I really hope that you are keeping safe and well in this crazy time! I wanted to update you on how my second term at LAMDA has been, and how my drama school training has had to adapt to these incredibly strange circumstances that we find ourselves in. It has definitely been a strange few months, but I’ve really enjoyed having my course to focus on and it’s been amazing to see how quickly we have all been able to adapt to a completely new style of training, and are continuing to find new and exciting breakthroughs every day.
I returned to London in January to start my second term at LAMDA after Christmas. Whilst I was excited to be reunited with my flatmates and course friends, and felt much more settled into the city, I was still a bit apprehensive about the new term ahead. But I quickly got back into the swing of things as we jumped back into our schedule of classes from 10am-9pm every day. After a few weeks of eating Christmas chocolate, it was definitely a shock to the system going back to these working hours! We continued classes in singing, spoken voice, accents and movement, and started some new classes in acting. My favourite class of this term was Clowning. Each week my classmates would have to dress up in the funniest outfits possible and one by one were tasked with trying to make the class laugh, by whatever means necessary! In what became our last class of spring term, my whole year came together in one studio, dressed in our clown gear to perform some scenes. Normally our year group is split in half, so it was fun to be able to work altogether and there were some really memorable comedy moments!
For our projects this term I worked on the Jacobean play ‘Women Beware Women’ and the Restoration comedy ‘The Rivals’. I found both parts difficult and definitely felt stretched out of my comfort zone. But I had a lot of fun rehearsing for both projects, particularly in ‘The Rivals’ where I had to wear a huge blonde wig, corset and bum roll! I’m picking up lots of different tools from each project I work on and am continuing to learn what things I find helpful and what I’d like to keep working on. Unfortunately, our Restoration play was cancelled just a few days before the performance in March due to rising COVID threats. But our tutors are planning for us to perform this in September at the start of our second year of classes.
I have been back living home on the Isle of Man since March when LAMDA stopped its face-to-face teaching. After a few weeks off for Easter break, we began the start of our summer term with 6 weeks of online teaching via zoom. It took a while to adjust to this strange new way of learning and get into the swing of the new timetable. I spent mornings catching up on homework and had my lessons from 4pm till 8-9pm. Although these class hours were much shorter than the long days we had been used to at LAMDA, we all found the online classes really tiring. I have definitely tried to take breaks from my screen in the evenings and weekends to give my brain a bit of a break!
Whilst it has been a real shame not to be working with my tutors and classmates in person, I do feel that this experience has challenged us all in the best way. These news circumstances have forced us to adapt, be creative and take ownership of our own training. With fewer timetabled hours, we were expected to develop and practise our own warm up sequences and reflect on what tools we find the most helpful. Having a bit more time has allowed me to really focus on what areas I want to improve upon in acting, voice and movement, and working in isolation has made me feel more confident in my own abilities. It has reminded me of the confidence I felt at the beginning of the year having just finished at Durham and getting a place on my dream course. I find it difficult not to compare myself to others and often feel as though I am not progressing quickly enough. This period has allowed me to reflect on the definite progress I have made so far on this course and has reminded me that I’m on my own journey through this training and I can only do my best!
This term, our year group was tasked with making our own performance material. I have often felt daunted at the prospect of creating my own work, but surprisingly enjoyed being thrown in at the deep end with this challenge! We started a playwriting module which encouraged us to write our own plays, and in our movement class we each created short films in response to paintings we felt inspired by. Added to this, a friend of mine on the Directing MA course asked me to be a part of a devising project. Since March, we have been working on a short film about race and conversations about identity and belonging. It was so special to be a part of this project and to work alongside students from other year groups. When we screened the piece last Wednesday it felt very timely given the current Black Lives Matter movement and following the Isle of Man’s peaceful protest last Tuesday. I was really proud to have been a part of it.
My group’s project this term was Screen and Audio. I was so excited to work on this module as I am such big TV and movie fan, and would love to have the opportunity to work in this medium in the future. I learnt so much about the craft of acting for screen and how this has similarities and differences to performing on stage. We worked on scripts from recent films and developed our own characters from scratch; writing and filming our own scenes and placing our characters in difficult scenarios. Whilst it was a shame to not be able to work in LAMDA’s film and audio studios with their equipment, I’ve learnt a lot about lighting and angles and some great tricks of filming on zoom. I had a few zoom calamities with my cats jumping in through the window and my mum running in mid take! But I had a lot of fun working with my group.
I am just coming to the end of my week of half term, and am about to start another five weeks of online learning. This term we are working on European plays, and are hoping to be back in school to perform these over 2 weeks in July. I have been so impressed with how LAMDA have dealt with these unprecedented circumstances and are working hard to make sure we can all still get the most out of our training. I am excited to see what new creative challenges the next few weeks has in store!
As always, I am so grateful to the Arts Council for all of their support. Thank you!
Saroja Lily Xx