Wednesday 11th November 2009 by C. Freeman
GCSE drama students saw a theatre production then had a workshop with some of its actors the following day. Ian Redford and Alasdair Craig who appeared in 'All My Sons' at the Curve in Leicester gave an acting masterclass to students, explaining how a work is translated from the written page into a finished production.
The students were given various exercises to help them get into character. They had to use storytelling techniques and portray people of differing status in a group situation. The session finished with the students 'directing' the actors.
Ian, who led the workshop session, played the character of Joe Keller in the play. He told the students: 'You draw the character and yourself closer together. You often think it's about putting on a character but actually you are trying to look inside yourself to find out what you have that relates to that character.'
Miss Duguid, who saw both the production and the acting workshop said: 'The students now have to write an evaluative essay about a production so what they were looking at was the lighting, the acting skills, the set; all the constituent features and having the actors then come in for a workshop is going to support the next task for the students where they now put on a performance of a completely different text. They are taking on acting skills and developing a sense of what it means to be an actor rather than just studying drama and that's the important thing here. It gave them an insider perception of the text and the kind of tools they would use to pull the text apart and take it from page to stage.
'Some of the exercises where they started playing with the script really helped the students to understand it. Many would say that Arthur Miller's texts, particularly this one, are very mature and sophisticated. This play deals with issues of guilt, betrayal, denial and blame. The relationships, although they are very human, are very volatile and emotional. We were able to really explore that in the workshop and it really enthused the students.'
After the acting session Ian, who has been in the profession for 36 years, said: 'The students responded extremely well, they were very bright, concentrated and focused. We tried to demonstrate how to approach working on a scene. Often when you work with students they tend to want to entertain and impress by making funny things up but it works so much better if there's a silence so it's more real. It's trying to get them in touch with that.'