From Jane Miles and Paul Johnson. Workshop Co-ordinators and Directors.

 

This was not just about putting on a piece of theatre. It was about opportunity. The 10 actors had opportunities to try things out they had never done before and play parts which rarely come to pass. In the workshop sessions, enjoyed at our new home Jabba the Hut in High Wych, they experimented in a taster of Stanislavsky’s actions, use of movement, text to performance, status, improvisation, verse speaking ,chorale work, singing and dance which filtered into a performance of Shakespeare’s best loved work. A glorious smorgasbord of Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, smattered with some of the Bard’s finest Sonnets and some very well- known phrases and insults delighted two very appreciative audiences. The feedback was tremendous. 

 

But much better to let the actors themselves tell you about their experience:

“Amaazing!  A fabulous worthwhile experience from which I learned so much and pushed myself to achieve my best.” 

“Exciting challenge that was inspiring, thought-provoking, confidence-building and an education with an amazing climax bringing delight all round.”

“The “Shakespeare in Love” workshop/production proved to be fun, exciting and challenging, although sometimes it was a bit stressful (especially line learning in a condensed workshop/rehearsal period), but overall it was creatively satisfying. It was a real pleasure to work with such a talented and committed team of actors, directors and backstage crew and a joy to explore Shakespeare’s work once more. “

“I have never felt so challenged artistically, and quite so fearful of failure, but this has proved to me that I can do practically anything if I put my mind to it.” 

“The three week workshop put us into a creative, experimental, playful environment giving all of us the opportunity to try new things, make mistakes and grow from them.” 

“The short time we had to present a performance meant we had no time to sit around discussing and talking about it... Instead we had to get on with the practical work and use our imaginations and play to create the end product through ensemble collaboration and guidance from our mentors. 

I would strongly recommend members of all abilities to attend future workshops and take risks to grow!

Seasoned performers and new comers all have something to gain from these experiences.” 

“Many people approach Shakespeare as an impossible task, a wall of impossible text. Unfortunately, I joined the workshop later than most, but what astonished me was how everyone from the most experienced actor to the complete beginner approached the text with ease, excitement and fun. The workshop, with its structured content and direction was able to ‘ ease the anguish of a torturing hour’ (A Midsummer Night’s Dream); a common association when performing Shakespeare. The sole task was not focusing on learning the lines and through games, improvisation and teaching, we were able to find ways to relate to the language. Fundamentally acting is not about being someone different, but about finding the similarities in what is apparently different. Jane and Paul created an amazing workshop, full of support and encouragement and the subsequent confidence and quality of acting in the end production was not only evidence of this - but the friendships formed and element of fun from start to finish made it a memorable and enjoyable experience. Here’s to the next one!”

Review

By Harlow Star Harlow Star  |  Mon 06 Jun 2016

Harlow Theatre Company regulars and stage newcomers did The Bard proud on his birthday with a fun medley performance.

Co-directed by Jane Miles and Paul Johnson, Shakespeare in Love interspersed seven famous comedies with sonnets, facts and insults at Victoria Hall Theatre.

Despite being condensed into 15 minute pieces the cast of 10 perfectly captured the tone of Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing and two scenes from A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Fresh from her turn in Harold Pinter's Betrayal, Alyssa Upton was on particular good form as Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing while Rhys Hayes nailed his contrasting turns as Romeo and Silvius in As You Like It.

Spoken at a quick rate of knots the Shakespearian language was initially challenging to tune into and some of the dialogue was quietly spoken and difficult to make out.

However, the expert direction ensured there was rarely a dull moment and the contrasting plays rolled seamlessly together.

Happy 400th birthday Mr Shakespeare and thank you to HTC for inviting us to such a fun party.

Four stars