We're creeping to the end of this magnificent week with Barbara Houseman - one of the worlds best voice coaches and humans. Day 5 reflections from some of the group here at Bodlondeb Studio & Retreat.
Yesterday was a thorough look into ways to combat so many different vocal and physical blocks an actor may encounter. I could see how all these exercises be utilized in my own practice. This meant I made so many notes while watching Barbara work with others! I never got bored watching everyone work thats for sure. I am so thankful for this experience. We have created such a genuinely non-judgmental space and everyone gives there 100% will and focus to progressing and being open. This gave me the confidence to do this also when it was my time to work on my blocks around a particularly difficult piece of text. Something I enjoyed was that we never clapped for each other. There was never a pressure to applaude a peice of work. We, where appropriate, just expressed our genuine feeling and observations and I felt that then created a very calm and honest atmosphere. And swimming, even when I really hate every moment of the water, it makes me look for that human connection and that little patch of sun on the water that makes it bearable.
I chose a speech and a song that I idolised from seeing another amazing actress perform. That idolatry had shut them off to me completely as out of my league yet I know a younger me has the opposite response and wants to get in and play with them without comparison. Over the years I have lost the ability to be able to sing fully in front of others. Even singing in the shower or house has stopped after my neighbour commented. But I trusted myself and this group so much that I gave it a go and with much encouragement from Barbara I sang with my full voice, shakes, pitching problems and all, without stopping and I bloody loved it.
Putting into practice all the breath work we’ve done to apply it to text and actually feeling the words come from my abdomen rather than my throat. Oh what a feeling!! Today I surprised myself over and over - I stayed connected through my whole monologue (Lady Macbeth) without pulling myself out of it or cringing at myself. It’s a very challenging piece for me and I fear people seeing through me or thinking it’s too stage-y or untruthful. Today I just didn’t take that fear onstage with me, focused on staying connected and grounded, and produced work I was actually really proud of. Not only that, but, as a wild swimming newbie and lifelong avoider of public nakedness, I had my first ever nudey swim. And it just felt right. That’s how much trust there is in this group 🥰