We took some time out with session leader of Shetland Youth Theatre Company (SYTC), Stephenie Pagulayan. Stephenie is also the Artistic Director of ALICE Theatre Project.

What have you been working on with the company this year so far?

We started our academic year with exploring basic stagecraft followed by some introductory workshops on theatre practitioner techniques such as Stella Adler, Sanford Meisner, Bertolt Brecht and Konstantin Stanislavski. In Spring the company chose a text from a selection of 3 which we then used to explore acting, staging and directing technique and apply some of the acting theories we had learned in our previous two terms. Since taking our classes online we have held virtual workshops exploring how actors create emotional connection to character and looking at subtext in performance.

We know you've also been looking at 'voice' with SYTC. Can you tell us a bit about finding voice within a character?

This is a topic I could speak on forever so I will try to control myself! As a practitioner I have a particular focus on how actors identify and portray 'truth' in their performance. I am fascinated by the process of creating multi-layered characters. As human beings we are not flat 2D entities. We are complex multifaceted creatures and what we say with our words does not always correspond with what we do physically or indeed with what we are feeling. Theatre practitioners such as Stanislavski and his peers researched for decades how actors can use techniques to achieve honest and effective portrayal and these theories continue to evolve and develop in contemporary theatre. In Shetland Youth Theatre Company we enjoy experimenting with these proven techniques and sometimes discovering our own. Everyone relates to a different style of character work, and our classes provide the ideal opportunity to experiment, explore and create in a safe, structured learning environment.

How are you finding working from home - are there any challenges?

There are lots of challenges! It has been a real shift for me as so much of the work I do is people focussed. Some of my work has been able to adapt and shift to a new virtual environment, and some of it hasn't. I'm learning to be ok with that and go with the flow. For the most part the challenges have brought about positive changes. It has been good to find new ways of connecting with people, learn how to work new technology and reprioritise and rethink the work I do. I am grateful for the opportunity to spend time with my family at home and virtually and I am grateful to be part of such a positive and supportive community, both professionally and geographically!

When you're not teaching with SYTC, what do you do to relax? Have you taken up any new hobbies or activities?

I love to write and it isn't something I have time to indulge in very often. I have a lovely friend who has set up a creative Facebook group and when I have a moment, I enjoy responding to her daily challenges. I'm also working on expanding a one-act play I wrote last year into a three-act which wasn't planned! It needs a fair bit of research so it's nice to have a focus. Home-schooling also prompted me to create daily ALICE At Home activities for my theatre business which have been a joy to develop with my 8 year old daughter, precious time with her is the silver lining in this situation.

Are there any dramas or theatre pieces online that you'd recommend we watch?

I have to confess I haven't had a moment to watch any of the great plays on offer! This weekend, play watching is my goal! I am waiting in anticipation for the RSC offering to the BBC Culture in Quarantine festival. They have announced that they will release 6 plays over the coming weeks, Macbeth, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello and The Merchant of Venice and I hope to watch all of these! I love Shakespeare but don't have much opportunity to watch stage versions so this will be a real treat! If you ever come across Andrew Scott's version of Hamlet, I can't recommend this highly enough. I have yet to find it online again, but it was originally broadcast on the BBC so I live in hope that it will be on again soon! His portrayal was magnificent. TV wise the BBC series Fosse/Verdon is a theatrical treat! Loads of stylised musical references, fabulous dancing and superb acting by Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell.

To find out more about attending Shetland Youth Theatre Company in future terms, please email [email protected].

ALICE Theatre Project delivers and supports acting skills, performance coaching and creative theatre classes and workshops in Shetland. To find out more, visit alicetheatreproject.com or find ALICE on Facebook.

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