Wednesday 26th March 2008 by C. Freeman
GCSE and A-level groups brushed up their acting technique during a two hour masterclass with a professional actor. Peter Holdway, who has appeared on stage, television and film led the session and gave advice on the students' performance pieces for their exam coursework.
The GCSE group are devising dramas based around the seven deadly sins, while the A-level group are exploring issues of age and infirmity as depicted in their study text, 'Bed' by Jim Cartwright.
A total of 18 students from the two groups, along with teachers Ms Nicholson and Mrs Brown took part in the workshop session held in the Weston Theatre. They started off with a warm-up before exploring different ways of using movement, particularly how to portray age and infirmity in a realistic and sensitive way.
Mr Holdway said: 'A lot of my focus was how to give an idea of age without it being a cartoon. It's interesting for a student or young person to explore what being an old person is like. Sometimes you can see what somebody's life was like because of how they become in their twilight years.'
Mr Holdway, who has been acting professionally since 1981, has appeared in many productions, including the iconic shows at the Millennium Dome in London where he acted from a platform 50ft in the air. As well as traditional acting jobs he also takes on character roles at tourist destinations such as the Tower of London.
He said: 'My real background in terms of performing is physical theatre which encompasses mime and Commedia Dell'Arte, an Italian traditional street pantomime. Shakespeare and Moliere used a lot of influences from Commedia, and even now soap operas still use stock characters that can be traced back to that tradition.'
'I gave students the idea that onstage the body works all the time and performance is all visual and physical. One of the joys of being an actor is that you get the opportunity to explore different facets of human nature. I was very impressed at how quickly the students picked these ideas up and developed them.'