John Gillett blog posts

Moving from rehearsal to performance

I recently directed Shelagh Stephenson’s The Memory of Water for an MA final production, and once we’d done all the basics and established the imaginary world of the play and the actors began to embody the characters vocally and physically, as always another challenge presented itself: How to make the transition from rehearsal space to theatre? How to communicate with the audience without losing connection between the actors?

   Our rehearsal space was actually quite large, but the Guildford theatre we were to play in was substantially larger with over 170 seats and a difficult acoustic. We’ve all seen performances that didn’t make the transition into the theatre, lacking energy, clarity and a reach beyond the first row of the audience. I knew the venue could be difficult, so prepared well in advance of the Tech and Dress rehearsals because, as usual, we weren’t able to get into the theatre for any rehearsal before this time.

   First …

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Physical and Vocal Expression and Integration

Physical and vocal expression and integration

I last wrote a piece on directing Measure for Measure and the importance of first using imagination to explore the circumstances and action, and using the imagery and metaphor of the language to give full expression to that imaginary world. As Stanislavski made clear, we go from the text to the subtext and back to the text, where the subtext means all the given or imagined previous circumstances, character background, relationships, thoughts and feelings etc. that give rise to the text from the writer’s and actor’s imaginary viewpoint.

Once we get into the later stages of rehearsal, we need to make certain that the imaginary world and  complexity of language are actually being communicated. Technical voice and movement work are not enough in themselves to achieve this. How often have we witnessed voice and physical skills being left in the skills classes?  Body and voice need to be fully integrated into the …

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Imagination and text

Imagination and text

I’ve just started directing Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure with BA acting students. This coincides with the publication for Bloomsbury of my new books: Acting Stanislavski – A practical guide to Stanislavski’s approach and legacy, and, written with Christina Gutekunst, Voice into Acting – Integrating voice and the Stanislavski approach. One of the problems often encountered by actors is how to connect fully with text, circumstances, and action – not just intellectually, but in an integrated way with mind, body, imagination, senses, feelings and will – and we focus on this a lot in our books.

   What always strikes me whenever I start on a play, whether modern or classical, is that the vital key we need to unlock a text is not a degree in linguistics or a fascination with the technique of rhetorical devices but - imagination! Imagination opens the door to the imaginary world of the play created by the writer, and which …

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