Early October sees the start of another of our eight-week acting courses, this time focusing on Greek Tragedy.

The course offers you insight into the topic, instruction on dramatic technique, and introduction to the in situ: approach to theatre performance. The course is open to everyone, absolute beginners as well as those with more experience.

Course leader and Artistic Director Richard Spaul explains: “We’re keen for everyone to learn about Greek Tragedy and how to perform it… that said, our main aim is simply to build enthusiasm and excitement for the art of acting.”

This is what twelve in situ: course participants have to say about their previous experiences. All these contributors have followed their involvement in the course or courses they have attended by appearing in one or more in situ: productions.

What first attracted you to in situ: courses?

I liked the thought of using a different part of my brain… having the opportunity to be creative… having just moved to the UK, I wanted to get cultural references… finding out if I could act and enjoy it… doing something different from my day job… doing something different from ‘am-dram’… expressing stuff I couldn’t express in other parts of my life… working with an enthusiastic supportive group.

I’d never done anything like this before… I saw an in situ: performance last year and wanted to be part of it… I used to work in the theatre, and after a 50 year absence wanted to find my way back… I joined an in situ: course 25 years ago and have stayed ever since!

Whats good about in situ: courses?

“Simply learning how to act… continuing to develop my performing skills… trying out new techniques… engaging with texts I don’t know, or with ones I know but want to know more deeply… exploring how to be a performer.

“One of the best things is connecting with people… being with people I perhaps wouldn’t normally meet… I like the collaboration… there are no ‘stars’ in the company… always working together… great, enriching camaraderie.

The courses take such a wonderfully non-traditional approach… we are always trying new things… the course helped me discover my playful side in a way most adult life doesn’t.

“Richard himself is an inspiring actor, director as well as teacher.

Whats challenging about the courses?

“What we do is often way outside my comfort zone – but in a very positive way.

We are often asked to be creative in a terrifyingly short time frame – but we always have space, help, guidance.

“We’re constantly expected to step forward and contribute – but everyone gets equal time, equal opportunity, equal support.

“We’re asked to push the boundaries of what we can do – but if you mess up, it doesn’t matter, it’s not important, everybody’s there with you.

“We are never discouraged. Always encouraged.

What actually happens – whats in each session?

“Richard’s own acting expertise and experience shines through everything

“We start with games to help us learn to concentrate, cooperate and work as a group… we might focus on physiology, body language, voice… explore the mental and the emotional… create and perform characters… work with learned text… improvise from scratch… be asked to act within boundaries such as a tiny square space… use a single text in many different scenes with different people with different groups, and with different meanings…watch each other perform then develop a creative response to what we’ve seen and heard.

“It’s all aimed at mastering skills, building confidence, developing us as performers both individually and as a member of the in situ: company.

Whats been the impact of in situ: courses on your life in general?

“I’ve always wanted to act and through in situ: I found what I needed. It’s really precious to me.

“I’ve learned a wide variety of acting techniques and gained huge amounts of insight.

“English isn’t my first language and in situ: has given me excellent ways of using language when I speak publicly.

“From shy, I’ve become confident.

“I’ve become more creative in a way I am not in normal life.

“I’ve just qualified in a new career. and the course gave me an experience of ‘body and mind’ which has helped me hugely.

“The courses create a change of belief which brings out the best in the soul.

“The course has given me a layer of professionalism in acting that I didn’t have before.

“We may all have other commitments, but we are very very professional.

Describe in situ: courses in single words or phrases.

Exciting… Stretching… Inspiring… Exhilarating… Rewarding… Creative… Self-love… Emotional-realisation… Invigorating… Positive… Supportive… Challenging… Dangerous… Empowering… Life-enhancing… Fun…

What would you say to anyone thinking of signing up to the upcoming in situ: course on Greek Tragedy?

“I would say: come and be amazed by yourself and what you can do… learn a range of different and unconventional performance styles… Greek theatre is modern and relevant – you’ll learn and enjoy… release your creative potential… learn a range of skills… learn how to be confident in public… if you’ve not done theatre before you’ll be welcomed… if you have done theatre before you’ll be welcomed… face your fears and be brave… above all, go for it!

These are the (lightly-edited and with repetitions removed) words of: Anne Murray, Boris Mayger, Gary Mooney, Jennifer Shea, John Cooter, Kat Nuttall, Paul Paxton, Mat Wollerton, Maxine Fay, Silvano Squizzato, Susan Quilliam, Tim Penton; All are members of the in situ: company who performed The Master Builder Project in July 2023.

The Greek Tragedy course runs as follows:

Date: Mondays October 16 to December 4 2023 at 20.00-22.00
Venue: St. Andrews Hall, Church Street, Chesterton, Cambridge CB4 1DH
Cost: £240 for eight two-hour group lessons.

It is a stand-alone course but there are two further courses in January and May 2024 which develop the topic and lead to (optional) involvement in a public performance in summer 2024.