old girl, new city

29th March 2014

Looking after your body is super important and is something that I am continually learning about. Sure, I work out and eat well but over the past six weeks, I’m beginning to learn that that isn’t quite enough.

I’m not very good at sleeping. At night, I have a lot going on in my brain (and on my computer) and find it difficult to scrape even seven hours. And with my eating, I either don’t do enough of it (random snacks instead of meals) or I don’t do it well (not 100% healthily).

Tonight I had to say no to going out with my friends because my body finally said no. This is so annoying to me because I hate being left out of things and love to keep busy. But my body is telling me to slow down and rest, and I need to finally listen. Lesson learnt. 

28th March 2014

Today we finished our three week acting intensive with our tutor Jonty, who is leaving to attend an acting school home in Auckland for a few months. This intensive unit has been really amazing and eye-opening for me in terms of self-discovery and the way I watch my classmates.

I have learnt a lot about risk and bravery over the last few weeks. Something that I have struggled with in the past in acting is that I always want to have everything perfect straight away and to not look silly and mortal in front of my class. What I mean by that is that I always want to present good and polished work and am so willing to work hard for it but don’t want my class to see me make offers and fail in the process  In my time at Toi already, my class is creating a culture of the beauty of failure and how fucking up is beneficial for everybody. We call these affirmations “dare to suck” and “care less”. 

It’s something that I am still struggling with at times but am learning to come to terms with. Today in reflection, Jonty commented that he had seen me struggle earlier in the unit by trying to fit in with everybody else by doing what they were doing - a totally safe choice. Then in character improvisation, he said that he saw me doing bizarre and “different”, outlandish things from everybody else in order to get myself where I needed to be for the work.

I guess this is important because so often I find myself wanting to pick the safer choice - Trying to fit in or not making that offer or not speaking up. And the acting unit really helped me to come out of that and I hope this continues into our new screen work (eek!) next week and into the rest of my training and practice. 

25th March 2014

Today I walked home with a friend of mine in my acting class and she made a comment that I’ve grown and improved and become a lot braver since we started. We only started six weeks ago.

The fact that I could change without noticing is really exciting and scary and something really beautiful. The fact that other people are noticing this change for the better is something that humbles me and I am grateful to be somewhere where I can change everyday and learn so so much.

Her telling me this was just a really positive, necessary affirmation. Blessed.

20th March 2014

Yesterday the first and second year actors met and we spoke about how we’ve both been settling in since starting five weeks ago. We spoke to what our expected image was coming into the school and if/how that has changed or been challenged.

My classmate Frankie said something that stood out to me and has sat with me since then. (Frankie if you’re reading this, this is totally paraphrasing so please forgive me!) She said that she had come into the school completely ready to work super hard and to focus, to have the tutors push her to her limit and to break her spirit, so to speak.

Upon discovering her newly-found freedom found in going to an institution like Toi Whakaari, Frankie said that she found it hard to discipline and push herself when it wasn’t somebody pushing her to make her work hard and focus, and that “I have to break my own spirit”, and the fear that this idea induced. This idea totally resonated with me because I have experienced the exact same thing in which complete freedom and adulthood has caused me personally to make silly choices.

At the end of the day, we have to push ourselves and all take responsibility for our own learning because MY progress is MY priority and nobody else’s. That’s important to remember.

19th March 2014

Last week we started our ‘Actor in Action’ intensive, which means a block (three weeks) of acting exercises with our tutor, Jonathan Hendry. This learning has proved to be difficult and wonderful.

One thing I was struggling with in last week’s work was getting up on the floor and generating offers. I felt as though my offers were shit, unoriginal and not fresh. I thought they would not contribute to the class’ work and that I was not being useful to the group.

This was evident on our second day of work where we were working with The Seagull. I hardly got up to work at all that afternoon for the reasons aforementioned.

I spoke to a second year after class who told me that you just have to get up, and that he set a goal last year to always be one of the first three people up to work. This helped me in my next classes because I decided to get up as much as possible and get worked.

This week, I also struggled with comparing myself to my classmates. They had seemingly brilliant ideas when they worked and I was supremely jealous because my offers weren’t as funny or original or stimulating. I guess that I see my classmates (particularly the females older than myself) as these really cool, experienced and wise people who have much better ideas and a wider understanding of the work and I didn’t want to seem like a silly little child in comparison to them, hence not getting up to work as much as I could have. 

After a while though, I sort of had to get over myself and just get up and do the work and understand why I’m here, why I’m training at the national drama school, why I chose to be in this classroom.

I guess this was my logic: At the end of the day, I’m not paying $7000+ to sit around and sulk about how I’m not good enough. And if I’m not getting up to work, I’m only cheating myself and will only be letting myself down. And that’s not the reason I came to train at this school.

2nd March 2014

By the second day of studying at the National Drama School, I had already hit a personal block. One of many that I’m sure will trip me up over the next three years (remaining positive, though!)

Whenever we had sessions in which we could contribute our thoughts, opinions and ideas about something, I felt that everybody was way too intelligent for me and that I had nothing of worth to put forward.

Even the new people in my class/in my year seemed to have really great and smart things to say, and I had nothing. I felt that I couldn’t contribute without making myself look like a dumb fool and making the tutors wonder why they offered me a place in the school and without making my class wonder how I got in.

One thing I had to keep reminding myself to get through this block was that my progress is my own. Everybody develops at different paces and just because I didn’t feel comfortable contributing didn’t mean that I wasn’t smart enough to. All of this made me realize that in my training, I need to work on ways to develop and articulate my thoughts and theatrical languages into something that makes sense to others, but more importantly, makes sense to me.

It’s all about my learning and attending this school is an incredible opportunity — I can’t waste that time sulking about how stupid I feel. Broadway actress Sierra Boggess once said the following quote and I feel that it’s wonderful and so fitting: You have nothing to prove, only to share. Best wishes xx K

22nd February 2014

And so ends my first week at Toi Whakaari!
It’s been crazy and I have a hangover — in every sense of the word (no but seriously, we had our O Week party last night and things got hectic).

So the week started off with a powhiri. I literally could not sleep the night before but it turned out to be okay; We all met beforehand and although there was a long wait, it helped to settle the nerves. The powhiri was really humbling and I felt very lucky to be welcomed into such an acclaimed institution with a group of my peers who matched my nerves.

Each day started with a physical warm up: usually yoga, often dancing, always sweating. On the second day, we watched the second year students perform some work that had been set at the end of 2013 which was really interesting. Later in the week, we had to make our own pieces in groups with students across all disciplines (directing, acting, design, entertainment technology etc), but not before the home pieces.

Okay, so some context — After we all were accepted into the school, everybody received a letter saying that we basically had to make an ‘offer’ to the school based on a provocation about home. It didn’t have to be a performance but it was still difficult for everybody as we didn’t know what to offer. It turned out being SUPER okay though. Every first year student got up and just spoke freely about what home means to them. Some people had objects/props of some sort but there was such a feeling of connection that really helped to bond the first years with the rest of the school.

For the remainder of the week, we worked in groups across disciplines to create a performance offer based on our experiences throughout the week. This proved difficult at times because there are the obvious personal differences, but I myself have an independent thinking process and sometimes struggle to keep up with people. However, I think in the end we created adequate work that communicated our feelings about the week.

We start the REAL work on Monday with voice and movement. I am excited but also incredibly nervous. I’m very blessed and happy to have survived the first week and I just want to keep my sanity this year.

15th February 2014

It’s been a while! I’ve been living quite comfortably in Wellington for two weeks now, and the last few months has felt like such a blur.

In my last few days of living in Auckland, I was constantly at parties and get-togethers and catch-ups and whatever.. Then when I got to Wellington, it was sort of a reality check. I didn’t know anybody here. I wasn’t used to not having dozens of friends, and I certainly wasn’t used to living on my own. It has been an entirely strange, yet interesting experience.

I’m living in a flat/apartment above a dairy. Hilarity and binge eating ensues. My flatmates have been kind enough — I live with two males and one female. All older than me, and a good demographic mix. I just try to keep to myself but at the same time, try to be polite and respectful and catch up with them once a day, and to respect their privacy.

It’s been an extremely slow two weeks in many ways. I’ve been setting up my bedroom, majorly procrastinating an assignment due on the first day of uni (!!!) and seeing plays. Just to fill time. I even went on a date with a guy I really like (..don’t think he’s into me though. That, however, is a whole other story). I start uni in less than 48 hours. That fucking freaks me out. I am very, very nervous. So incredibly nervous.

One of my male roommates is in the year above me at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School. He is constantly telling me stories about his experience so far; How there has been major ‘beef’ and bitchiness, how difficult it is etc etc. He’s been telling some real horror stories but a consistent theme is that everybody melds together. I hope he’s right, for my year at least.

Oh, and I’m currently living on $4 until next Thursday. Which, you know, is just delightful. Anyway, until next time. xxx K

30th January 2014

Huzzah! My Studylink allowance was FINALLY approved after being declined the first time around. I’m entitled to $211.84 a week, $130ish of which will go to rent. Thank goodness, that news honestly took a load off and made me feel physically lighter.

I move to Wellington this weekend. My dad is coming up in a pickup truck to take me down and I’m extremely nervous. I really don’t want to be one of those annoying flatmates who is anti-social and plays loud movies and whatever, but I am also a person who needs time and space to themselves.

Also, I’ll be living down there for two weeks before my course even starts. Which seems fucking ridiculous because I know that I’ll be existing and not living, just waiting for school to start which sort of really sucks. But I have a school to go to and an apartment to live in, so I shouldn’t complain really.

23rd January 2014

So I’m moving to Wellington on Sunday 2 February - At least I hope I do! My date keeps being pushed back. My father and my stepmother offered to drive from Palmerston North to Auckland to Wellington, which is super amazing and helpful of them because moving trucks (especially across the country) are so so expensive, especially when you’re a poor student like I am.

Speaking of poor student, Studylink is still being difficult. They denied my allowance application, so I’m having to re-apply and wait with bated breath as to whether or not that comes through. Fingers and toes and everything crossed to get that “application approved” notice!

As for going to the actual school itself, I have to say that I’m terrified through and through. I’m constantly hearing drama school horror stories about how difficult and soul-breaking it is, and it’s just making me more nervous than usual. I don’t want to fuck this up, I don’t want to get behind, I just want to work my hardest and excel and it’s difficult for me not to compare myself to my peers but I know that I absolutely cannot this year, I can’t let my ego inflate or be particular.

Anyway, I’m trying to distract myself from that and just focus on moving down. I’m really excited for it, but in honestly I’m quite sad to be leaving my family, who are now spread out (Auckland, Australia and Wellington). I wish uni was home in Auckland!