February 27, 2012

Climbing up the mountain… that is Mountview!

Two weeks ago, I was off timetable, meaning that I didn’t have straight classes everyday. I only had my rehearsals for my show A Week With Tony, which in itself was a long week.  For me this play was quite interesting. My director always talked about finding the truth within our characters. This way we are would be working from the inside out. As easy as it sounds for one of my characters it was very difficult to connect to her.

Snow in London, EnglandLuckily, I was given two parts in the show and one them was easily relatable due to the fact that she was a hard working, intelligent woman that climbed her way to the top.  She successfully ran a computer company and oversaw a bunch of men in the workforce. The other character was a spoiled and rich young women, who ate from a sliver spoon; however, she works for a public relations company. She is the mean girl of the show, so I needed to learn how to embody that but not make her a caricature. A part of me still doesn’t know if I found her truth at the end of the day, but I gave it a go.

Our director is amazing and hilarious. She is always up for us doing something totally off the wall. At one point we incorporated the Macarena into our play during a garden party scene. Then it turned into a major dance party as we were speaking the lines. As fun as the idea was, it was extremely exhausting and a little hard to focus.  The funny thing was watching people embodying their characters’ rhythm, especially actors that are extremely talented dancers. It was too comical.  The challenge with our play is that it has group scenes that are sporadic. The playwright packed so much information dealing with politics, money, relationships, etc. Therefore it’s hard to keep up the momentum and energy of the scene. But I feel as though we did it when it came to showtime.

Along with preparing for these shows we also have different briefs of homework. One of which is to prepare our singing assessment piece. I’ve decide to kill two birds with one stone and perform “Fifty Percent” from the musical Ballroom which is character legit. This means that for my last assessment I can sing a song from any of the three categories legit, character, or contemporary. So I’m thinking that I might sing “Colored Women” for the musical Memphis. However, that’s ways away to be thinking about.

Another homework assignment that I have to complete is to have a song prepared as if I was going to an audition for a musical in the West End or on tour.  Thus far my choices are The Lion King or Sister Act. I’m still working out what my audition piece will be because if I go out for The Lion King I’ll be auditioning for the part of Nala and I’ll have to learn”Shadowland” as well. If I go for Sister Act I will be auditioning for Deloris and I’d have to learn “Fabulous Baby.” Either way it’ll be fun. Lots and lots of singing is to be done over the course of the next couple of weeks.

Brandi Porter with her London classmatesUnfortunately, I have strep throat due to a recent snowstorm. Well actually I had been feeling sick all of last week. However, it was my friend’s birthday so I spent the day with him in central shopping for his birthday outfit (gift to himself). In addition, I was looking for a new top for the dinner later that evening.

I didn’t know that it was supposed to snow. So I got dressed up in a nice dress and high boots. Put on my pea coat and scarf then made the journey back to Central London with a bunch of my friends for his dinner. We had a beautiful three-course meal, then all of London shut down due to three inches of snow.  As beautiful as it was, it took me forever to get home. The tubes were moving so slow that at one point it stopped and the driver said that we needed to consider finding alternate means of transportation. But 20 minutes later it started. I had to wait another 30 minutes for a bus but I started walking home because nobody was sure if the bus was running. As I was walking uphill the bus came, only to get stuck two stops later due to a pile up. Therefore I still had to finish walking up the hill in my boots in order to get home.

So as I said, I had some days off; unfortunately, I was still in school practicing dance and having singing lessons.  Since my singing assessment was that same week I had to put in extra time. Overall, I thought the assessment went well for me but it wasn’t my best. The feedback that I received was: lovely, confident start; nice connection to chest resonance; good forward placement; nice mix of vocal qualities but be sure to back them up at all times with a strong technique; good story told; we went on a journey with the character; good articulation; and give yourself a moment of grounding before you engage the character. I have made more vocal improvements since the last assessment.

In addition, I received my feedback for all of my classes and it looks like I’m doing well but I have more to work on.  Here is what some of my teachers had to say.

Acting: Exceptionally gifted with a facility for transforming thought into action. Could push herself further to instill the work with more edge, overcoming checks and balances that can block strong choices being made. Consummate professional.

Sight Reading: Made some good solid progress through all the classes in a subject you find difficult because you stuck with it and have not been beaten. Well done. You can always get more eye contact. In the next few weeks take great confidence in your achievement to focus on really bringing the text to life with all your emotional intellectual capacity to make it real and not read.

Voice: You have taken some real courage and thrown yourself in the deep end of a subject that you had no previous experience in. You have engaged with your learning process with humor and warmth and you have been an asset to both your groups. Keep working to find more center and develop your breath support.

Jazz: Great attitude, wants to learn. Taken corrections on board really well. Good understanding of what she is trying to achieve, just practice needed to make it habit. Try to relax neck on turns. Leg position in second needs a little more attention.

Tap: You have worked so hard and have made so much progress. Well done. Remember to relax in the knees but really control the balance at times. Work for loose ankles and remember to practice slowly with detail, then build up the speed. Excellent commitment.

Ballet: Fantastic progress so far. You have some good dynamics in your dance; you are showing a clam quality in your adage buoyancy to your allegro. With pirouettes, don’t give in; they are improving all the time. Keep working on your arms and practice spotting in all genres.

Now I’m back in gear and I’m on overload because I need to keep learning as well as further incorporate my technique into everything I’m doing.  It’s all about practicing to build my muscle memory, which means little amounts of sleep, longer hours and weekend rehearsals. I keep telling myself that it will pay off in the end! Which in one of my classes it did because my Jazz teacher use to perform the dance routine one at a time and it’s safe to say that I had it almost down pat. If I add that same personality, energy and attitude to dance assessments maybe they won’t be that bad. ;)

In terms of our shows this term I’m working on Shakespeare. Therefore, for four weeks I will be living and breathing Macbeth and King Henry VI parts one and two. The end product will be twenty scenes compiled together of our interpretation. In Macbeth I am Hecate, a Greek goddess of the three witches and in King Henry parts one and two I am Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester.

I’m really excited to work on this because our director has so much energy and is extremely talented. She makes interpreting Shakespeare easy and fun.  I’ve never found the text more relatable to current events and themes to everyday life. To make the workload even more heavy I have a 6,000 word essay to write on the production, in addition to choreographing my two minute dance for assessment, as well as memorizing and perfecting my Michelle Obama speech, on top of learning the Megara Greek monologue from The Children of Heracles by Euripides, all while reading a play for Acting class in which I have to be one of the characters for the duration of class write and deliver a monologue  (in a northern Irish accent) and be asked questions about my character in relation to the scene and other characters.

Well, I hope I didn’t tire you out with my little schedule! I also have shin splits but I’m doing everything I can for it! On another note, my 21st birthday is this Friday (March 2nd) so I’m excited for that. I’m already receiving birthday letters. Don’t worry, I haven’t opened them yet! :D

posted in Brandi Porter

3 Comments

  1. Brandi, I miss you tons, but it sure sounds like you haven’t got the time to be missing us! It all sounds so exciting, so hard, but so essential to help you reach your goals. I’m rooting for you all the way! Happy, happy birthday, and give London a smile for me. Love!

    says Liz McMahon
    February 27, 2012 at 8:49 pm
  2. Dearest Brandi, Tears came to my eyes as I read about your amazing experience, hard work, exposure to such diversity and obviously high quality of acting, music, dance education, and developing skills!! I am so proud of you and love you so very much, Roni

    says Roni Moncur
    February 27, 2012 at 10:48 pm
  3. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO BRANDI!!!!!!!!!!!

    You are doing great work and learning so much! I echo the comments about being proud of you. But I also know that the talent is in you and I think that you are having a ball (although it is hard work) discovering all that you are.

    You are taking England by storm and also bringing them more snow (storms!) then they have had in years. We have had little to no snow here; it all went to you!

    Sincerely,

    John M

    says John Marlowe
    February 28, 2012 at 9:31 pm
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