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North West
posted/updated: 29 Jun 2020 -
An evening of performance: Both Feet LIVE
Theatre meets ZOOM: Live performances by the Both Feet community
society/company: Both Feet - Actor Training (directory)
performance date: 28 Jun 2020
venue: Online - via Zoom
reviewer/s: Susan Elkin (Sardines review)

Both Feet is a training organisation which works with seasoned professionals wanting CPD and actors at the beginning of their careers so there's a range of ages. The emphasis is on the work of Sanford Meisner, Recently, of course, their teaching has had to be online rather than face to face and this show was effectively a showcase on Zoom.

With Stephanie Morgan, co-founder of Both Feet, at the helm the event allowed 108 people to watch nine play extracts and two linking songs. It worked pretty well although, as always, the setting up of the tech at the beginning - ensuring everyone has the right settings and viewing mode - was tedious. Welcome to 2020. As Morgan commented cheerfully: "As actors we've learned to adapt, Our world is never going to be the same again. Some elements of 'this' will be with us for ever so we have to learn how to work with it and love it rather than fearing it." And, as she quipped during the ten-minute break, interval drinks are a lot cheaper on Zoom than in the theatre.

I have seen hundreds of drama school showcases and what struck me forcibly about this one was the freshness of the choices of extracts. Sometimes you hear the same weary old bit three times in a week if you're on the showcase circuit. Here we got much less hackneyed work such as duologues from Yerma, Fatal Light by Chloe Moss and Doris Day by EV Crowe. In each pairing the actors are all in different places - their own homes, mostly. Sometimes one was convinced that that they really were talking to each other across a space but at others it seemed disjointed. Cleverly in two cases the characters were actually speaking to each other via Zoom within the context of their play - I suppose we shall see more of that in plays in the future just as we now see emails in novels.

The highspot of the evening was Paul and Julia (we weren't given their surnames) in The Caretaker. Choosing Pinter is brave and ambitious (and almost unheard of in a showcase) but it was in fine hands here. Her distressed truculence, subject shifting and random mania was very convincing. He (actor in his own garage?) had a stillness and a nicely nuanced way with monosyllabic questions. His pauses were beautifully paced too and the two actors sparked remarkably well off each other. As we watched them in "gallery view" it was easy to forget that they weren't actually in the same space.

I once attended and observed a Both Feet class. It is interesting to see what the actors they work with can be helped to achieve.

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