Acting & Professional Development Training 2018  

We are currently putting together a series of workshops for 2018. If there are specific workshops you would be interested in us running, please do contact us here or by email to register your interest: info@learningthroughtheatre.co.uk


The Theatre of Expressionism

To express drama in the most vital way imaginable; to perform at the height of one’s powers with all available means.” (Berkoff)

We are running several Expressionism workshops this spring:

Saturday March 24th 2018, 10am-3.30pm

The Actor’s Workshop, FACTORY 8, First Floor, Upton Road, Southville, Bristol BS3 1QZ
Cost:        £35; Students/Equity/Members of The Actors’ Workshop £25

Booking: by PayPal through The Actors’ Workshop 

Saturday April 21st 2018, 10am-4pm

Five Ashes Village Hall, East Sussex, TN20 6JA
Cost:         £65, including lunch

Booking: through Off The Text Workshops

Expressionism as a style of acting takes you to the polar opposite of Realism where vivid, dream-like worlds are created. Characters are distorted and stylised; language becomes heightened, rhapsodic and rhythmic; narrative becomes disjointed and episodic driven more by the internal struggles of the characters in relation to a central theme, than by logical narrative progression.

This entirely practical day is ideal for actors, drama teachers or drama students. The masterclass will:
• Stretch your range and ability to explore the vast expressive potential of your physicality and voice, so that you can perform at the height of your powers
• Enable you to reach the level of exaggeration and the intensity of performance required for Expressionism
• Provide you with a set of techniques that you can apply to both text and devised work
• Ground techniques in theory, linking to key practitioners throughout.

Further detail:

• Corporeal Mime starting from isolations and ‘plastiques’ this will lead into rhythm and synchronisation. Working with the metronome beat to control and syncopate movement, finding precision, choral movement, expressive ‘mie’ (Kabuki). This is about working from the body to the mind, bridging the gap between impulse and image, allowing the body to create the image for the mind; wearing the emotion on the outside.
• The Expressionist Mask Exaggerated characterisation using body, face and voice to create a stylised total character mask without the need of the physical item of the mask.
• The Chorus of Heightened Expression Creating psychological and physical environments with a group of performers; using tension states and ‘masks’ to create choral tableau that mirror, amplify, comment on the emotions of the protagonist.
• The Grotesque Human-Animal Individually and as a chorus we will work with animal states and exaggeration, exploring extracts from plays such as Metamorphosis.
• Physicalisation of Language Vocal patterning, vocal effects, range, emphasis, exaggeration, soundscaping, choral voice, taking the imagery into the voice.
• The Actor-Spectator Dynamic Direct address; illeism; asides and comic timing.

This workshop is ideal CPD for teachers as well as core training in physical theatre for actors and students.


The Comedy Double Act

Sat 7th April 2018, 10am-4pm

The Shoebox Theatre, Theatre Square, Swindon, SN1 1QN
Cost: £35 per person
Suitable for ages 18+

Booking:  online through The Shoebox Theatre

Laurel and Hardy, Morecambe and Wise, Mayall and Edmondson, Reeves and Mortimer…

Comic double acts have been appearing on our screens and stages for over a century, but what makes them so timelessly funny?

We will trace the roots of the double act back through sitcom, stage and the silent screen playing in comic duos such as the Master and Servant; the Charlatan and Stooge and the Dumb and Dumber Clowns. This workshop is entirely practical and focused on the physical tomfoolery. We will teach you how to ‘make ’em laugh’ with some of the tricks of the comic greats:

  • Comic techniques e.g. slapstick, parody, absurdity, incongruity
  • Comic devices, rhythms, pacing and timing
  • Improvisation
  • ‘Grummelot’ (gibberish nonsense) communication
  • Physical sequences including eccentric dance
  • Audience interaction

This is an ideal workshop for anyone wanting to develop confidence in comedy performance, gain ideas for devising, find simple ways into comic characterisation or simply to have fun! Silly hats and comic props will be in abundance – feel free to bring your own random objects with comic potential to add to the mix! Come on your own or bring a comic partner.


Past workshops & masterclasses

A Commedia dell’Arte Play in a Day

Creating a traditional Commedia dell’Arte play in a day! The characters and their relationships are the starting point to create a plot that can then be expanded through improvisation, devising and physical storytelling. Participants develop skills in comedy, characterisation and stagecraft and use devices and techniques such as lazzi, grommelot and slapstick. The day is entirely practical and fast-paced requiring a good level of physical fitness and stamina and culminates in the performance of a play to an invited audience.

  • Commedia character types and maschèmi (a repertoire of characteristics peculiar to particular characters)
  • Mask performance techniques
  • Spontaneous improvisation
  • Comic action and slapstick (lazzi)
  • Grommelot (gibberish used in Commedia, at times, in place of conversation)
  • Complicite and movement in the stage space
  • Devising from canovaccio (a simple plot outline for improvisation)

Slapstick Comedy large_safetylastclock

A full day of Slapstick Comedy uncovering the tricks and techniques of the comic greats (The Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton, Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese, et al). This high energy one day workshop teaches participants how to create comic characters (with and without masks), drawing on the archetype of the fool.

Participants learn a range of comic devices like the double take, the comic stop and spoof violence! We look at the origins of slapstick in Commedia dell’Arte using actual slapsticks (battocchio) as used by the famous zanni characters, in particular Harlequin. Develop an understanding of stage craft and explore solo work, comic sequences and scenes. Ideal for complete novices or seasoned pros. A chance to throw aside your inhibitions, brush up your skills and enjoy playing the fool.

cropped-mumconhead-1Mummers Workshop

A practical workshop for Mummer Performers focusing on physical comedy and timing. How to spice up a performance and get the most out of an existing script looking at the physicality of the characters and the buffoonery of the quack Doctor, who originates from the Commedia dell’Arte. Run as part of the International Mummers Unconvention 2016.

132Acting with Masks

This ran as a 10 week course that introduced skills for performing in a mask, using comic character masks from the traditional form Commedia dell’Arte.

Teaching the key principles of mask work and comic physical theatre, the weekly two hour sessions focussed on accessing characters from physical starting points and developing the essential stage craft to allow masks to play effectively in the space. Movement, mannerisms and repartee for comic archetypal characters were explored, scenes devised and a final presentation was worked towards. The history of Commedia dell Arte was delved into as it is inextricably linked to the characters and performing them making this an ideal basis for an extended study/dissertation research.


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Simple Acting Techniques for parents and carers:

Telling Tales 

Have you ever wished you were better at telling stories? Would you like to join in your child’s imaginary games with enthusiasm?
I can teach you how to tell stories to make kids listen.
You will learn to love reading aloud, to feel confident releasing your imagination and to really bring characters to life.

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Creating Characters

Have you ever wished you could tell a story and really make the characters come to life for an audience? Through connecting you with your body and voice, learn how to use them as expressive tools as a way into creating wonderful, fun characters. The workshop covers characterisation, how to use your body and voice expressively and physical storytelling and animation.  Techniques used: Theatre games, interaction, movement, gentle exploration of masks, improvisation and a bit of slapstick comedy!