Grace Dixon's Blog

9 Oct 2013

We asked Actorsworkshop 'Frequent Flyer' Grace Dixon to write us a blog about her experience with us. Here's what she came up with.

My name is Grace, mother of three, older than I care to admit and a total fan of Actorsworkshop. I walked into my first experience of Actorsworkshop just after Easter 2012. I know you will understand when I say I was nervous. All the usual self-doubts were there, you know them. I'm not going to fit in/everyone else will be younger/older/more talented/more experienced/more confident and so on. You get the picture, right?

The good news is; everyone else in that room felt exactly the same way.

The even better news? It's OK. Everyone at Actorsworkshop; tutors, guest tutors, existing participants, have all felt that way at some time and understand.

After that first session I realized I was going to have a ball! Remember play-time at school? The fun, the laughter, learning the rules of a new game from your mates? That's Actorsworkshop. No matter what sort of day I've had, a session at Actorsworkshop leaves me smiling and ready for anything.

Acting is a challenge and yes, there have been times when I've wondered if I'm 'good enough' and I've compared myself (unfavourably) to others. We all do it. The environment created at Actorsworkshop is safe and allowed me to deal with those things. The tutors give honest and constructive feedback and encourage me to 'play around' with characters, techniques, and scenarios. And as for comparing myself to others and being overwhelmed and impressed by their talent? We're all different, we have different talents, and I soon realized that people were looking at me and were impressed with what I can do! It sounds a bit 'luvvy' but everyone supports everyone else at Actorsworkshop.

Actorsworkshop is equipping me with the skills directors (of both stage and screen) love to see in actors. From the basics of 'turning up on time and knowing your lines' to playing emotional, heart wrenching roles competently and professionally,

The skills I've learned in the stage academy sessions with Jamie, Cian and Gary are, largely. transferable to the screen academy. Some skills have to be adapted, but that's fine, Rebecca explained how things are done differently for screen and taught me new skills that are needed for working on screen. The 'hitting your mark' session was great fun, and the 'acting from the neck up' session was an eye-opener. All this made realize how hard actors on screen are working.

I've learned about a man called Meisner in the stage academy, his techniques can be applied to both stage and screen. When I started to learn about Meisner I have to admit I wondered what on earth was happening. 'Weird or what?' territory. And I wasn't the only one. But I stuck with it and it grew on me. It's amazing! The impact it's had on my acting skills was phenomenal! When performing I just knew I was doing better because I was applying Meisner's techniques. So when you meet Meisner, go with it and trust it. It's worth it. In fact, I'm going back to do more sessions on Meisner in September. Can't wait!

I've experienced acting on stage and screen, I've even had the opportunity to write stuff and see it performed, in public, by others in the workshops – was that an ego boost of epic proportions or what?! - and I've got myself involved in the costume side of things too. I've gained friends from different backgrounds and experience who all love performing. I suppose you could call that bit 'networking' too, but it's looks a lot like hanging out with some great mates to me!

I've even got my son involved with this performing malarkey too! He's ten years old and has just appeared in the Actorsworkshop production of 'Fame Jr'. Mikey's a funny one (aren't all kids?), one minute he's full of confidence, the next he's a bundle of shyness. But, as my old mum would say, Actorsworkshop is doing him 'a power of good'! He plays games with his new Actorsworkshop friends while learning to act, dance and sing. He was immensely proud of his involvement in the 'Fame Jr.' production and is looking forward to next term's project.

I joined Actorsworkshop because I wanted to learn how to act and because I wanted to be involved in something fresh and exciting. Did I hit the jackpot? Oh yes, with bells on! At the end of last term, on stage, I played Anna, the Governor’s wife, in The Government Inspector. The immediate feedback you get from a live audience is wonderful. The end of term project for the screen academy side of things is a short film, 'Doug', which is available on youtube here, Next term, after spending some more time with Meisner's techniques, I will be performing again. I'll let you know how it goes!