Leading with Law…

All of our teachers have experienced our training first hand as students and continue to work in the industry, as actors and directors. We spoke to tutor Law Ballard about her experience here at The AT, tips for nerves and what’s next…
What area of the AT work do you enjoy and connect with most?
I love the moment when an actor ‘gets’ the power of this technique, when they put their attention on their partner and their partner does the same and suddenly magic happens, where they are no longer thinking about trying to get it right or remember their lines, everything flows and they are riding the waves without caution. It’s quite something, and this can happen throughout the work at any stage, it just gets more often the more you practice.
What can students expect from the foundation to the core training?
They can expect to learn a solid craft, to be specific not generic in their acting which means they will need to learn the art of listening and responding, they will start to be more curious than before about human nature and how it unfolds the more you peel off the layers, they will become more embodied in their physical and emotional self rather than lead by their mind, and they will start to develop their actors faith and confidence in their instinct and to be able to work with impulse and be open to what happens in the moment and the magic of acting spontaneously.
What has been your greatest challenge as a tutor?
My greatest challenge is when a student continually struggles and i have tried everything i can think of to help or guide them!
What has been your greatest challenge as a director?
My greatest challenge as a director has been having limited time and finance to do what I would really like to do! The process I use is thorough and encompasses background work, research and improvisation to understand everything and get to the bare bones of the piece and this can’t really be rushed, so it’s frustrating at times.
If you could write a letter to your younger self what would you say?
Oh Lordie! I’d say what you are told from parents, teachers and siblings about whether you are intelligent, your body image, how you should feel, is mostly not true-it is your experience of life and your own reflection of beauty in life and nature that is, live by this and trust in it. Do not seek happiness, perfection, acceptance and permission from outside of yourself, it’s folly and will only serve to create a separateness between life and you.
Have faith in your creativity and express it whenever you can, the universe wants to support you in this! You are magnificent beyond your imagination and have the capacity for love and loving beyond your wildest dreams.
What in your experience makes AT unique?
It’s unusual in that it’s a specialised technique created, as far as I’m concerned, by a genius, Sanford Meisner. I think the AT travels really deeply into this way of working and it is thorough, challenging on a personal level and looks at acting as a real craft. We are concerned in every area of the students experience, we have mentoring for every student so they have support from someone who has gone through similar experiences and issues as them. I don’t think i know anywhere that gives this level of support. The teachers are all working actors and really understand the trials and tribulations of the industry and its pressures, as well as how to navigate a path that asks for continual personal compromise.
You are highly involved in the create project – why do you think creating new work is important?
I started the Create Project a few years ago as i wanted to give actors and writers the chance to work in this way, it is a unique way of working and is lead by improvisation to text rather than the other way around. Putting your hands and hearts in the creative process in this way is unusual as it relies upon entrusting the actors to do their jobs and improvise using a set of circumstances that have been worked out with the writer. The work that comes from this is absolutely incredible and all the writers have given testimony to the power of this way of working.
Do you have any advice to help deal with stage fright/nerves?
Notice what your mind or internal critic is saying to you before you lead up to rehearsal, by listening you will begin to hear the words that you tell yourself and with this knowledge you can start to question them, as they will be having a profound impact on how you feel about you being on stage and the lead up to this. Bring your attention to your body and notice how you feel not what your mind is telling you how you feel, if you can get in your body and listen to it you will have a chance in bypassing the negative messages our mind is having. Know your play/piece and do full preparation before you get there so you can rest in the knowledge that there is nothing left to do, this way the mind cannot get involved. Breath, check into how you feel, and connect with your cast in your heart and give them your full attention. Give yourself the gift of being free to do whatever your instinct tells you as it it always right.
What’s next for you?
I’m about to start a core training and then a second year/ Advanced training next month, so it’s all going to be pretty exciting stuff and new actors to meet and work with. I’ve got a few things in the pipeline including a new Create Project Called Normalcy, some directing and acting and then …who knows!
The Core Training (1st Year) with Law, starting March 25th: Mondays & Wednesdays 9:30am – 1:30pm
The Advanced Training (2nd Year) with Law, starting May 20th: Mondays & Wednesdays 2 – 6pm
For more information on either of these courses you can contact the studio on 0203 004 4537.
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