2nd year

Acting Technique:

The emphasis in the 2nd year is on focusing the student’s being – (sensing, thinking, ituiting and feeling) towards active doing in a dramatic context.

Exercises address character building, scene study and exploring plays from different genres to ensure that the techniques studied can be applied with authenticity and commitment to texts written in a variety of styles and from different eras. Script and character analysis go hand in hand with practical rehearsal exercises, honing the student’s ability to invest their individual crative potential while respecting the requirements of each specific play.

We strive towards the truthful and brave creation of characters, with all the physical, vocal and attitudinal transformation that best serve whatever play the character inhabits, enabling the student to make credible and honest character choices based on detailed research as well as their own intuition and courage to use themselves in the development of their characters.

Production

During the year, a number of showings of the students’ work are arranged for the rest of the school. The 2nd year ends with the production of a play, which is performed 6 – 8 times for an invited audience.

In the 2nd Year, the student is continually challenged to push him-/herself both physically and mentally in order to further challenge habitual self perception and conventional acting choices, while all the time learning to systematize specific tools, experiences and insight gained throughout the year. The training enables the performer to draw from the intuitive creative force, which is distinctive to him/her, and consciously harness it in a specific artistic form.

Each student is supervised carefully by a panel of teachers and on a regular basis has individual interviews with the leading teachers about his/her personal and artistic development.

2nd year - The training

Singing

We work on opening up and freeing the voice as organic resonance, rather than a beautified kind of singing.

We focus on expanding the vocal qualities and registers of each student in order that the singing voice and the content of a given song be rooted in the individual. We explore and interpret the content of different songs, aiming to steer clear of cliché and imitating possible musical idols. Conversely, we strive to implement the same principles of authentic expressivity applying to acting technique and the physical training. Furthermore, we examine the correlation between voice and bodily movement, corresponding with core elements of the Movement Psychology classes. In 2nd and 3rd Year, we increasingly focus on expanding and implementing the individual student’s organic vocal sound and qualities in a dramatic context, thereby bridging the singing classes with his/her stage performances

Voice Training

The acoustics of the voice and speaking are an organic extension of our individual personalities.

We focus on the breathing, posture and bodily support, thereby anchoring the speaking voice in the body. Having become confident with the free flow of the voice from the body, the actor gradually enables him/herself to inhabit a character both in terms of voice qualities and articulation. In 2nd and 3rd Year, we work increasingly with expanding and implementing each student’s organic vocal qualities in a dramatic context, thereby bridging the voice class with the student’s stage performances

Movement Psychology

In the 2nd and 3rd Year, we work purposefully with implementing the fundamental physical training within the Laban/Malmgren technique, obtained during the previous training, in the character transformation, the ensemble work, and a specific scenic language.

We seek for the student to have a personal experience of transcendence, i.e. surpassing his/her habitual perception of Self in a state of flow (”the creative state of mind”), through this physical/intuitive exploration of character, scene and performance, and yielding his/her performance to the greater picture as an correlative component in an ensemble composition. We work continually with expanding each student’s physical/mental comfort zones and creative adroitness in reciprocation with scene partner(s), ensemble and audience.

Dance

We continue to work with Classical Ballet as a foundation for Contemporary Techniques with increased focus on musicality, dynamics and expressive quality.

The Dance classes are taught by choreographer and dancer Henriette Lange. They consist of both Classical Ballet, Contemporary Technique and Improvisation. The aim of the class is to give a strong technical base and body awareness, and to experience the body-mind connection through dance. Henriette Lange has developed her own dance training methods, and specialised them for actors. They’re inspired by various techniques, in particular Horton, Cunningham, Gaga and Classical Ballet. The class has a high focus on the individual, working on weaknesses and strengths, and unlocking the unique movement potential of each students at whatever level he/she is at.

All classes incorporate bar and floor work, exercises through the space, and rehearsing specific choreographies. We always focus on relating to music, including the music of the body.

In the 2nd and 3rd Year, we work with an increasing choreographic complexity, dealing with both character and dramatic storytelling as an integral part of choreography.

Movement

The MOVEMENT classes at CISPA are closely linked to the MOVEMENT PSYCHOLOGY classes (Laban/Malmgren technique).

Mainly, we train our core strength, stamina, honing the senses, quality of movement and  undergo a systematic training of the the actor’s expressivity within the different spatial dimensions. A training of physical scales, equivalent of the bar work of the ballet dancer, or the piano scales of the pianist. The movement classes run continually throughout all 3 years of training.

Theatre History

The Theatre History class is both analytical and practical in its approach.

We research and work with all theatre historical periods from Greek Tragedy to Modernism. With historical factuality as the starting point, we constantly put our research into perspectives relating to what it means to us as actors and artists today. In addition, we work with dramatic scenes from all periods and genres, aiming to make all tuition practically applicable and inspiring for the actor.

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Text and Performance Analysis

This course aims at encouraging and developing both analytical thinking and creative synthesis by connecting them, and creating a learning environment that merges the two processes to inspire each other. In some cases, we start from analysis of different texts and performances and progresses towards creating own texts and scenes, in other cases we start from creating own texts and scenes and analysing them afterwards.

Creation and reflection, self-reflection get organically connected in a two-way process.

Outcome:

  • students can read both theoretical and dramatic texts with confidence in analysing, reflecting on them, they can make their own choices and give proper argumentation when selecting a dramatic text and can appreciate and use as source of inspiration a theoretical text,
  • students understand components and interdependence of the elements of a performance, they can deconstruct and reflect, also re/create discourses on them, they use effectively tools for understanding performing arts and are confident in their taste and judgement,
  • students can create their own texts: scenes, performative texts, essays, studies, having a solid understanding of the genres and their cross-overs and flexibility as well,
  • students can create with confidence their scenes, being aware and self-reflective about their choices of creative voice, genre, cross-over genre and performative tools.

Character Object Exercises

The Character Object Exercises build on the Object Exercises of the 1st Year, which explored the actor’s organic transformation into a variety of dramatic characters. Through creating the character’s world, and the physical activities that he/she might be doing outside of the play, the actor explores his/her essential characteristics, objectives and super-objectives.

In the 2nd and 3rd Year, while still exploring these essentials, the exercises are further developed towards independent, artistic scenarios, which might involve an increasing degree of abstraction with regards to conceptualisation, aesthetics and scenic language. The actor may make use of different media and (cross-disciplinary) means of expression.

Apart from still being an essential part of the character exploration, these scenarios may be developed into autonomous performance pieces, or used in part or in full in the production that is being rehearsed for and staged.

Rhetoric

The substance of every performance should be the actor’s organic creativity. But this substance needs a specific artistic form. The word, the lines, the structure of a given text and the conscious delivery of that text are examples of specific form. In other words: oratorical skills – or rhetoric – are important tools for the actor.

Like a brilliant politician, priest, solicitor, or dictator seducing their audiences, the actor, through his/her character, attempts to influence and seduce the other characters (and his/her audience). One of the most important means of seduction (though not the only!) is rhetoric.

We start out with speeches written by the students themselves, and practice different rhetorical principles and means. Subsequently, we apply this knowledge to dramatic characters and scenes, especially from classical drama by Shakespeare and Molière.

Classical Text

Mainly, we work with arguably the greatest playwright of them all: SHAKESPEARE.

We approach his texts and characters with respect, but no awe, working with rhetoric and style as well as an authentic/organic expression. The heightened, lyrical text and the larger-than-life characters possess an inherent force, which the student practices embodying through the methodological work and harnessing in a consciously rhetorical and choreographic expression.

This class runs through all of the 2nd Year and culminates with the 3rd Year production of a classical drama, where the students take on the challenge of a great Classic by e.g. Shakespeare, Molière or Euripides.

Improvisation Technique

Improvisation technique, which the students have been thoroughly acquainted with already from the beginning of the 1st Year, remains an important acting tool throughout their training. The focal point continues to be the actor’s spontaneity and free flow, with an increasing awareness of artistic expression.

Devising

Many of the most exciting and successful companies of recent years use devising technique in the process of creating their shows.

Just to name a few: Needcompany, Théâtre de Complicité, Forced Entertainment, The Wooster Group, Frantic Assembly and in Denmark: Cantabile 2 and Mute Comp. Although very different in artistic expression, they have many other aspects in common than the devising-process: they are all ensembles comprised of various nationalities, and they are all renowned for their originality and their cross-disciplinary approach to theatre. At CISPA we capacitate our students to enter into this kind of artistic context.

Devising places the responsibility for the creative process on the ensemble (including a director), as the performers themselves create the original material, out of which the show is moulded. Mainly through improvisations that may be character-based, and may take as their starting point specific themes, unusual spaces, specific props, choreographic components, music and so on. Often, several such elements are combined into a coherent expression.

The aim, from a training point of view, is for the student to practice taking artistic and creative responsibility, rather than passively adapting to a given director’s vision and directions.

Acting for the Camera

A vital part of the CISPA training focuses on adapting the methodic acting work to the film and TV media.

The fundamental training is stage based, but the students go through several courses exploring camera technique and dealing with the specific acting issues associated with this medium. The methodological acting approach equals that of the stage work, with a similar focus on the creative state of mind, but the organic expression needs adapting to e.g. the changing positions of the camera and the all-revealing close-up.

We work with scenes from different films and TV series, and within different genres.

Absurd Theatre Project

The absurd drama relates to existentialism, both that of Kierkegaard and of Sartre/Camus. It stems from the recognition of the meaninglessness of modern man’s existence, and the presupposition that it’s in our encounters with the absurd that we are the most in touch with our fundamental condition as humans.

We work with some of the best-known absurdist playwrights, such as Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Eugene Ionesco. In various ways, they all investigate in their writings the break-down of communication, and how logical construction and argument give way to irrational and illogical speech (and to its ultimate conclusion: silence). Through the exposing of the eloquence, rhetorics and triviality of our communication, fabricated to uphold the illusion of some kind of meaningfulness, these writers seek to reveal a more naked and visceral reality, which may be unbearable, but which it is nevertheless our damned task as humans to bear.

Thus, in working with the absurdists, students encounter some major challenges of both philosophical, existential, performative and artistic nature:

  • how do we access a cyclical dramaturgy and the concentrated, often deconstructed use of language to unlock and investigate the questions that the playwright poses in concrete acting choices?
  • what is language and what can it be used for? How does language, movement and space synthesize into a 4-dimensional presence (the notion of space-time)? The words are not just words that carry meaning (or lack of), but psycho-physical appearances in space and time, made manifest through the actors’ vocal and physical movement patterns.
  • how do we as actors embody philosophical and existential concepts in concrete acting choices?
  • students face exploring the central absurdist motif of failure. And Beckett’s own words serve as an overall credo for what it really means to be an artist: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”