My trip consisted of a week stopover in New York, just under two months in the UK, a spontaneous digression in Venice (felt obliged to strike out somewhere else in Europe, being so ridiculously close), and a week between Amiens and Paris. My application for the award, and the main purposes of my trip, consisted of encountering different rehearsal methodologies, exposure to the work (and standard of work) currently being produced in the UK, and research into ways in which theatrical magic and narrative-driven theatre can interface more often and more effectively. In addition, fortuitously, just before my trip, the Bell Shakespeare Company had cast me in their upcoming production of Henry V, which was to begin rehearsals two weeks after I returned. I was therefore provided the rare opportunity of researching the play in the country in which it was first performed, and in the locations in which it takes place.
Lexi Sekuless, a former BBM Award recipient, was immeasurably helpful in suggesting companies, offering theatre advice, and generally giving some focus to my London theatre-going pursuits. Lexi also put me in touch with Jess Chambers, whom she met while they were both studying at the Central School of Speech and Drama, and who was just about to commence work as our voice and dialect coach on Henry V. Jeff Janisheski, Head of Acting at NIDA, and Katerina Moraitis, Head of Voice at same, were both instrumental in connecting me with directors, companies, and teachers, and suggesting ports of call and essential pilgrimages. Up front, this was my first experience travelling solo for any extended period of time, and the first determining my own itinerary. Flexibility, and having no one to blame but myself for unforseen errors and miscalculations, were two major thrills. STA Travel at Bondi Junction talked me through the pros and cons of a direct flight vs. an around the world ticket, and put up with my pedantic questions and vacillation. I’d recommend them, or any STA Travel branch, for all your flight-booking, itinerary-crafting needs. New York was just incredible; to be walking through Central Park, breakfast in hand, in the snow, past the Delacorte Theatre and Bethesda Fountain (the obligatory Tony Kushner pilgrimage)… surreal, to say the least.
Had a lovely lunch with Paul Peers, an opera and theatre director who works in the US and Canada, at Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop near the Flatiron Building, who brought me up to speed on exciting work happening both around New York and in London. I was also able to observe Suzuki and Viewpoints rehearsals at SITI Company; their work struck me as like the relationship between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems – extraordinary technical precision and discipline, but simultaneously completely spontaneous, open, playful. They both need to be in play, unconsciously; committed, precise, but not held or tense, knowing you will respond in the ‘right’, fullest way, no matter what. While we’re here, just on the point of observation: nearly every company, director, theatre and institution I contacted was accommodating, and very happy to answer my questions and in many cases take time to meet face-to-face. My advice: always reach out and ask. You never know where it will lead.Update Your Details