Drama Focusing and Technique Workshop with Geoff Coleman

Drama Focusing and Technique Workshop with Geoff Coleman

On Monday 23 January, Year 11 GCSE Drama pupils had the opportunity to take an afternoon acting masterclass with a world-class acting coach, Geoff Coleman.

Geoff has a vast amount of professional experience, including Head of Acting at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, as well as on West End plays and Hollywood movies.

Right from the very beginning, he emphasised that actors must learn to think as a character.  He introduced professional focusing and visualisation techniques, to enable an actor to become a character rather than pretend.  Sometimes, “the pressure of pretending” is a difficult habit to shake, and Geoff made our actors work hard, gently insisting on authentic creative responses.

Again and again, he reminded us that text is not experience - rather, what is the chorus of inner thought?  For example, Grandma asks “How do I look?”  This could be Grandma checking all is in order… but it could be Grandma planning to dominate the room at her daughter’s birthday... it could be Grandma knowing time is catching up and feeling frail, but needing reassurance…

Next, Geoff invited us to investigate how a character’s circumstances affect behaviour; we speak and move differently in an art gallery and a bus stop.  If we have never been to an art gallery, a church might be the next most genuine response.  “Speak in to the what if world”.

The pupils then spent time applying these techniques to pieces they are currently preparing, and challenging themselves to take the risk of approaching a role honestly.

Lastly, Geoff spent some time discussing paths into careers in acting and the performing arts; he described Drama schools and universities, as well as tertiary courses such as BTECs and A levels.

The pupils found his calm, thoughtful, knowledgeable approach invaluable, and many found that there are more opportunities available than they had thought.

A lasting impression of the afternoon was Geoff’s urging us to value performers and story tellers.  Acting is not just about entertainment or a pleasant evening out.  Performers are spiritual explorers and cultural leaders; “The power of the possibility of the stories you choose to tell can change your society, and our future”.

Mr Erik Anders