plenty of us have been looking forward to this term just because clown stuff can be a lot of fun. When it’s not being frustratingly difficult. We each hope to find our own particular clown this term. If we have one.


In LISPA on 31 March 2008. Permalink

Creating narrative as a team

Clowning continues at college, and we’ve begun to make some slight changes of direction into areas in which red noses aren’t de rigeur. We’ve started looking at the absurd for example, and it was tricky trying to create a nonsensical situation that was also comprehensible.

Right now I’m enjoying college and am even starting to feel sad that the end is approaching. We only have a couple more weeks of lessons, then rehearsal for the end of term performance, and then one final term full of nothing but rehearsal for the various end of year shows.


In LISPA on 15 April 2008. Permalink

Meagre ambitions

The last few days at college have been Full Of Fail for me. Well, not even that; “fail” implies I tried to succeed at something, while my recent failings have been three things I simply haven’t taken part in.


In LISPA on 28 April 2008. 1 comment. Permalink

Different types of funny

These two week “holidays” from college don’t get any less hectic. Busy busy.

Last week was the end of our penultimate term and we had our usual end-of-term performance, presenting a few things we’ve worked on during the previous weeks. Usually, pieces in the performances have all been in response to provocations from the teachers as part of our weekly Creation themes. This term, in which we’ve looked at clowning and other comedic territories, was more free-form and so some of the pieces performed were put together just because someone had an idea.


In LISPA on 14 May 2008. Permalink

Enjoying enjoying

That whooshing sound I’m suggesting you pretend to hear is the metaphorical sound of this year rushing past: we’re now a week into our final term of the course. Classes finished last term and we’re spending every day rehearsing. For these first two weeks we’re putting together a show of the best pieces we’ve developed over the past year which is proving to be surprising fun.


In LISPA on 2 June 2008. Permalink

Occasionally going "SSSHHHH!"

The last few days have been a bit of a blur as we prepared for and then put on a show of the best bits of our work over the past year. (I would have loved to invite you but space was much too limited unfortunately.) Quite aside from trying to get the pieces themselves up to scratch, the biggest challenge at this stage was creating a complete show out of about twenty separate pieces, with 34 actors, and no dedicated crew of any kind. Here’s what I remember of how our time was spent:


In LISPA on 11 June 2008. Permalink

Telling each other what to do

We’re now in the third week of the final phase of the Advanced Course at LISPA, our final projects. At the start of term we put on a show of the best stuff we’d created over the past year. Now, it feels like we’re looking forward rather than back, as this final few weeks begins a transition into the real world.


In LISPA on 30 June 2008. Permalink

The director’s vision

We’ve now had three of our eight final performance evenings at college, with six to eight people having their final projects performed each night. Other than my own piece (which is on the last evening, next week), I’ve now done all the performing I’ll be doing, and it’s been a lot of fun.


In LISPA on 9 July 2008. Permalink

Now and Then

Last Friday was the final day of our two year course at LISPA. It’s strange to be finished, but more of that next time. First, I’ve been meaning to write about my final project which we performed last Wednesday.


In LISPA on 22 July 2008. 1 comment. Permalink

Love and hate

I’m getting a bit behind. It’s been ten days since my time at LISPA ended and I’ve been busier than I expected, catching up on things I’d neglected for the final busy few weeks. I’m now on holiday in Paris doing very little: catching up on reading, wandering aimlessly, eating well, etc.


In LISPA on 28 July 2008. 1 comment. Permalink