Acting workshop: ‘Exploring the text’



Firedoor Theatre runs weekly Wednesday/ acting workshops at a top secret city centre location (top secret as due to overwhelming demand, availability is limited – if more than the optimum numbers of people attend then the workshops become too crowded, which the group endeavours to prevent). I used to be the organiser of these workshops – in other words I would maintain the schedule, by booking a workshop facilitator approximately six weeks in advance; and then on the preceding Monday I would verify that they were still set for the Wednesday event. Those who cancelled several weeks in advance were readily forgiven; those who never responded to my last minute pleas for confirmation were never booked by me again. I’m like a vengeful elephant – I never forget.

The vast majority of facilitators attended on time and in full and have given us a series of entertaining and fulfilling workshops. The subjects can vary week to week – the Meisner Technique (apparently this dude is major when it comes to acting technique but I can never precisely remember what his methods are or what for). Other subjects are clowning; use of voice; audition workshops and the whole plethora of activities that make up the world of theatre.

I have since moved into the glamourous world of Firedoor PR, where I am honing my skills in the art of air-kissing and asking people who they are wearing, while telling them how brave they are.

The workshops continue without me of course. They now operate on a four week bloc basis – in other words, a theme is chosen and a facilitator who is an expert in that field gives the series of classes. Each week the topic in question is explored in a deeper manner. It’s effective as you get more of an insight into a specific area of the theatre, and a chance week on week to develop these new skills. Luckily they are structured in such a way that while it is advantageous to attend all classes in the series, it is not essential – if I only attend on week three or four then I am not going to discover my classmates have developed a skill like the ability levitate in my absence.

Last night was week one in a four week series called ‘Exploring the text’. The facilitator was Aislinn Ni Uallachain of the Flying Turtle Theatre Group. The theme of this series is given in the name – interpreting scripts and how to maximise them to give the most effective performance.

It was great fun. Last night we were divided into pairs and each assigned a character – Little Red Riding Hood or The Big Bad Wolf. One of my friends gave a brave, resigned sigh. At the age of six years of age she had her first starring role as Little Red Riding Hood in a primary school play. She gave that character her everything. What could she possibly learn about the motivations of this granny loving character. Quite a lot actually.

It was an interesting exercise to try to think outside the linear narrative presented by a script and to offer an interpretation not immediately apparent in the script. (That last sentence is my semi-successful attempt to avoid using the expression ‘Thinking outside the box’ as that is phrase that has no placed in the vocabulary of a respectable person).

The workshops are well worth checking out – I am looking forward to weeks two to four,  expecting to find them useful for those of us who will be involved in my almost written new play (draft one of which is almost complete – further information on this new project on a later date.)


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