April 1, 2012

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel… Hello Easter Break!

Finally it is Easter break! I think these next two and a half weeks are well deserved for all of us at Mountview! The killer term two has ended and now we still have tons of work to do! How deceiving! First off, I have to complete my actors working notebook, which is a 3,000-5,000-word refection essay. Next on my to do list is my actor’s working notebook 1,500-word essay along with my journal entries from this term. Third, I have to read the Invisible Actor by Yoshi Oida. Fourth, I must read a play and cast four or five of my fellow classmates in a challenging scene from it.  Fifth, I have to read the musical Company, in which I am cast as Jenny! Yay me! Sixth, I need to memorize a monologue that will be performed when we get back from school.  So there is my break….NOT!

Well, let’s go back a couple weeks. The last time I was talking about dance assessments and my results are in. In tap I received 60. My ballet score was 58. My jazz was 64 and my choreographic routine received a 67. Now I know some of you are reading this and thinking I failed. However, on the contrary, overall I scored a 2:1, which is very good. Especially since I’ve never technically trained in these subjects before and I was dropped in the thick of the second year term. The Head of Dance was very proud of the progress that I’ve made. I had hoped that I did better in ballet and tap but with the shin splits and stress I’ll take what I can get.  I haven’t been able to run yet but I think my shin splints are getting better.

The next assessment that I had to face was Political Speeches. As excited as I was to do my speech I found out that I was last out of the 49 two and a half minute speeches. I knew that the pressure was on. My speech was from Michelle Obama’s 2011 Spelman commencement ceremony. Overall, it went very well. I had the rhetoric, breath and support; however, I was at odds because I had to preach it. Thus, I had to find a balance between the truth and the gospel stereotype. I felt as though sometimes that becomes difficult to do here only because the view of the stereotype is quite strong.

Also, I know that I have the references to pull from since I have family members that are pastors/deacons yet I don’t know if I had to do it again if I’d perform it as much. Still, my classmates weren’t laughing at me but they aren’t exposed to the rhetoric as much, so to them it was refreshing I think. The great thing is that I’ve learned a technique that helps me connect to my support and resonate my sound. If you inhale then do a lip trill until the air runs out and repeat this however many times necessary the vocal cords become warm and the sound should fill the room. In addition, while I do a lip trill I also roll my r’s. For me this produces amazing results and gets me feeling completely ready to be on voice and perform.  My grade for this assessment was a 74, which is a first. Actually, this is the first 1st I have received at Mountview so I was in awe and happy.

My final assessment was in Shakespeare. Unfortunately, I had a virus that has been making its rounds around the school. I was losing my voice, running a fever and coughing terrible. On top of that, I got hay fever. It’s crazy what beautiful weather can do to me. Honestly, I don’t know how I feel about my mark. I got a 57.6, which is 1.27 better than I did last time. So I’m getting better slowly but surely; however, I thought I was doing really well throughout the process but that make was my lowest from the director. I got a 55 but then again I have to keep reminding myself that marks don’t matter and that people can’t grade talent. They can speculate and criticize it though.

The only thing was that my written feedback from my director was as follows: “Thank you for the energy, joy, and humor. You have a great ease and facility physically and vocally. Trust and enjoy your choice- they are valid and strong. Smashing work (Shelley).” However, when it came to my check marks, I received mostly satisfactory, a few goods and one high for realization in performance.  In rehearsals, I was told that I was clear in my thoughts and that I had good physicality but maybe I could have been bolder.

All in all, I guess you can’t please everybody and the bar is always rising. Therefore, I have to keep taking risks and communicating with my directors to ensure that I am giving what they want.  I did learn that I have developed a bad habit of catching the eye of my director or voice coach in rehearsals. I feel as though I do it because I never know if I am doing something right technically or performance wise. Since we are critiqued so much and I feel as though I’m playing catch up, I need conformation after I do something.. Nonetheless, it is really a bad habit and I’ve got to trust that what I am bringing to the table is suitable.

My technical marks did increase. I received a 61 in acting, 57 in voice and 60 in dance and movement, whereas before I was in the low 50s. But to each his own! I still had a blast performing it and I think that later in life I could try out for Shakespeare. I even enjoyed watching all of the other shows!

On a sad note two of our Department Heads are leaving so we did a tribute to them by singing Flying Home. My year also sang A New World, which was something they performed their first year at the school. In the same night we also had choreographic evening where a bunch of students performed their choreography from their dance assessments. Each performance was phenomenal: the talent at the school keeps amazing me.

Then afterwards we went out with our teachers to a Salsa club. Let me remind you that we did one two-hour class on salsa dancing in the fall term. Still, we danced the night away; people at the club even taught us some moves. Needless to say, it was a perfect send off to our lovely teachers. <3

The last day of school we had a four-hour workshop with Peter Polycarpou. He was Ali Hakim in the Hugh Jackman stage production of Oklahoma as well as numerous TV series and movies. The workshop was kind of like our Acting through Song class, yet he didn’t want us to act or perform. He wanted us to tell the story and be truthful. I got picked to sing; however, due to my cough attacks I didn’t want to strain the vocal chords. He did say that he’ll be back so next time I will hopefully be in complete health.

The workshop was very informative about how to engage and connect to the song. In addition, the great thing about this was that it enabled me to hear some of the first years sing and their voices are incredible, even though I wouldn’t have expected anything less.

The truth is that this term has helped me learn so much about myself as well as my craft. In spite of everything I have to remember that it’s all a learning process. This experience is a journey, not a race, and I don’t have to add to the stress of the environment. Marks will not predict my future but constructive criticism can only help me. I believe in my talent and I have what it takes to do well in the industry. I just have to relax and trust in all my abilities. It never helps to kick myself down, especially since there will be other people who try to do that for me. I’m excited to keep putting the technique into practice as it is providing me with great results. In addition, it is helping me grow as an individual. I always say find the positive in any situation and run with it. No matter how challenging things get there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Now I am getting ready for my Eurotrip! Tomorrow I shall be in Paris with my mom. I can’t wait. I have to say I’m more excited to spend time with my mom and go to Italy to eat pasta and lay on a beach. So now I must return to my work. Until next time J

posted in Brandi Porter

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  1. Hi Brandi,

    (Boy, I can’t type today!)

    I was able to do one of the first productions of COMPANY soon after it closed on Broadway for a community theater in the ’70s. Watch out for the pot-smoking scene!

    Enjoy your mom and your trip!

    John M

    says John Marlowe
    April 2, 2012 at 3:18 pm
  2. I wish you all the best in Paris, you will love it! I think we all feel the deceptive relief of the break thinking there is no coming back but at least there is some free time.

    says London
    April 12, 2012 at 5:37 am

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