Monday, 29 July 2013

Palatsi Course, Day 1

It's been a while since my last post! And in the meantime my blog has reached exatly 1111 page views (the last time I checked at least) The baffling reason for that is, once again, the weather which is much too nice for sitting and typing! But now I'll be posting at least five days in a row because there's something interesting going on: I'm attending a course in musical theatre and I'll be keeping a course diary in here.

A little background info first. Five years ago, a small theatre in Tampere was re-opened and named Musiikkiteatteri Palatsi (=music theatre Palace) . While it had been built in the 20s as a place to show silent films with live music, it now produces musical theatre productions in a dinner theatre format. They also run a musical theatre school, and it's a summer course by this school that I'll be attending this week. During the course we're going to rehearse some acting scenes, songs and choreographies and then put together a sort of "demo" performance on the last day.

Okay, so today was the first day. First of course we were introduced to the teachers – there are three of them, for acting, singing and dancing. Then we went to see the actual stage where we'd be rehearsing and performing. I'd never seen a stage like that before, kind of small and cute, with a staircase in the middle and "Juliet" balconies on both sides.

While we were warming up before getting down to actual work, I realized I'd been suffering from severe stage-deprivation during the last couple of years between high school and present day – I never regarded myself as a big spotlight addict, but today it felt really nice to get up on a stage and do things! And during the vocal warm-ups we learned some really interesting stuff about how singing works, including a short discussion on the limitations of under-16-year-old voices which makes the morality of child singer industry very questionable.

After lunch, we got down to real business and started rehearsing one of the songs we'll be performing as a group on the final day: I Wanna Be Like You from Disney's The Jungle Book. You know, the one where the orange monkey wants to be like a human. Seems like my new hobby of memorizing (mostly show tune) song lyrics has paid off because I had the lyrics down pretty quick even though I'd never before taken a look at this song.

But then it all got so much more complicated when we started learning the choreography to go with the song. Okay so I went to a dance school for some years when I was a kid, but I quit ten years ago and dancing was never my thing. Therefore I was expecting the dancing part to be the most challenging for me, which it was, but it was also so much fun! It's funny how just having some background music makes even sweating so much more enjoyable. We'll be using suitcases as props when we dance and there's this one really cool part where I change suitcases with another girl – I slide mine to her and she throws hers at me. Surprisingly, I didn't drop that big scary suitcase once even though I'm usually very untalented at catching stuff. I learned to respect musical actors even more than I already did, because even when you think you know some lyrics by heart, it's damn hard to make them come out when you're supposed to dance at the same time...

The acting part of the course is going to be three scenes from Wicked, one of them being a big group scene with all of us on stage, and then two smaller ones. When the acting teacher announced who was going to play which part, it turned out that... I had somehow been glossed over in the casting process and I didn't have anything to play! However, that was quickly fixed. I'll simply get to write my own monologue in the scene where Galinda is trying to teach Elphaba about popularity! I'll get to try my hand at play-writing, which has always been a huge interest for me and which I'm now aiming to do for a living one day – awesome!

So all in all, a hard-working but also happy and rewarding day. Can't wait for tomorrow. There's still a handful of choreographies to learn and songs to sing...

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