The Evening Class;Performance Studies;Mind and body

29th January 1999 at 00:00
Course requirements? Thirty pounds a term and an open mind. In return? A chance to perform at the biggest arts festival in the world.

The Tuesday evening performance class run by Cambridge Classworks Community Theatre is not amateur dramatics as such, and certainly not classroom learning as we know it. As one participant Jonathan Weallans explains: "You never know what is going to happen."

The classes, run by artistic director Rachel Aspinwall, aim to bring people together for a finished production. This may be an informal show for friends or a full-blown production at Edinburgh.

The course covers physical and voice skills, devising and staging the students' work, interpretation of text and, most importantly, how students can develop any latent sparks.

Classworks' administrative director Kathryn Lawrence remembers one occasion when an installation artist arrived bringing only a chair. "There was plenty of resistance to five weeks working with just a chair. But by the end, the work was fantastic and the entire group had grown in their understanding of themselves and performance." Not to mention chairs.

The classes always begin with a warm up to energise body and soul. this could involve a massage, a stage fight or Greek dancing. The exercises can be physically demanding and each participant needs to trust their fellows implicity when it comes to blindfolds or relying on someone to catch you when you fall. To improve vocal delivery there is plenty of shouting and singing and whispering.

The classes used to be for the 18 to 30s but now there are no limits: the oldest member is 50ish and there's a 5050 malefemale split.

Software engineer Shake Kearns says: "Classworks is unlike anything else. The emphasis is on growing. It's good to have performance as a goal but that is only a part of it."

This class took place at Cambridge Drama Centre, Covent Garden, Cambridge CB1 2HR. Tel: 01223 322748

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