Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Alex Spieth talks about her Directing Apprenticeship

Hello from ApC0 Training!
I have been in two previous Apprentice Companies (in 2006 and 2007) and performed in “Macbeth”, “Merry Wives of Windsor”, and “Two Gentlemen of Verona”.

I have loved Apprentice Company and I believe that any actor MUST/SHOULD AUDITION (for the program) because I grew TONS through the experience. This year I auditioned again but this time as Directing Apprentice for “Taming of the Shrew”. I was ecstatic to discover that I would again get to work with such talented actors and receive the incredible training of Apprentice Company, but I was even more excited to look at Shakespeare through another angle, this time of Directing.

Before Apprentice Company, Brenda Sparks (ApCo and Shrew Director) gave fellow ApCo student Markus McClain and I topics (such as “Social History of the late 1960s and 1970s” or “Themes on Taming of the Shrew”) to research and make presentations to help enlighten the actors on the time period and happenings of where and when the show is set and elucidate the textual work.
So away I went to the Library and began the process of research. It felt so good to feel like I was helping serve as dramaturge and maybe was getting the show more grounded about the times on the late 1960s and early 1970s. Once I arrived as an Apprentice on the fateful first Monday of training, I was nervous about feeling a disconnect with the group. I was nervous about being THAT GIRL who arrived with informational posters aplenty for the first day. But under the guidance of Denice (Hicks, Nashville Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director) and Brenda I never felt isolation.

The Directing Apprentices and the Stage Managing Apprentice were encouraged to participate in all activities—Sometimes I felt ungrounded due to my lack of assigned character, but mostly I had the freedom to create a new character each time we did an exercise, actually feeling freed by my lack of text. As Directing Apprentice, I am still able to participate in all of the incredible explorations with monologue work, vocal training, stage combat (with my boy Gus Gillette!), and dancing. Doing training with the acting apprentices firstly helps create a friendly relationship and secondly creates a common language for the show that everyone understands.

Instead of only waiting for my own discoveries about an individual character, I try to watch to discover the other actors make discoveries. I want to be fairly in tune with the characters they create so when the time comes I can help Brenda mold inspiring viewpoints work into THE REAL SHOW! Watching the actors is inspiring, because people I have known for years still shock me with their talent and bold acting choices and people I hadn’t met before create character habits I would never be able to think of. I feel very close to the other apprentices and can’t wait to see them truly take on scenes and create the “Taming”; they are talented beyond belief.

The next part of the plan for me is to work scenes for twenty minutes before Brenda works them onstage at the band shell, to clear up questions on the script and give the actors another set of eyes. We move from Studio A at the Npt Arts Center to Centennial Park next week!

I am so excited to help this wonderful show develop and get to participate in Shakespeare in the Park again (because it makes for WONDERFUL SUMMERS AND TRAINING EXPERIENCE) before heading to college. APCO FOREVER!
Love, Alex