Universiteit Leiden

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Summer Academy for Historical Acting

The Summer School for Historical Acting gives students the chance to learn the basic techniques of acting from the long eighteenth century.

Course information

Attitudes, gestures and rhetorical declamation suitable for the stage will be practiced using exercises from the period. Facial expression and affect will be studied in the context of short theatrical scenes. The goal is to give students tools for expressing spoken texts using appropriate historical techniques, which will in turn affect the sound, timing and impact of their performances. The daily lessons on gesture (Austin, Chironomia), declamation (Walker, The melody of speaking, delineated), walking, standing, sitting and even sleeping on stage (Jelgerhuis, Theoretische lessen) will all be based on historical sources. All faculty members are musicians and HIP musicians as well as actors are welcome. The focus will be exclusively on spoken texts, but musicians are encouraged to translate their experience in declamation and gesture into a rich and varied musical performance style.

Target audience

The course is recommended for HIP musicians interested in spoken text as well as for actors and stage directors interested in exploring historical sources without the pressure of immediately accommodating them to a commercial production. For those interested in 18th-century performative rhetoric, this course trains the voice, the body and the emotions. An intensive 10-day workshop offers an immersive introduction to the basics of 18th-century stagecraft. 

Class size

A maximum of 10 students will be admitted to the course. 

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