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Bell Shakespeare Works With Third Year Students

About Reflections on Literature, Life and the Imagination

Previous Entry Bell Shakespeare Works With Third Year Students May. 15th, 2009 @ 11:28 am Next Entry
What a fabulous experience we had this week with Matt Edgerton, actor with the Bell Shakespeare Company working with my third year Shakespeare students. For the past 10 weeks I have been preaching the gospel of William Shakespeare, telling about his amazing ideas on life, his fabulous creative power, his extraordinary harnessing of the intellectual and aesthetic energies of the Renaissance... and then enter Matt!!! He brought a way of experiencing the force of this man's genius in our bodies.
Matt is in the centre of this pic... directly under the clock. Click thrice to see if you can recognize him from the theatre or TV:

Shakespeare for Matt is not some untouchable God out there to be bowed down to, but rather a man speaking to men and women through their own life experience. Here was Matt taking us through the postures and gestures, the voice intonations from whispers to shouts, the physical arrangements of our own Shakespeare extracts.... teaching us, showing us, how to make Shakespeare our own and how we, as individuals, really had something to offer in the process of bringing Shakespeare to life.

Matt's current guru is Declan Donnellan. Donnellan is the theorist and practitioner who brought a Russian Company to Australia to do 12th Night in Russian for the Sydney Festival. His best book is "The Actor and the Target", a seminal book that is a great acting book as well as fabulous exploration of the language of drama, including Shakespeare. Declan talks about the idea that there is always a target for the actor to relate to:

As Matt explained, this is a way of taking the focus off ourselves and experiencing our relationship to something out there, for example: Macbeth's imaginary dagger; Romeo's Juliet... always there is this external target that invites us into our true performance... it is always there, always transformative and it is always changing.... For Matt, acting is a process of reacting or responding to something outside of us. Declan provides some fabulous ideas to help us in our performances. Especially he has this idea that "The target exists before you need it" ... the target is there already... you don't need to conjure it up, it is there waiting for you. This is an idea that can take so much pressure off us as we wait to play our roles... we simply have to follow what is out there, drawing us towards it.... Check out these links to Declan
And if you want to find out more about Matt Edgerton, his background and training please have a look at http://www.bellshakespeare.com.au/bellMain2009/company/directors/framesetDirectors.htm-
scroll down till you find MATT EDGERTON, DIRECTOR- ACTORS AT WORK.
If you want to hear the whole of Matt's lecture please go to your Blackboard unit and look it up there.
If you want to find out more about Bell Shakespeare then please go to:

Enjoy your now truly animated preparations for your Shakespearean presentations next week! I can hardly wait.....
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Date:May 16th, 2009 08:46 am (UTC)
Hi MG, thanks again for organising Matt for us. Great to see the pics on livejournal which is so useful and great....:)
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Date:May 19th, 2009 03:54 am (UTC)
Yeah, Thanks MG.
It was a really rewarding experience. The whole 'target' idea that Matt brought up was completely new to me. It really is essential to perform Shakespeare to get a better grasp on him and it's great to have had the opportunity to learn from a professional.

Date:June 12th, 2009 10:59 am (UTC)
wow, just having a look at your blog pa - haven't for a while! Ayway, aside from the amazing (and well earned) support for your blending of technology & teaching - am so jealous that you had your students working with Matt - you know how much I love the Bell Shakespeare folk!
jealous - badly....BUT, i did start a blog...sort of lame at the moment, but hopefully it'll improve!

Han xx
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