Week Two was a busy one! Our stories are starting to take shape, and we're continuing to build on our social skills and grow as an ensemble. Here's what we worked on:
Somer was this weeks Dance Party DJ and she mixed a combo of old-school classics and some newer faves. Everybody loves Walk the Moon's "Shut Up and Dance", we got to show off our "mean dance moves" (lots of kicks and punches) to Michael Jackson's "Bad", and clapped and jumped a lot to Florence + the Machine "Dog Days Are Over."
For this week's warm up, we kept both groups together. Katie led us through some different types of breath to see how breathing makes us feel. Want to try?:
- breathe in through your nose for a slow count of 5 and then out through your mouth (like you're blowing out a candle) for a count of 5. Repeat 5 times in a row. How does that make you feel? Our actors replied they felt "calm", "focused, "awake."
- now breathe in and out through your nose really fast like an engine. How is that different?
- Place a hand on your belly. Take a long slow inhale through your nose and see if you can send your breath into your belly. Then use your abdominal muscles to help you take a quick powerful exhale out. Fletcher didn't like this one because he said he felt "pregnant", but this works a really important muscle called the DIAPHRAGM. If you can let your diaphragm drop when you take a breath, it will help you get more air into your lungs, and it will also support your voice. The diaphragm is like a trampoline - you drop the breath onto it and it will bounce your voice back up without you having to use all the muscles in your neck and shoulders. This is really important if you're trying to project your voice to a big theatre!
Next we used our "belly breathing" to help us start to make some sounds and play with a tongue twister. Our tongue twister was all about "Big Black Bugs" - we used our faces to help us make the words, but also to show how grossed out we were!
We recalled that last week we worked on characters, so this week we're learning a new piece of the story: SETTING. We went over our schedule for the day. This week's structure was a little different than last week: Kendra & Peter taught music and Katie & Lawrence focused on Activities based around our Location theme. The Lemons started with music and the Limes started with group activities and then we switched rooms so each group got a chance to do everything. Once everyone was clear on the game plan, we broke into Lemons and Limes and got to work!
This is a focus and ensemble-building game. We stand in a circle and one person starts to pass the "Whoosh" around the circle. You can only pass the "Whoosh" to the person next to you, and the "Whoosh" can only go in one direction. We went around the circle a few times with a "Whoosh" and then we introduced "Whoa". If someone says "Whoa" it reverses the direction of the "Whoosh". Sound confusing? Well believe it or not, in the weeks to come, we can add even more elements to it! Stay tuned to find out what happens if we say "Zap", "Splat", or "Steal"!
We worked in our writing groups early in the hour this week. First up, we reviewed characters and made sure everyone was ready and willing to lock in the characters we talked about last week. Then we started to think about settings and locations where all these characters might meet up. Our goal was to come up with at least 2 locations as a group. Together, our lists included: a film set, hospital, concert (specifically, a One Direction Concert...naturally), airport, swamp, school, and desert!
On the Spot
Using these locations, Lawrence led us in this game. We had to think about what somebody might see or find in a location, and working in our teams of 5 we built a moving picture of a place.
- The Blackberries were in a Desert: Natalia rode a camel. Sam wiped sweat off his forehead, Marissa played down to sunbathe, but Fletcher and Emily both passed out from being so hot!
- The Strawberries were in a Swamp: Sam and Mila were crocodiles, Somer rowed a boat, Lucas was a tree, Lucy was a frog, and Colleen went home to take a shower because the swamp smelled so bad!
- The Oranges were on a Film Set: Alena, Emily K and Jack were the stars of the film (it was a big musical scene, Alena was a singer, Emily was a dancer, and Jack was a mysterious man with a gun coming in), Rachel was the camera man, Katie held the boom mic, Samuel sat in the director's chair and called "action" and "cut"
- The Ban-Apples were at a Concert: Susan was a ticket taker, Quincy and Andrew sang, Ben played the drums, and Becca was a screaming fan.
For this game you have to think about how you would move through different environments. Katie talked us through our voyage to space: we suited up in a spacesuit, buckled into our spaceship, and blasted off in search of other planets. Each planet we landed on was a little different: one planets was hot like a desert with burning sand and no water, one was made of all water and we had to swim through it, one was sticky mud that got deeper and deeper as we tried to explore, and everybody's favorite was very very cold because the whole planet was made of ice cream. We ate so much ice cream we all got stomach-aches and that's when we decided to take our Spaceships back to earth. This game is really fun for using our imaginations, our sense memories, starting to mime actions, and exploring movement.
We always try to incorporate one big group number in all of our shows that showcases our whole ensemble as one giant team and lets them show off their musical prowess. To give you an idea, here's a video of our Big Ensemble Number from last semester's Adventures in Wonderland:
This semester we've been inspired by "Glee" and "Pitch Perfect" and are doing a mash-up of two songs that work surprisingly well together. We don't want to spoil the surprise but one is a newer song by a famous female pop singer, and the other is from a classic 80's movie. Both fit nicely with our identity theme, and not surprisingly, our actors are already familiar with them, so we just need to work on putting them together. First, we learned the choruses and sang them on their own and then we layered them to sing both at the same time. It's going to sound really cool!
We brought everyone back together in the large dance studio and revisited this game from last week.
We reviewed our locations, talked about our favorite moments from the day, shared the plan for next week, and also celebrated this week's ensemble birthdays! Birthday girl Emily K got to lead us in our group closing and then we were off until next time!
Next week we'll be talking about relationships. How do our characters all relate to each other? How did they wind up in the places they're in? Come back next week to find out!