March 27, 2008


Tutor: Willem Wassenaar
Where: Te Whaea: National Dance & Drama Centre
When: two weekends; 10/11 May and 17/18 May, 9am-5pm
Costs: $250 for professional theatre practitioners / $200 for Toi Whakaari students
RSVP before 1 May 2008:

"The elements work allows the actor the chance to play, explore and develop not only through rehearsals but also right through a season as it provides the safety of a known structure but demands and invites freedom of impulse while allowing the actor’s personal flavor to shine through. This work is revitalizing and vital, it is refreshing and wild, but also practical and easy to apply."
Brooke Williams (Porcelain Grin, The Crucible, The Pillow Man, Urine Town: The Musical, The Tempest, The Female of the Species)

This is an invitation to take part in the workshop ELEMENTS: FIRE, WATER, AIR AND EARTH, which will be held at Te Whaea: National Dance & Drama Centre for two following weekends: 10/11 May and 17/18 May 2008. On these Saturdays and Sundays the workshop is scheduled from 9am until 5pm. In the workshop, taught by award winning director and acting tutor Willem Wassenaar, you have the opportunity to explore a specific acting method based on the elements. Adapted by Willem Wassenaar from the technique of Dutch theatre practitioner Helmert Woudenberg, this acting method approaches the elements as an integrated force in the body that triggers human behaviour. Costs: $200 for Toi Whakaari students / $250 for professional theatre practitioners.

The workshop is perfect for professional actors and actors in training (secondment) who are keen to experience a new technique that can easily be used in a practical way for future projects. At the same time the workshop will work the actor’s muscle, reveal a bigger range for the actor to work with, broaden their own potential and create a strong sense of how to access an inner truth again and again. The elements can actually be applied to text, so it is not only physically based. In the workshop we will work on improvisation, as well as text (monologue, dialogue).

All human beings carry earth, fire, air and water in them. These different elements function in correlation with, and feed off, each other. In the workshop you have the chance to research how the elements can be evoked in the actor’s body. How do the elements interact with each other and what does it produce? How can theatre practitioners use the language of the elements in a practical way for rehearsal and training purposes?

In the two weekends we explore the following:

• Creating a physical understanding of the elements (how to wake the elements up in your own actor’s body);
• An understanding of how the elements fuel people (how do the elements trigger people in their actions?);
• Discovering the elements as an integrated force in your body rather than a singular energy (there is not one single element for one person, they function in correlation and feed one another >> how do the elements interact with each other and what does it produce?);
• An understanding of how the elements work systematically in human communication (what are the patterns in which people interact with each other and how do the different elements influence these patterns?);
• A specific approach to creating characters with the elements (what is the secret element, the private element, the display element and the coaching element of your character?);
• Creating an outcome from which you can use this training as a beneficial tool for your craft as an actor (how to use the language of the elements in a practical way).

There is a maximum of 12 participants for the workshop, so please RSVP as soon as possible (before 1 May 2008): First in, first served. Once you sign up, you will be asked to put in a $50 deposit to secure your placement. Please write down your full contact details (name, address, home phone, cell phone and email) in the email. You will be asked to memorize some text when time gets closer to the workshop.

Actors about the elements:

Renee Sheridan (The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Vagina Monologues, Hotel): "When playing a role, every actor has the desire to bring sense of truth, sincerity and gravitas to the character. When exploring the likes of Blanche Dubois and Amanda Wingfield with the methodology Willem employs, I was able to access and inhabit their qualities on such a deep and fundamental level inviting challenge and risk. The "elements" are a solid, tangible foundation on which the many colours of complexity are layered and reflected in their internal and external environments. I encourage anyone who’d like to enrich their craft to jump at the opportunity to take part in this workshop."

Dan Musgrove (Delicates, Antigone, Angels in America, Blinkers): "The elements is one of the clearest and most applicable rehearsal tools I’ve had the chance to use. It provides a quick doorway into the essence of a character, and rapidly creates interesting dynamics in a scene. It has inspired my practical approach to performance, and also offers a fantastic vocabulary for talking technically about the performances we see."

Kip Chapman (Big River, Equus, The Goat or Who is Sylvia, Arohaotearoa, The Hothouse, The Glass Menagerie): "Willem’s element work gave me the tools to create for myself a wonderful multi-layered world to work in and a full breathing character to work with. By working with his technique I had real confidence in the decisions I was making as my character; all the actors in the production had a common vision of the world we lived in and a strong sense of the relationships we had with each other. On a practical level Willem’s techniques gave us a language we could all use and understand and made the rehearsal process extremely valuable."

Brooke Williams (Porcelain Grin, The Crucible, The Pillow Man, Urine Town: The Musical, The Tempest, The Female of the Species): "The elements workshop is a challenging and invigorating experience for the actor. Not only is it a fabulous chance to develop one’s craft in a unique and exciting way, but it is also an intense period of self revelation and discovery which can feed an actor’s work immensely. For me this workshop was extremely rewarding as it gave me some simple yet highly effective practical tools to apply in my work in the industry. The element work has been the core tool that I have drawn on in my professional work, it is always my first stop when preparing for rehearsals or an audition."

Jess Robinson (The Glass Menagerie, The Dumb Show, A Streetcar Named Desire): "A lot of the time it can feel like the focus is too heavy on either the internal or the external worlds of the character but Wassenaar’s approach allows the actor to keep in touch with the internal without hiding from the physicality of the character. People are so complex and surprising. I think Wassenaar’s understanding of the elements allows for complex, surprising and exciting characters."

Ryan O’Kane (Insider’s Guide to Love, The Hothouse, A Streetcar Named Desire): "When I encountered the work myself I found that by exploring each elemental state, I was able to explore and experiment with the emotional states, and reactions of my character, as well as putting myself in the emotional and mental state of some of the other characters in the play. I found that by adopting or finding the elements that my character habitually uses/employs, I was able to find a physicality, a walk, a stance that then informed everything my character said and did."

Sophie Roberts (Delicates, Antigone, Angels in America, A Streetcar Named Desire): "I have found that the Elements provide a clear and immediate pathway to character, rhythm, detailing and relationships. As an actor who has a tendency to over think certain processes, I have found this is a process that works for me. Once you have an understanding of this method, it allows you to bypass internal clutter and have simple, fast access to your work. The reason I have found this work to be so effective lies in the way it simultaneously extends you physically, emotionally and mentally, requiring you to work to your fullest potential as an actor."

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