As a performer myself, I eagerly awaited this workshop, convinced that I would leave The Warren on that damp, soggy day a better actress – or at least with a few hot tips on character embodiment. Instead, what I got was the broad definition of acting as ‘thinking the thoughts of someone else’ (mind blown) and some fairly useful and inspiring life tips about what it means to be a character yourself.
More akin to a self-help seminar than a practical acting workshop – not necessarily a negative depending on what you hoped to gain from the class.
We commenced the workshop with a brief biography of our instructor, the wonderfully charismatic Julian Caddy, the Brighton Fringe Director who also runs regular workshops in London. The workshop was attended by a varied bunch; several fellow actors desperate to hone their craft, a few writers hoping for inspiration and a couple of comedians eager to improve their sketch comedy. It is hard to say who out of this group would have achieved the most from this workshop, as it was more akin to a self-help seminar than a practical acting workshop – not necessarily a negative depending on what you hoped to gain from the class.
My main gripe with the workshop is that it felt rushed and it ran over significantly, a fact that Caddy noted also, stating that 80 minutes is not long enough to do the technique justice. The description cites the workshop as containing ‘theory and improvisation’, however I found that it focused too much on the former, leaving the latter to be crammed into the last 10 minutes of the class – a disappointment for those in attendance who anticipated a more applied ‘acting’ workshop. The improvisation that did take place was well considered by Caddy, focusing on the idea of ‘thinking the thoughts’ of the character by being given elaborate details about their personal lives and history. Caddy gave personal and constructive feedback to the improvisations, showcasing his enthusiasm and belief in the lessons he was teaching.
Overall, the workshop was enjoyable and contained valuable perceptions on daily thought processes, most usefully on the concepts of over-thinking, self-consciousness and worrying. However I found that it was more reminiscent of a seminar than a workshop and too theory-based, disappointing for those expecting a revelation in applied character creation. This discrepancy in the description of the workshop as opposed to the class itself, combined with the lack of time Caddy had to truly explore the techniques, led to unsatisfactory experience despite the obvious intellect and talent of the instructor.