More Therapy Than Theatre: a review of Acting 101 at HCAC
An acting workshop with Kamil Haque at the Haque Centre of Acting and Creativity (HCAC) is not what you might expect. Instead of reading out lines from Shakespeare, or even doing physical warm up and characterization exercises, we (the students) were thrown into the deep end by being asked to delve into our inner psyche, and ask ourselves personal, reflective questions. In some way, it was more like therapy than theatre.
The reason for all that affronting self-reflection lies in Kamil’s philosophy and approach to acting: before you can truly understand a character, you must first understand yourself. Hence all the confrontations with ourselves and our inner demons. But it was a truly cathartic experience, and by the end of the first hour of the eight-hour session we had variously (depending on the level of investment of each student) either poured our hearts out, or at least chipped away slightly at the walls around our emotions.
Following this emotional excavation, students were provided with some very handy and everyday tools with which, Kamil assured us, we would become better actors. Who would have known that the secret to improving our acting abilities lay in something so simple? We also engaged in some fun exercises like making completely baseless judgements about our classmates, stalking strangers in the streets, and eating Indian food (which is not included in the course fees). And we got to do some acting at the end, too.
For myself, I have had some theatre training in the past, and so some of the concepts and techniques were familiar to me. Nevertheless, I most enjoyed this workshop because of the different approach it took to acting from what I was used to. I also really enjoyed my group dynamics, as we had a good group of 11 people who were very positive, supportive and constructive with their input. There were also multidisciplinary artists (musicians, dancers) in my group so we could even take certain discussions to another level, which I enjoyed very much. I also got to meet people from other worlds than mine (therapists, neuroscientists etc) who helped me to become a little more sensitive to different kinds of people.
For just one day in the studio, I think we got a lot out of the class. Students were definitely pushed out of our comfort zones. We got to learn new things. We got to perform in front of a forgiving audience. And we learned to work together as a group, though we all began as strangers. These are opportunities you don’t always get to have, and I’m grateful they can be found here in Singapore.
Not only is this introductory class good for actors, I also feel that it is good for every single human being, because I think it is very important for people to be able to confront themselves and ask themselves difficult questions, much like what we did in the class. No matter who you are or where you are in life, I feel that this class would benefit anybody who is willing to give it a try. So go for it!
The next Acting 101 workshop at HCAC is on 19 March. Early bird pricing and more details can be found on their webpage.
P.S. The Indian food which is not included in the course fees refers to lunch. If you didn’t get that joke, I’m sorry.