Alongside talent and enthusiasm for the material, anyone who studies acting at the Max Reinhardt Seminar need two things above all: good organisation and discipline. Students have to keep up with a busy schedule from the very beginning: alongside regular instruction and rehearsals for in-house (diploma) productions as well as outside engagements, there’s often little time for anything else. And especially from the third year onward, the practical stage work that accompanies regular instruction grows constantly more important. Shortly before Christmas, third-year student Maren-Sophia Streich gave us some insight into an acting student’s typical day.
At 8:45 am, the academic day in Penzing begins with speech work under the guidance of Annett Matzke. This includes dealing with the relationship between breath, body, voice, and language.
It’s followed by body work with Daniela Mühlbauer. The students warm up with a sun salutation and continue with some improvisation exercises. Each of the students chooses an animal, as which they then do improvised moves with an eye to physicality, their bodies’ rhythms, and exaggeration of their animals’ characteristics; various aspects of these things will come in handy later on in working on specific roles. In this course, discussions as a group are just as important as the instructors’ input.
Following a quick break, we’re expected by actor Roland Koch. Today’s coaching focus is on Sonya’s text from Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, with the point being to bring more directness to the role and also to include an element of irritation. As they work, Roland Koch provides frequent feedback. The two schedule their role coaching from week to week because acting jobs, film shoots, and rehearsals on both ends make it virtually impossible to meet at a regular time.
After role coaching, Maren takes some time to write down notes. This kind of follow-up is very important to her because it helps the work they’ve just done to really sink in—and because it gives her something to refer to and reflect upon later.
Now it’s time for lunch. A long, relaxed lunch break like today’s isn’t always possible, because this is often when last-minute extra rehearsals get scheduled—like for diploma productions.
The afternoon begins with a singing lesson. And by early evening, it’s time for something special: final-year students are introducing themselves to an audience of drama professionals with monologues and scenes at Schlosstheater Schönbrunn. Since Maren has her own such audition presentation coming up next year, she pays close attention to how things go for her colleagues.
While the audition presentations by graduating students at the Schlosstheater are still in full swing before a packed house, Maren has to leave and make her way to the Vokstheater. She’s currently performing there together with other Max Reinhardt Seminar students in Anna Badora’s production of Iphigenie in Aulis.
Maren uses the time between makeup and her stage appearances to do some reading: the theory and history of theatre are very important to her, as is getting to know new plays, and her daily routine leaves her with far too little time for such things.
A busy day is finally over when Maren gets home at about 11 pm and goes through tomorrow’s calendar entries. When she doesn’t have a performance in the evening, she often likes to go to a café and work on her roles—or on a play together with a director with whom she’s friends. And now and again, she’s also glad to meet friends who may or may not have to do with the theatre or her studies—or to just spend an evening relaxing at home.