Study Acting & Performance Skills with our Oxford Summer School 2017 | Students aged 16-18

Also available for students aged 13-15.

Class Summary

This Acting and Performance course will give students an overview and a ‘taster’ of the fundamental skills and techniques that are used by actors on both stage and screen. Students will explore essential body, voice and acting skills through the medium of skill-based improvisation. This is a form of improvisation devised by the originator of theatre improvisation, Viola Spolin, and unlike many forms of improvisation does not have its focus on ‘performance’.

Instead, students will focus on skill development for all aspects of theatre work; voice, body, characterisation, blocking/use of the stage, stage crafts, motivation and emotion. A non-judgemental approach to acting is encouraged on this course – where it is not encouraged to see things in terms of ‘good and bad’ or ‘right and wrong’ but rather to promote intuition, imagination, problem solving and freedom of action (both internal and external/physical), which will give all students on the course a sense of confidence, and is designed to bring out true potential, however hidden. The influences on the techniques used in this course are derived not just from Spolin but also from Konstantin Stanislavski, Uta Hagen, Michael Shurtleff and Augusto Boal.

Over the two-week duration of this course, students will also work on a short scene or monologue chosen from classical or modern theatre in addition to the skill development that will be the primary aim of the course. On the final Friday these will be performed to the rest of the class who will offer feedback. Students will be immersed in theatrical techniques early on so that they are free to explore both modern and traditional English drama. These performance techniques are exercised so that students can apply these skills to the scene studies; in this way, the two parts of the course complement and feed off each other.

The short scenes or monologues that students will address cover a very broad cross-section of the British theatre, so whichever skills and styles a student wishes to focus on, they are sure to find some application in the final performance. Playwrights include Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Harold Pinter, Michael Frayn, and Willy Russell alongside lesser-known writers whose writing is similarly enjoyable and exciting.

Expectations/Prerequisites

All classes are active and require the student to be fully engaged both in exercises and feedback, creative input etc. However, as the course focuses on building confidence and drawing out latent talent, students need have no prior experience of acting; furthermore, the course assumes little or no knowledge of English drama. As movement is an essential part of the kind of improvisation practised on this course, students will need to wear loose and comfortable clothing (no skirts).