19th April 2020

Keeping busy during free time

“Free time is a terrible thing to go to waste.”

E.A. Bucchianeri

As Bucchianeri wisely stated, free time is precious and we should use it accordingly. When free time isn’t (unfortunately) a substantial component of our lives, the moment we grasp it, it often gets filled with something we’re passionate about and haven’t had the chance to dedicate ourselves to or we lazily procrastinate through it. The latter could become the case even in an eventual situation in which we get a lot of free time on our hands; when being swallowed by the deep and confusional sea of options of things we could possibly do, the easiest option seems to be ignoring it and somehow just navigate through it. However, the easiest option often isn’t the best one.
The best option is to dedicate your free time to self-development, possibly surrounded by your loved ones, a cozy house with an optional garden or a beautiful view of the sky and a vast variety of snacks. We would like to suggest you some ideas, options and activities to try out to keep yourself busy during your free time.

What to Watch

You might be thinking, does this mean binge watching is a waste of free time and I should give up on it? As actors, we’d be crazy (and most likely had chosen the wrong profession) if we were even remotely suggesting that watching movies or series is a waste of time. That is why we actively encourage you not to give up on it, especially when you’ve got a lot of time to watch a variety of things, because that is one of the most immediate ways of learning. Being a multilingual and multicultural agency we would like to propose international works which will make you dive into new cultures and worlds.

France

  • Le Destin D’Amelie Poulin: A lighthearted romantic comedy directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet which will warm your heart through its magical atmosphere and hypnotising simplicity.
  • Enfermés Dehors: Albert Dupontel directed and starred in this, interpreting a homeless man who gets access to a police uniform which leads him to a series of discoveries and adventures.

Colombia

  • Monos: Directed by Alejandro Landes, this drama focuses on a group of armed teens watching over a hostage on the Colombian mountaintop Monos. “There are escape attempts, murder and a descent into more squalor, suggesting that, as with William Golding’s Flies, filmmaker Alejandro Landes is delivering an allegorical message of some sort.” (Washington Post)

Czech Republic

  • Tři oříšky pro Popelku is a 1973 czechoslovakian adaptation/ spin on/ original version of Cindirella. The beautiful soundtrack will become stuck in your head.
  • Cosy Dens (Pelíšky) is a 1999 Czech film directed by Jan Hrebejk. Pelíšky is a bittersweet coming-of-age story set in the months from Christmas 1967 leading up to the ill-fated 1968 Prague Spring. 3 keywords: teenage love, family and communism

Israel and something different

  • Waltz with Bashir: Ari Folman produced and directed this unique animated documentary film, focused on the 1982 Lebanon war. It won many awards, among which a Golden Globe for best Foreign Language film. If you are interested in a new one-of-a time experience and to get educated about an important event in Israel history, this masterpiece is a must watch.

And if you are a theatre lover,

don’t worry we haven’t forgotten about you and guess what? You can watch plays from the comfort of your home too! 
An amazing platform that offers a selection of theatre productions  is Digital Theatre +.  Moreover, only recently the National Theatre has started to broadcast live performances on the National Theatre Live website.

Physical Activity

Physical activity is important for your overall well-being and you don’t need to necessarily go to a gym to keep fit. Actually, it’s surprisingly effective, more stimulating and less time consuming (because you save the travel to and from a gym) to do it within the confines of your propriety.

There is a whole universe of training sessions available online, the biggest and best platform for them (FREE) probably being youtube. In order to be consistent and see the results, challenge yourself and add it into your routine; here are some workout suggestions:

  •  30 days with Adriene: a 30 day yoga journey which will accompany and develop your physical and spiritual growth. Challenges overall are an easy solution to the routine recommendation. 
  • Total body pilates: a workout for your body which will enlighten your core, lengthen and strengthen your entire body.
  • Cardio dance workout: burning calories and sculpting your body while having a boogie.

Educational

With a lot of free time on your hands you’re lucky because you can finally finish reading that book you left half read 2 years ago, because too much work and responsibilities got in the way…or you can indulge yourself and read something new and informative.

A very good series of books available on Amazon is the BIG IDEAS SIMPLY EXPLAINED, among which you can find  The Psychology Book, The History Book or the Business Book. 

And if perhaps you get passionate about a new subject among these you can dabble in an Ivy League course to expand your knowledge and even potentially acquire a certificate. There are 450 Ivy League  courses available for free on freecodecamp.org in any subject you can possibly think of, provided by high-end universities such as Harvard and Yale.

If you’re in the academic mood a great middle-ground between the above suggestions is Masterclass: a platform offering classes by the masters of their crafts such as Martin Scorsese teaching Filmmaking, Natalie Portman teaching acting, Neil Gaiman teaching writing and Gordon Ramsay teaching cooking.

Get Creative and Have Fun

On the note of cooking, having fun and freeing your inner master-chef during your free time is extremely gratifying and filling (in every sense).

If you are in the mood of being artistic you could try doing some DIY projects, collage work or wabi sabi. That way you will merge productivity with fun by creating something useful for your house or garden, such as a rug or a personalised mug.

Or else take out your cards and table games and challenge your house-mates or family; a cool app is Psych which includes many quiz’s in which you can participate both with the people near you and far away. 


   Renée Marie Pizzardi
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6th August 2019

Summer is here!

Summer’s here, the Summer’s heeree! Summer is finally here and even though the English weather can be a whirlwind, there’s plenty of sunshine and activities to take advantage of. Our lovely Daniel Anderson has collected a list for our newsletter of some of Play Actors favorite things to do in the Summer, at home or around London, so we thought we’d share them with you.

Beautiful Summer in London – perfect place for a stroll, run or picnic even (Credit: Standard)

His main tip is intermittent fasting. He usually skips breakfast and lunch in the Summer months. It allows him to have a big dinner and dessert (he loves dessert), whilst still hitting his nutritional targets. And it keeps him sharp during the day, so he can get a lot more done in the hot weather. Our Peruvian actress Pepa is also focusing on physical targets this Summer. It’s called HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). She manages to fit in sessions wherever it’s convenient for her, as they are not long. This helps her gain the stamina she needs to be productive in this weather. Here’s one you can do at home that only takes 24 minutes.

Staying on the physical tips, but moving a little bit more into the mindfulness, both myself and Enya are really enjoying Yoga with Adriene on Youtube. She has hundreds of videos and tutorials and you can opt for some of her long-term sessions, for example her 30 day journeys. It’s a great way to stay grounded and calm in a stressful city over Summer – and all year around. Maya continues with tips down the mindfulness path, as she likes to spend her Summers meditating – especially on the tube, where it’s easy to get stressed out. She listens to podcasts a lot and Here’s a link to her favorite one this season.

Moving on to something just as important to keep your cool, is food. Our Calin really enjoys a good picnic, and who doesn’t with the abundance of beautiful parks around London. Amongst Calin’s essentials are a decent sized blanket, a cooler and a natural bug repellant. He suggests citronella based repellants. For me, a nice, chill sparkly wine or two are also picnic necessities. Swiss Charlotte agrees that food is a priority these months – she enjoys an ‘Apéro’ and she agrees with me that a sparkly rosé is a must. She also has a recipe for a delicious guacamole with broccoli instead of avocado. Recipe here. She even suggests a specific park, Primrose Hill. Which is also my absolute favorite, with a gorgeous view over the London skyline.

On a more cultural note, Lory always uses Timeout Free, when she has a bit of spare time. It’s a list full of suggestions of things you can do for free in London. I also like to take advantage of TodayTix, for last minute theatre tickets as well as the social media account Secret London. It’s always booming with pictures of beautiful places in London, less known to tourists.

One of my favorite Summer events, if you’re a little more into the party type of culture, is Notting Hill Carnival on the 25thand 26thof August. A great carnival that takes over the streets of Notting Hill and celebrates all sorts of cultures, but mainly the Caribbean. It’s been taken place since the 1960’s and is a great way to spend a cultured, fun bank holiday weekend.

Notting Hill Carnival (Credit: Rad Season)

Let us know if you take advantage of any of the tips from our international actors. And let us know if you have more tips on how to best enjoy the Summer, in London and internationally.

Make sure to follow us on Social Media @PlayActorsCom


   
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8th January 2019

Taxes!!!

Let’s get the heavy stuff out of the way – tax return is coming up in January. If you are self-employed, this can be a daunting time of year, especially for those of us who have always been bad at math and economical logic. It is unfortunately a necessity, so here’s a few tips and articles that can help you out. 

  1. Get QuickBooks Self-Employed! Most self-employed people swear by this app, that for only a few quid a month gives you a platform that is linked to your bank account where everything can be sorted; mileage, keeping photos of receipts, sorting out what is personal and business. In the end of the year it will be a helpful tool in preparing your self-assessment. (Side tip: the app also allows you to split your bills, for example if you work from home twice a week. You can split rent, heat etc by percentage into business and personal).
  2. Keep your receipts if you don’t take pictures of them and don’t claim every single meal as a business meeting, because people do actually get caught and it’s just not worth it. 
  3. Check if any of your other work is already deducting tax at the source. No need to double pay it!
  4. Some things relating to your career can be deducted, some can’t, it’s a fine and confusing line. But here’s a list of deductible things that help a bit: https://www.gov.uk/expenses-if-youre-self-employed
  5. Your personal allowance this year is £11,850. This means you can earn this much before paying income tax (you still have to pay national insurance tax, which will be £153.40 a year for most self employed people). Make sure you set money aside every month to pay your taxes as the basic income tax rate is 20%. 
  6. There are plenty of help to get out on the big wide web. This article for example, explains quite well how to get started with taxes for actors: https://uk-taxreturn.co.uk/index.php/tax-guide-for-self-employed-actors/. And you would be surprised how good www.gov.uk can be, mainly if you call them up, they’re super nice and helpful.
  7. If you have the finances to hire an accountant, there a plenty that can magically fix all your taxes as a one-off fee. They can be a bit pricey, but if you’re okay with getting an online accountant they can be as cheap as £80. On QuickBooks Self-employed there is a directory of accountants that do free advice as well. 
  8. The deadline to complete your tax return is 31st of January 2019! 

   
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13th July 2017

The LIAR #002 – London International Actors Recommend

Daniel Anderson recommends an app called Blinkist to keep learning and satiate his curiosity.

Blinkist in an app that captures big ideas and delivers them in small digestible packages. Dan says about the app that it changed his life:  “In essence, the Blinkist team reads non-fiction books and sums up the key points in an easy-to-understand format (blinks), enabling you to get the gist from each of the books on their data base in under 15 minutes. All the books you save work immediately offline. I tend to use the app on the tube when there are no lines to learn, or to have something to think about before I go to bed. Do the trial and decide for yourself”

The app is free to download. It gives you a free trial for 24 hours, with unlimited blinks. After that you get one free blink a day, or you can pay 50GBP for a year and get unlimited blinks.

Where to find it : https://www.blinkist.com

Marta Da Silva recommends the Anatomy of a Suicide at the Royal Court

Alice Birch’s stunning, Katie Mitchell-directed new play is about three generations of women struggling with their predecessors’ legacies. Alice Birch describes it as “choose your very own bleak adventure, basically”.  Anatomy of a Suicide’ is essentially three dramas set in different time periods, all performed on stage at the same time. The three women whose lives are on display are Carol (Hattie Morahan) in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, Anna (Kate O’Flynn) in the ’90s and ’00s, and Bonnie (Adelle Leonce) in the 2030s. We understand shortly into the play that the three women belong to the same dynasty.

In Marta’s words, it is a spectacular play with a very interesting and ambitious staging, and beautiful acted.”

Read Alice Birch humorously talking about her play here: https://www.timeout.com/london/theatre/alice-birch-its-like-choose-your-very-own-bleak-adventure-basically

Where do I get tickets:

anatomy of a suicide

Calin Bleau recommends the book  How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie

According to this book, You can go after the job you want…and get it! You can take the job you have…and improve it! You can take any situation you’re in…and make it work for you!

Since its release in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold more than 15 million copies. Dale Carnegie’s first book is a timeless bestseller, packed with rock-solid advice that has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.

The book offers to teach you: the six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment.
Calin heartily recommends the book “because of it’s timeless approach to people and how to get yourself out of your shell as an actor and a person in general. I wouldn’t stick to the advice in it word for word but one read may have a positive effect on how to treat with people in our industry and in our lives.”

Calin is not the only one who thinks so:

“it changed my life” (Warren Buffet)

“The most successful self-help book of all time… Carnegie has never seemed more relevant” (The Times)

“It’s helped me immeasurably in life. I think everyone should read it” (Jenny Colgan, Independent on Sunday)

Where to find it https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/How-Win-Friends-Influence-People-Dale-Carnegie/0091906814

Tatiana Collet Apraxine recommends the Mono Box as wonderful resource for actors and theatre makers to expand their knowledge and practice.

You probably already know about the Mono Box, but if you don’t, you’re missing out.
THE MONO BOX defines itself as “a collaborative, not-for-profit network that caters for actors and theatre-makers seeking alternative, affordable training. We are committed to empowering actors by opening the door to what can seem like a daunting industry. Over the past three years The Mono Box has become a go-to resource, creating a dialogue between the professional world and those who are emerging into it.”
Their mission is to support emerging talent in theatre

To provide access to a unique resource of play texts

To encourage the personal, professional and social development of young artists

To equip young people with practical tools for the industry

To form a collective that fosters and nurtures creative relationships

I have been astonished by the diversity and the quality of workshops offered. From Meisner, to Viewpoints, to Brecht to offering audition and speech “surgery” workshops, to comedy, you can find an astonishing range of practices taught. The faculty brought in is of incredible quality and there is a strong sense of community present.

No matter where you are in your career and craft, the Mono Box offers wonderful opportunities to refresh, expand, challenge your craft and meet wonderful, ambitious and dedicated fellow artists.

How do I take part: http://www.themonobox.co.uk/events


   
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23rd February 2017

I’d like to thank… – International Actors Nominate their Favorite Tools, Techniques and Breakthroughs!

SAG Awards, BAFTAs, Golden Globes, Berlinale, Césars, American Academy Awards… THAT Season is in full blast.

Throughout this period, we tend to hear critically acclaimed actors thank those who contributed the most to their artistic (and of course commercial) success as they receive a coveted trophy.

As this reminded us we all have our own path and process, we asked a few members what acting technique or acting experience proved to be the greatest tool or biggest breakthrough to date. Here are their answers below.

Judith Georgi:

“I think the one technique that made me confident on stage was Grotowski’s idea of the Poor Theatre. To me, It was really freeing to realise that actors can create worlds through their body and imagination. Then there was a teacher, Jennie Buckmann, who combines Stanislavski’s technique with a wealth of directing experience and an inquisitive nature that is simply contagious. Working with her in London, she made me look at Shakespeare’s work in a different way.”

Marta da Silva:

“I’d say that having always struggled with plays from writers such as Ibsen, where character’s motivations and actions usually convey an enormous amount of internal turmoil that isn’t immediately obvious, even when analysing the script, Graham McLaren’s actioning based directing proved to be one of the most useful and eye opening experiences for me after graduating from the Conservatoire.  Definitely gave me a method to systematically analyse and work on a script that allows a lot of detail in performance and makes sure the actor keeps it ‘in the body’. A good example of this type of work was A View from the Bridge directed by Ivo Van Hove last year.”

Tatiana Collet Apraxine:

“Clowning encourages actors to be playful, imaginative, poetic, tragic, moving ridiculous, and is by far the most exciting and liberating training I have ever done. Through clowning, I have discovered how to completely live in the moment. In my work, I now thrive to be braver, bolder, messier, more courageous, vulnerable, honest, ferocious. Through clowning, I have found moments of incredible beauty and truth, and most importantly it has allowed me to find a sense of joy and fun in my work, and to be absolutely ridiculous while ignoring the voice of the critic. The Why Not Institute is a great place to do it if that info is needed anywhere.”

Lise Aagaard Knudsen:

“Different techniques at different points – the Stanislavski Toolbox has helped me; immediate circumstances, intentions, I loved when my teacher at Central, actress and director Federay Holmes said there’s no sarcasm and only truth, or a director who said there are no characters. Asking myself: do you really mean that? And is that the first time you say/think that? (Techniques from The Factory). It all depends on the job and the situation.”

Anne-Sophie Marie

“Relearning Meisner technique with Amy Marcs (NYCDA) got me out of my head and also gave me the focus I needed to overcome  my stage fright. Suzuki was amazing for ensemble work, and gave my body the stamina needed to perform (I lost it later and could tell the difference!)

Finally, working on Maudite Machine with Catherine Ghobert back in France connected me to words on a sensory, almost sensual level, so that was another breakthrough.

Usually, anything tactile affects me greatly, be in a technique or in the rehearsal process. I’m pretty analytical and intellectual to begin with, so though I’m a big fan of script analysis and actioning, I do tend to find the magic through more sensory triggers.”

Hervé Goffings:

“My breakthrough in my acting is not necessarily due to a specific technique but to the understanding that I am not on stage to please an audience or to show off my acting skills. My job as an actor is to put a believable character to life, to be true to that character and most importantly to enjoy being that character. If you don’t give much relevance to what people may think of you when you are acting and focus on your character’s objectives you will most likely to do one of your best performances!”

Eva-Marie Becker:

“My acting heavily relies on the techniques developed by Sanford Meisner and Ivana Chubbuck, added to by sensory and physical tools.

Though nothing groundbreakingly new to someone gone through classical drama training and having worked with Stanislavsky’s methods before, Ivana Chubbuck’s comprehensive way of giving you 11 tools to prepare a scene has given me a more structured way to approach my preparation. Now I am not using random tools anymore but a well thought through set of tools, giving me the peace of mind I need to ‘let go’.

This is where Meisner’s technique comes into play. Working in London with Scott Williams and The Impulse Company was when I truly understood what kind of actress I wanted to be: the one that does the preparation and then lives the scene moment to moment being in the room and with the partner.”

Marilii Saar:

“My acting breakthrough was working with Bathsheba Garnett for the first time. She’s in her 90s, scary as anything, and runs a course in London called “Simplicity” which is all about being simple and truthful and in the moment. It was the first time I ever cried whilst acting and it caught even myself off guard. I did, however, finally understand what so many acting teachers had been telling me in the past – that it’s not my responsibility to cry, it should happen naturally and it’s actually up to the other person to make me cry. After this instance I realised that it was up to me to be open and available to react however I happen to react in the moment. I think it’s honestly made me a much better actor and I’ll forever cherish that insight.”

Ingvild Deila:

“My most useful acting tool so far has been a combination of Meisner exercises to ground me in the moment and keep my focus on the other person, combined with Stanislavsky-like preparations on my own. I usually ask myself a series of questions that I’ve collated over the years to get to know the character, after having read the script many times. After looking into the intellectual and emotional aspects, I try to find the physicality and voice. I find Dee Cannon’s book In-Depth Acting quite useful. But overall, my approach to finding a character is rather pragmatic; different techniques works for different roles and I am always on the lookout for new tools to try out.”


   
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