Come and celebrate at The Actors Space, near Barcelona!
We live in a world that is so driven by thought. A world where people sit for hours and hours in front of a computer. What has happened to the expressiveness of the body? This body that has evolved over millions of years which travels through time and space and is driven by life’s essential rhythm?
Masks teach us to communicate through action, to fully inhabit our bodies, to project, to connect with the space and to fully relate with the other.
With expressive mask work the actors visibility is greatly reduced and the senses must work harder. Listening with the whole body is a skill that must be honed and practiced. This heightened awareness opens the door to the here and now. When an actor is open to feeling and responds to the moment something magical happens – dramatic life manifests. A small look, a slow gesture can transport the audience to the realm of the poetic.
When an actor feels, his performance comes alive. Mask work becomes a powerful tool for the training of the actor.
So, just feel it!
The Actors Space – Celebrating 20 years of creativity
BUILDING THE DEFENSES OF PEACE, ITUANGO, COLOMBIA
Here is a blog I’ve written about a documentary we are making for The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) and their Peace Education Program. This program in Colombia is helping people recover in places where war has been present – Marian Masoliver, film maker, teacher and director at The Actors Space.
After 7 hours of winding and slow roads with spectacular mountain views we arrive at our destination late into the night…
Ituango is a village hanging in the lap of a mountain range, indeed in the mountainous region of Antioquia, in deep Colombia. Dark streets (noticeably the electricity here is less present than in the valleys) and rain meet us, the weary travelers.
At dawn this tiny village is already buzzing with life, cowboys riding their horses, endless trucks carrying all sorts of materials, the ‘Jaidukama’, indigenous people that bring incredible color to the village (it takes two walking days to travel to their farms they tell us), and the ‘chivas’, local buses that go as far as there are roads into the wilderness, for the rest of their journey home people travel by mule.
It all creates a wonderful, powerful and rich tapestry of life, full of sound, color and joy.
We spent 4 nights in Ituango. If I had not known what has happened here I would never have guessed. The “Ituanguinos” are very kind, generous people.
But, unlike the urban cities of Colombia, this village has experienced the cruelty of war. Because of it’s geographical position the village has been used and abused for decades by both the guerrilla and the paramilitary, both fighting for power over coca production and drug trafficking.
Our small team from the TPRF are here to run The Peace Education Program (PEP) in the village school. Because of the difficulty getting here PEP is run as an introductory intensive program over three days. What get’s revealed after the three day program is shocking: the terrible reality of war and the thirst for help are so palpable…
And then there is Prem Rawat and his Peace Education program.
“I felt strange, it was like another me. For the first time in my life I have felt Peace and Fulfilment, I have been looking for this for 12 years” says Mercedes, a 15 years old student that attended PEP.
“What Mr, Prem Rawat is doing is an act of altruism. I would like to invite him to sit with victims and perpetuators, we all need to hear his message…there is no enemy because it is our friends and families that have been involved, this war has affected us all…” says a teacher that participated in the program.
I am also blown away by the clarity and wisdom that three 16 years old girls express during the interviews “Peace is within us, and for Peace to manifest in the community we first need to feel it as individuals. We need PEP for our families, for the community, we have all suffered too much.”
We also have the chance to interview the school director who tells us the crude facts of the war that she has had to survive. “PEP was a big thing for us, it was wonderful… we’ve been alone, without any help to heal, the teachers need help so they can teach well, their mental and emotional health need attention. PEP can help a lot. We are experts of war but we do not know about Peace…”.
At night, the “Rancheras” play loudly in every tavern, the streets are full of young people, couples, kids and families…
The only ‘disturbance’ for us is the van that wakes us up very morning at 5am announcing the 5:30h mass for the villagers on loud speakers.
But it is also clear that faith has helped these people in times where there was nothing else to hold onto.
And as we say goodbye I feel the sadness of the people, they express that they want to learn more from Prem Rawat.
The will of this people to prosper, in the middle of such difficulty, to go forward and the insistence of Joy itself after the darkest times has made a powerful impact on me.
See related blog From Fiction to Facts
Marian Masoliver from Ituango, Colombia.
In my life I am moving and evolving… dancing and flirting with acting, teaching actors, directing actors, script writing and now documentary/film making. It’s fascinating. And as I move and shift and jump from fiction to facts, from facts to fiction I realise that it is all the same thing… It’s about sharing truth. Because, like the elements, some things just are. To make a good documentry, just as to make a good show, structure is needed. These are some of the things we look at:
We are born, we exist, we die. Three act structure. Aristotil made the connection, he understood about the drama of life…
I am about to go to Colombia to shoot a documentary called ‘Process of Peace’. I’ll be talking to ex-combatents and victims of the war that are trying to get back on their feet with the help of the ‘Peace Education Program’.
Here is a link to the trailer of the documentary we made in Ecuador about Gang Members moving from crime to doing social projects
And then, two months later, when I get back I’ll be teaching at The Actors Space on the International Summer Theatre & Film Workshops for actors and directors.
And every time it is new. Fresh, exciting, like every single breath…full of life!
Here are three thoughts for aspiring artists:
1/Learn from the best or from those that feel right to you.
2/Practice your art, experience it!
3/Trust your self and enjoy.
And here is book for those who want to write but don’t know where to start form by Natalie Goldberg ‘Writing down the bones’. I suggest you read it slowly, like eating a good meal, savouring each mouthful. It’s a short, easy to read book and it’s so potent that, like a good session of love making, it is good to make it last.
OK, I am done for today, if you fancy exploring your creativity and learning techniques as an actor or director you can come to The Actors Space this summer. The Screen Acting Workshop is fully booked (waiting list only). Only 4 places lefty on The Directing Performance Workshop. Places available on the other Theatre acting and directing workshops.
Wishing you the best creative life.
Last summer was my first time at the Actors Space doing ‘The Art of Comedy’ and it was for many reasons the most magical and constructive experience. In this generous, safe place that Marian & Simon have made, I learned to strip away my judgment and quieten my overthinking in order to really listen and react in the moment. To trust my instinct and to make brilliant ‘mistakes’.
I sometimes find the idea of remembering the joy a little silly, I create because I love to. But actually so often day to day and specifically in auditions since the workshop I find myself actively making the decision to relax, to have fun and to revel in playing. It’s a treat.
The course has given me the confidence to begin to create my own work and further explore my clown. It’s exciting. It has made my approach to working with others far less fearful. The wonderful structure of the course, the intelligent and spot on teaching and the beautiful setting made for a hugely positive time. I really couldn’t recommend it more. Thank you to the Actors Space. Words will not do you justice but you have stayed with me and I will be back.
Anna Brooks-Beckman, UK
I first discovered The Actors Space whilst on The Certificate of Higher Education course at East 15 Acting School. Whilst there I became interested in a more physically expressive approach to theatre, one where the emphasis is on visual storytelling and movement. I was recommended The Actors Space by a friend of mine who is currently on the BA Physical Theatre course at East 15 and who had been on The Creative Actor course the previous year. He praised The Actors Space for being an extraordinary place for actor training and for creative freedom and liberation. Eager to gain knowledge and experience in this newly found form of theatre I enrolled on The Creative Actor workshop in July 2016. Whilst there, I learnt more about being an artist than I ever thought possible. The Creative Actor course gave me the space to explore my creativity and allowed me freedom to discover new areas of my art without restrictions, whilst in an encouraging and open environment.
Upon arriving at The Actors Space I was taken aback by the picturesque location of the Catalan countryside and the beautiful 16th century farmhouse where I would be creating theatre and living in for the week. Because the workshop is residential, there is a special trust and bond that is made between all the participants, which was essential when creating this kind of collaborative work with an ensemble of actors. Being interested in the teachings of Jacques Lecoq, I was excited that the course focussed primarily on the techniques he developed and that the teachers, Marian and Simon, both were taught by Jacques Lecoq at his international school in Paris. Marian and Simon nurture every participant to help their individual creativity flourish. Not only is your deepest imagination enriched every day, they guide you on your own artistic journey with their 20 years of professional experience and their passion for what they do. Over the week, they constantly encouraged me to challenge myself, take risks and explore new avenues of creative expression in my art, which in turn allowed me to discover new things about myself and the field I am passionate about.
The course is very intense, but nonetheless, fun. Meaning there was a lot that was covered in such a short space of time. This included Mask Theatre (Neutral mask and mask making during the evenings), the observation and Re-Play of Daily Life to create truth and authenticity whilst on stage, The Child which allowed us to be imaginative and playful to create endless possibilities in our work, which finally developed into devising our own dramatic and comic scenes and situations. Whilst all along finding the poetic depths to our work and asking ourselves, “What is it we want to say?
I was able to take all the skills and techniques I had learnt whilst at The Actors Space back home and put them into practice. The overall experience was empowering and I feel very privileged and grateful for having had this experience. I cannot recommend this course (and The Actors Space in general) enough. For anyone wanting to explore their full physical potential as a performer, learn new techniques and skills or to generally rediscover their passion for acting (and life) – you will not be disappointed and I can guarantee anyone who embarks on their journey here will make everlasting friendships, have the time of their life and will want to return. I know I will definitely be returning again.
Chantelle Oddie, UK.
Find out about The Creative Actor Workshop
THE CREATIVE ACTOR: “For me, it was one of the most worthwhile weeks of my life and I certainly plan to return next year”. Sheyla Sly.
SCREEN ACTING: Thoroughly enjoyed the Screen Acting workshop! I learnt so much and I felt I developed a part of me I did not know existed. It has helped me prepare for an audition which I was successful in getting. Fantastic direction from Simon and Marian and an absolutely beautiful place to be learning in”. Tara Hodgson
ART OF COMEDY “The wonderful structure of the course, the intelligent and spot on teaching and the beautiful setting made for a hugely positive time. I really couldn’t recommend it more. Thank you to the Actors Space!”. Anna Brooks-Beckman
DIRECTING PERFORMANCE “My senses were filled, my creativity re-ignited and energised. I discovered skills i didn’t know i had. Marian and Simon create a safe non judgmental, yet growth environment that allows each student to feel they are contributing something. I absolutely loved it”. Janine Hardy.
Two great female Comics!
Emily Sly (the one on the right).
“…the training offered by Marian and Simon was excellent. I really took to the feedback style and the direct approach as I found it really clear and easy to understand:- when something was working we knew why it worked and if it wasn’t funny or it wasn’t truthful we knew why it didn’t work. The course was perfectly structured over the week with well thought out exercises and challenges that took you on a journey into comedy and clowning. I would definitely recommend the Actors Space to anyone who is seeking to develop their skills, it was great fun and good value for money, I hope to return soon”.
Jane Allanach (the one on the left).
“I will definitely return to The Actors Space and the expertise and sincere hospitality of Marian and Simon. I feel enormously privileged and fortunate to have found this unique and wonderful artistic haven”.
Jane Allanach (the one on the left in the video).
“Four months on from The Art of Comedy Course at The Actors Space, I still feel full and blessed!
I spent eight wonderful days, although not without sweat and tears, in Marian and Simon’s beautiful farm house/studio – nestled in the pretty, peaceful Catalan hillside. If I’m painting a picture of perfection, that’s because (if such a thing exists) it’s what it felt like. From the outset, being met at the station by our hosts, and meeting up with the rest of the actors, I experienced the warmth and trust that so often comes with a group of people brought together for a common cause – to be creative and have fun!
The course itself was demanding, but was delivered to us in a way in which each exercise built on the previous one, and meant that everyone’s journey, to find their clown, was one of personal discovery. It was very emotional at times because ‘finding your clown’ means making yourself vulnerable (although always within the safety of the group and Marian and Simon’s watchful and nurturing eye).
To begin with, I found it difficult due to feelings of unfunniness, and too much censorship of myself. However, as the week went on, and I learnt to play the situation and not the idea, and to trust myself to do less, not more – it became easier. Also beginning with a half mask and progressing to red nose and ultimately no nose was hugely successful.
Since returning from the Actors Space, I have used the skills I’ve learnt to teach others. I work with a group of adults who have all accessed mental health services at some point. We come together once a week and make theatre. During the past term we have being doing half mask work concentrating on isolating the action, not stealing the focus, and being very clear with the ‘story’ we are telling – a cheerful festive account of a dysfunctional family and an alcoholic Father Christmas! It’s been very positive for a lot of the group who feel that the mask adds a layer of protection to them as performers, liberating them to use much more of their physicality than they would otherwise.
I will definitely return to The Actors Space and the sincere hospitality and expertise of Marian and Simon. I feel enormously privileged and fortunate to have found this unique and wonderful artistic haven”.
Emily Sly (the one on the right in the video).
“I first discovered the Actors Space when my mum returned from participating in The Creative Actor course, she was raving about how brilliant it had been and recommended I booked in for the following year. As a professional actor I often find it hard to book things in advanced due to my uncertain schedule and so without further ado I booked my place on the Art of Comedy course and flew out to Spain the next day.
Thankfully my ‘spur of the moment’ decision paid off, I arrived a little after the course had started but was welcomed in by Marian, Simon and the participants and soon felt part of the family.
I was attracted to The Art of Comedy workshop in particular as I wanted to deepen my understanding of the Lecoq method with a view to studying physical theatre as an MA and I have to say I was not disappointed, the training offered by Marian and Simon was excellent. I really took to the feedback style and Simons direct approach as I found it really clear and easy to understand:- when something was working we knew why it worked and if it wasn’t funny or it wasn’t truthful we knew why it didn’t work. The course was perfectly structured over the week with well thought out exercises and challenges that took you on a journey into comedy and clowning.
Since the course I have continued to use the techniques I learnt at the Actors Space in my professional work as an actor with Blunderbus Theatre Company and in particular in my work with refugees as a clown volunteer with The Flying Seagull Project in Greece. I would definitely recommend the Actors Space to anyone who is seeking to develop their skills, it was great fun and good value for money, I hope to return soon”.
Marian Masoliver, teacher, talks about the pedagogy involved in the training.
What I like most about our pedagogy is that it nurtures the creativity of the performer and places the actor at the centre of dramatic creation. What is essential in the training is to get the participant to engage with ‘Le Jeu’ (or ‘Play’). Lecoq defines ‘Le Jeu’- “When, aware of the theatrical dimension, the actor can shape an improvisation for spectators using rhythm, tempo, space and form”.
‘Play’ is connected with making the most of any particular moment dramatically. It is about rendering the moment fully into life on stage. To achieve this the actor has to train their body, imagination and creativity. We do this by exploring the actors dramatic and comic presence and the nature and dynamics of conflict; The push and the pull, contraction and expansion, crescendo, rhythm, space, event… The work focusses in like a microscope to reveal the essence of comic/dramatic situation. We work with the ‘motor’ of each scene. With this awareness the actor is free to play.
Also, we ask the question “What do you want to say”? To develop style with no content is a fruitless act. We encourage artistic risks to be taken and together we seek poetic depths to be explored. We are after all creating work that mirrors life itself.
We are practitioners who teach. The techniques we share at the Actors Space have been developed from over 50 years of combined professional experience as actors, directors and teachers. What we offer is hands on physical theatre and screen actor training which at it’s core, is inspired by working with Jacques Lecoq at his international school in Paris.
Ultimately our aim is to empower the actor to create meaningful work. We do this by developing their understanding of all the elements involved, the writing, direction and acting. We call this the ‘creative triangle’.