Week One Reflections - Conservatory Blog

Anna DeMers

Anna DeMers

"My first week of conservatory training is a continuation of 6 previous weeks of training including Professor Certification and the Student Session. One aspect that makes the conservatory unique and enjoyable is the extra detailed attention given to each actor's individual growth due in part to the smaller size of the cohort. We are also already building creative work which really helps put the method into practical application.

As an artist and educator, I feel that the conservatory has already given me a deeper focus to practice both my creative self and my teaching self. On Friday, I led four different actor prep exercises. It was exhilarating to stand in front of my colleagues to “practice” my teaching skills and receive supportive feedback. This individual training time towards certification will allow me to really receive feedback that is microscopically specific to my growth and eliminate any actor tendencies so that I can more precisely teach the method with confidence and demonstrate for my students the full manifestation of all Margolis principles. It is rewarding to know that I can really practice these exercises and really be true to refining the specificity of my pedagogy. I have experienced other types of peer-reviews of my teaching but most respondents do not have a vocabulary in which to really be specific as with the vocabulary Margolis Method offers.

Another unique aspect of the Conservatory is the creative work that we have started to develop out of improvisational structures. For example, Kari proposed a limitation of working on a bed with the idea of it representing “boundaries.” Both Eli and Jackie had a chance to explore this a day before me so I was excited to hop-on since I really didn't have any real sense of what was to be expected. The freedom to explore within a specific limitation may sound like a contradiction but in fact setting up a structure allows me to explore with focus. While I explored physically on the bed, my colleagues, Eli and Jackie, improvised speaking text. Kari would pause us when we made discoveries or at times when we seemed to lose intention. This stop and go format was different for me. I am more accustomed to improvising for long a period of time and then reflecting back on what was experienced. I am finding value in the process as I can see the pedagogical value of pointing out to students when a choice is vague or unintentional versus letting them roll through lots of ideas without any purpose. I feel that after this instruction via stop/go format, we will all be more capable of improvising with deeper intentions and connections to our scene partners.

It is very exciting that we have already started these group improvisations as well as our individual projects which we will perform at the end of the conservatory. I anticipate lots more hard work and play! It is truly a gift to spend such concentrated time on training."

~ Anna DeMers

Jackie McCoy

Jackie McCoy

"This week we have been doing a lot of different improvisational exercises, and I keep reminding myself the same phrase, “Stop second guessing your impulse!” I am afraid of not making the right choice, not making a choice that is strong, where can my choice take me next, but the biggest problem with this is…. I am not making a choice! Through all of these improv exercises I am learning to be more confident within my skillsets.  I have all the right tools, and all the right ideas to make a strong choice, I just need to make one, commit to it, and work from there. Once I make a choice to do or say something, then I can recognize and refine it to make it the most specific idea possible. But I need to do something to go somewhere! I am the only one holding myself back with all of this second guessing hesitation.

During our class on Friday, I really enjoyed how we did a few different actor preps, improvised with these tools, and then learned how to apply them to create something. At the end of the class we had created a couple of different scenes for projects we will be working on throughout the conservatory. First, we worked with a specific exercise and device using breath and traveling. We did some solo research and then came together to work as a group to focus on our skillsets in ensemble and unisemble work. Through this we were exploring the relationship of our characters and with the use of space. We then worked on a different exercise with the device of pendulums on the floor, and applied it to our bed improvisation. This brought our bed project to a whole new level, and it was great to see how being specific with the skills we have can push us to new creative heights. I learned through this exploration that once you have made a choice, to give it meaning, go deeper and explore what is happening and how it affects you. Everything else follows after that including momentum and demeanor.

It is truly exciting to see how each of us are growing as we dig deeper into the method. All of this is helping me both in class and with creating my solo project. The best place to start is to try something. If it isn’t working, try something else, if it is working, refine it, and make it as specific as possible!"

~ Jackie McCoy