Monday, July 11, 2011


Today in Daily Practice we learned foreward rolls!!! They are like a dive forward into the ground with a tuck and a roll. SUPER FUN! Tomorrow I will have someone tape me, so i can show y'all.

My goals for this is week are to get a consistent head stand and to be able to hold a handstand for more than a split second. WE SHALL SEE!

This week is about the EMBODIED VOICE. With Joan we worked on focusing on where we hold tension. We practiced getting in and out of  a chair,  to see where we hold tension. Joan is working on the Alexander Method with us right now. She is: 1. Increasing our awareness, 2. Helping us to "stop ourselves from doing what we don't want to do with our body" (our inhibitions), 3. Direction. We focused our energy on our loins (the space between your bottom rib and pelvic bone, and how it moves as we move. We then paired up with a partner. We each took turns talking. The listener was to start in second circle (invested and alert) and move to first circle (withdrawn back into yourself, half (if that) interested) and then listen in third circle (aggressive listening). She equated this to the conversation an actor has with an audience. How do you react when the audience is in first circle. It was frustrating to keep talking when the listener was clearly not interested, or when they were in third circle, i felt judged and that everything i said had to be 'right'.

Ronlin taught our afternoon class because Joan had the flu and couldn't come back for our afternoon class. He talked to us about our Performance lab from Friday. Several people were disheartened by how the performance went. During our discussion, a couple people  said that they felt like they couldn't 'get it right'. Ronlin responded: maybe we did it exactly how we were supposed to so we would have things to talk about and learn from. HOW WONDERFUL! Seriously, it is so great hearing that...and it is so true. There is no such thing as perfection. So we just have to observe and learn from the theatre that is around us. He did say that we gave into various theatre conventions. He said that here at Dell'Arte improvisation leads to finding a dynamic reality so it can be played over and over again. NO CONVENTIONS, he said, but all things are possible in context. We should not do something just because we have a bag of tricks. We should use an implicit engagement of the body and space. Not an explicit demonstration of form. We should not propose a style, but an engagement. He said that at Dell'Arte, they are not interested in  teaching us techniques...but how to create new technique for what we want to say.  One more time: At Dell'Arte,  they aren't interested in teaching us techniques...but how to create a new technique for what we want to say. We have to make a new set of pliers for every new piece we are creating.

After our discussion, we worked on two minimum to maximum exercises. In the first one, the person had to talk about a made up thesis. They had to start off small and reserved and then gradually work their way to be totally passionate this would drive them to anger, happiness, sadness etc. and they just had to let goooooo and go crazy...then see us in the audience and let a moment of stillness and awkwardness just BE. This process is a continual shedding of tensions to allow the play animate us. The moment of stillness is what Philippe Gaulier calls this time "waiting for the angel to pass" allow the time to play itself. We need to be able to allow ourselves to be totally with an audience and not feel fear or shame. Ronlin said that being afraid calls for courage, but we have to ride out shame. There is no getting around it. We have to ride shame as if it were a ski jump. Shame can't be evaded. Shame engages and plays. Desire is what is going to keep moving us through life.

The second minimum to maximum exercise is part of the Showers that Carlo created. It is another minimum to maximum exercise. Two people are seated facing one another. One starts of laughing while the other is crying. They have to match each others intensity and work their way from minimum to maximum. At the peak they switch and work their way back down. We looked at how we demonstrate laughter, crying, fear and anger. Try it. Show: Laughter, crying, fear and anger. I bet you had a similar body position for each one. They probably all had tension in the shoulders and neck. This exercise works on supporting each with the diaphragm.  The laugh/cry comes from the physiological, not the psychological. When we honestly convey each one, the switch at the peak is metaphysical. In order to get one of the students to cry with their diaphragm, rather than his throat he had him sit on his lap. He had to cry on Ronlin's shoulder. It was amazing. He didn't have to dig deep to create an As If or anything to make him cry. The physical positioning and support was enough to move us, those watching to believe something tragic happened. I nearly cried watching this, it was beautiful. 

Physical theatre is not clown and mime and doing weird things with your is about understanding things with your body first...then with your mind.

Book to read: The Art Spirit by Robert Henry

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