Last weekend I was lucky enough to fill 1 of 16 available spots in Matthew Robinson's Singing Actor Workshop held in Sydney. Robinson is an award-winning composer/lyricist, and actor, and is the youngest recipient of Australia’s richest theatre-writing award, the Pratt Prize for Music Theatre. His winning musical, Metro Street, received its Australian and South Korean Premieres in 2009. Metro Street went on to be nominated for five Helpmann Awards. Robinson has recently returned from New York City readings of his latest musical Atlantis for Stephen Schwartz, Disney Theatrical Productions and Cameron Mackintosh Ltd.
The musical theatre based Workshop spanned over two-days, and aimed to develop the core skills of authentic storytelling through scene and song. Robinson provided a structured, nurturing and informative working environment for us to develop and grow as performers in the concentrated time that we had available.
During the first day we each brought our own narrative musical piece to the floor to workshop. Robinson spent time giving us individual direction in a masterclass style approach. His intimate, direct and passionate directing style improved our knowledge and understanding of our individual numbers by tenfold. Observing the performance styles of 15 other performers, and seeing the evolution of each one after Robinson's direction was extremely beneficial as a performer. I achieved a much greater understanding of how much work should go into characterisational research. I became less aware of worrying about vocally 'performing' my character (which is very common in Musical Theatre) and moved more towards 'being' my character (who just so happens to sing her dialogue). At the end of the day we were exposed to some contemporary Australian musical theatre by being assigned scene work, from Robinson's productions, to learn for the next day of workshop.
Day 2 consisted of a brief rehearsal of our assigned scenes before another master class style delivery of the material. Robinson gave us many tools with which to approach 'scene work' before a director steps in. I came away with the following points:
Know who you are
Whether it's your race, religion, age, family, sense of humour, or shoe size;
Know what you want
Every scene and song has to move somewhere. There must be a progressive outcome or purpose behind everything. Understand what that is; and
Trust your writer
Every word is written for a reason. Every syllable, every lyric has a purpose.
Robinson spent time in the afternoon discussing the Grants and Fellowships available to Australian performers, giving us drive and ideas for financial capability to move forward in our industry. To conclude the weekend, we workshopped the opening number from Robinson's new musical Atlantis (which sounds incredible by the way).
I came away feeling entirely uplifted, and driven to move my career forward. Robinson is a fantastic motivational role model, he is extremely knowledgeable and passionate in his craft, which makes him an ideal teacher.
Keep an eye out for future workshops with Robinson, I highly recommend aspiring musical theatre performers to work with this talented man!
MELBOURNIANS, YOU'RE IN LUCK!
Matthew Robinson is bringing his Workshop to Melbourne with a unique performance outcome!
This is a SPECIAL event for Melbourne –
It is a combination of the two day Singing Actor workshop and a unique performance outcome as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival. The aim is to develop skills, give access to Robinson's latest work, and give voice to unheard musical theatre talent.
THE WORKSHOP: Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd June
THE PERFORMANCE: Saturday 29th June, 4pm and 7pm as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival.
After the two days of workshop, each participant will be given a song from Robinson's catalogue, assigned a half-hour private coaching session, AND feature in an intimate one-act showcase as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival on the 29th of June! Get in there and apply, there are only 16 spots!
(Jealous I wasn't at this one.)