Thursday, July 31, 2008

Apprentice Company Training - Week Two

Nashville Shakespeare Festival Apprentice Company

Apprentice Company members take a break during stage combat boot camp.

The second week of Apprentice Company training led us one long van ride out of Nashville to Westmoreland, the home of Roy Cox, our fight choreographer. Imagine the biggest, baddest, most intimidating man you can think of. Now, give him a beard and a great sense of humor. That’s Uncle Roy, a Marine and ten time world jousting champion. Last Monday and Tuesday the Apprentice Company and the adult staff worked with Roy, learning hand-to-hand, staff, and club stage combat. With the combined companies moving in unison to Roy's instructions, it looked like we had a real Roman army on our hands. We even got to choreograph some one-on-one fights of our own! Uncle Roy deserves a big hand for all his hospitality and teachings over the course of our combat training.

On Wednesday, we had the privilege of working with Christopher Brown, Coriolanus himself, on sound production. We had worked previously on communicating through body movement and position using the techniques Claire Syler (Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s Education Director) and Denice Hicks (Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s Artistic Director), had taught us, but communicating through man-made percussion and vocal production was a pretty new experience. We created scenes based on death, judgment, battle, and animals. He then taught us a Stanislavsky technique of warming up the mind and body known as “The Cat”, a series of fierce body movements and sounds meant to both center and limber up the body. I've been trying to do it at least once a day, but I just can't get past the standing frog move! It was a lot of fun working with Chris. Working with and learning from seasoned actors is one of my favorite things about my Apprentice Company training.

Thursday was the Apprentice Company's dress rehearsal for the unveiling of our monologues. We practiced introducing ourselves to our audience before delivering. We then presented our monologues to the entire Apprentice Company and received praise and constructive criticism. Chris Brown was even able to come in for a bit and watch some of us. Friday was show time, the lifting of the curtain to show off our monologues to an audience of parents, Nashville Shakespeare Festival staff, board members and Apprentice Company alumni. Everybody gave a great show and gave it their all when it came time to present. A celebration was in order! The after party was a great reunion of past Apprentice Company members with current, and with sugary snacks galore. There was a powerful feeling of brotherhood and camaraderie between the Apprentices that I won't forget. We've worked, played, bared our souls, and formed great friendships together over the past two weeks. I wouldn't trade this experience for the world.

And so, our Apprentice Company training ends! We received Apprentice Company certificates and some really awesome Coriolanus t-shirts, with “Apprentice Company” written on the back to commemorate our training and special place in the show. So, 50+ hours down, 175+ hours to go. The training may be over, but the show is just beginning! We move to Centennial Park Monday to join with the adult cast and start rehearsals in earnest.

- J.R. Knowles, Rising Senior at Wilson Central High School

Thanks, Whole Foods and Vitamin Water!Special thanks to Whole Foods for a hot lunch and snacks for everyone and to Vitamin Water for keeping everyone hydrated! See the Apprentice Company students perform their monologues at WHOLE FOODS GREEN HILLS this Sunday, August 3, from 3 p.m. - 4 p.m.