Saturday, July 16, 2011


I am so sorry I am late! I have so much to talk about! It has truly been an inspirational couple of days. I am gonna just talk about EVERYTHING so...get comfy! (exciting part at the end!)

I will start off this blog with a quote from Joan:  

"If I'm thinking about loosening my neck, opening my throat to speak, being responsive, and communicating this idea, I don't have time to worry about whether I'm any good or not." 

"Every sound in the theatre is valuable. Let go of what you think you SHOULD sound like" 

She went on to tell us about theatre and how many are in it 'to be seen'. But really, it isn't about being seen by the audience, but how we can best serve a story. How we can become a voice for the character we are embodying. I love the selfless approach this school enforces on it's actors. I feel like we have all heard this speech before. But here, it shines through in  every work, class and way professors, faculty and full time students of this school act towards the work and with one another. It is beautiful. 

In continuing to work with the Alexander Method, we did several exercises that are about total release from the tensions we hold in our bodies. For one of the exercises we were put into groups of three. One person (person A) rested on their hands and knees. Another would hold Person A's head and the other would hold their stomach, making sure both were completely released. In this position, it helps you to breathe more deeply. We had to count to ten (1, 1-2, 1-2-3, 1-2-3-4 etc) and then speak out text. It was so strange, it must have been that i was breathing more deeply or more connected to my breath or SOMETHING because the voice I heard did not sound like or feel like it was coming from me.  Coming out of it, I felt totally loosey goosey. I had no tensions at all and it felt like my voice was more grounded. If anyone is interested in experiencing this, let me know! I will be more than happy to assist! To end the class we were introduced to another method of stretching/releasing called The Feldenkrais Method. Here is more information: Feldenkrais Method. By the end of class, I felt like i grew a foot. It was great! 

For Daily Practice we were told we were going to do something completely different....and they weren't kidding. Instead of our normal workout/acrobatics...we had an hour long movement jam session. It was beautiful and amazing and I have never felt as close with a group of people as I did after this. I will explain. We were instructed to lay on the floor. We then had to let our eyeballs lead us to a point in the room or person and have the rest of our body follow. Music was added: MUSIC! What began as moving from one point to another turned into a an hour long movement piece. We all worked with one another, moved around the space as separate entities with a mind for the whole. It was really beautiful. None of us had a plan or knew what we were doing. It felt like going into a trance and out of this a beautiful story emerged. Love stories, rivalries, war, fighting for survival, assisting one another, funerals, celebrating, mourning and many others emerged. We had to totally rely on and trust one another. Many times we all slowly came together in the middle to create a dynamic and beautiful picture. We were all committed. It was so amazing how a group of individuals, not even knowing what the exercise really was, could work together to create in the moment like that. We would never be able to replicate the magic that happened in the same exact way. I like to think of how bands get together to jam. This is the physical actor's way of  jamming. We ended up going through the entire Gladiator soundtrack. Sweaty and out of breath we held our ending pose for a solid minute. Some people were carrying someone, others were in a pile, I was in an embrace. It was as if we needed each other to survive....and in many ways, we do. MORE MUSIC TO ACCOMPANY YOUR READING!

The program and progression of events is so planned out and is done in a way that is magical here. It was good that we had such an intense bonding experience, because in our next class we had to sing in front of each other! eep! We began with a warm up (rolling on the ground letting out sound) and then working up to sustained sound. Our class split up, half on one side of the room and the other half on the other side. One side would match the pitch Joan played on the piano and sustain the note as we were releasing the sound we had to move our bodies as if we were telling the people across the room a juicy secret. They had to mirror our movements. This was nice because it got me out of my head about whether or not I was hitting the note. In the next exercise we were elves...releasing on a EEEE we had to match the note Joan played on the piano. We were to walk around the space as needy elves and tell each other juicy secrets. Next we were Opera singers about to sing our Aria. We had to parade around the room and then release on DIVAAAAAA matching the note. We then had to look around the room and react to the others in the room. Finally, we had to cross the room three times. First, we had to picture our head was a basin of water and we had to vibrate the water in our head. While crossing, we could not let any water slosh out of the basin.  Second, our chests were water basins and finally, our guts. For me, the gut basin was the hardest to vibrate. I knew we were going to have a singing day. It was what I was THE MOST nervous about in coming here. But not once did I feel like I was in an unsafe environment. I definitely have a lot I still need to work on, but I am ready!

SOOOOOOOOOoooOOO now onto our PERFOMRANCE LAB! As you may recall we had to create a place or event orally and aurally. My group originally planned to do a whole bathroom sequence where a person would enter, pee, poop, wash their hands, spray and leave. However, as we did research we found that just a toilet flush was complicated and beautiful in and of itself. SO THAT IS WHAT WE DID! We recorded several toilet flushes in the Dell'Arte training building. We then sat around replaying the recording over and over and over again trying to replicate the sounds with our mouths. Water on ceramic is a very difficult sound to make with just our body parts. But I think we did a good job! Ronlin and Joe loved the texture we had...Ronlin then said he had to fix the toilet hehehe.

This is the toilet we recorded for our research

Here is our toilet! We cut it down quite a bit, but tried to stay true the real timing of a toilet. One member of our group acted like a conductor so we could all be in sync.

One thing that was brought up throughout our different performances, was the difference between mechanical and organic sounds and how we keep them apart. The more specific groups are with their sounds the more successful they were. The project was about perfecting resonance, articulation and texture. We had to resonate an entity rather than imitate and incidental sound. Question to ask yourself about this project an about characters: What is the dramatic quality of the thing I'm observing?


The last show in the Mad River Festival is a show called Three Trees. Joe and Stephanie (two of the professors I have had here) and another professor here at Dell'Arte, Lauren acted in it, and Ronlin directed. They created their clowns in a workshop led by Ronlin and eventually devised a piece called Bluff. Starting in August they began working on three trees. They kept their characters and relationship to one another and even some bits. Here is a synopsis from the Dell'Arte website and program:

Ten years after their debut as a clown trio at Dell’Arte, Joe Krienke, Stephanie Thompson and Lauren Wilson return to the stage in a brand new work of clown theater. “Three Trees” tells the story of three circus clowns who defy their country’s militarism and lust for war, unleashing the subversive power of laughter through the hilarity of their routines.

When war breaks out and the military takes command of society, the clowns create a routine so funny it paralyses the rank and file with laughter. What if, instead of following orders, soldiers began to laugh hysterically at those who gave them? What would become of war, and of those who caused such laughter in the first place?

A mixture of rollicking clown routines, metaphysical humor and poetic theatrical imagery, “Three Trees” is a powerfully funny and poignant celebration of the clown, and of the irreverent power of laughter in the face of military insanity.

In the talk back they told us that they would get together for three hours everyday and jam. Someone would bring in a proposal or a script (Lauren is also a playwright) and they would try the scene as it is written and then develop it. The laughing and physicality of it, they said was the hardest. It was so beautiful and tragic, i couldn't help but tear up and cry and couple times throughout the piece. Their characters were so specific. Every nuance and tactic was played full out, they never dropped out. I saw the show twice. The show morphed with the change of audience energy. It was so amazing how they were able to do that! Under Ronlin's direction they brought even more focus on the character and bringing character to the forefront. After all a play is about CHARACTERS. From character, relationships were created and from there, routines. Because of the nature of the clown intentions in relationships became cyclical. This makes the work so rich and moving.

For a while I have been trying to come up with way to do a show in red nose. Clowns are a beautiful entity. They are able to tell some of the most poignant stories and touch on topics that humans just can't quite reach. There is a beautiful quote posted in the bathroom here at Dell'Arte. It says:
"The genius of clowning is transforming the little, everyday annoyances, not only overcoming, but actually transforming them into something strange and terrific. It is the power to extract mirth out of nothing and less than nothing." ~Grock
After seeing this show and going through this workshop, the once spark of wanting to devise a clown show has become a wildfire. I have not been able to sleep at night because I can not stop thinking about it. Congress of the Clowns by Joel Schnecter (*wink wink*) was a suggested read from Joe on some research they had done that was beneficial for them. If any of you have any suggestions or ideas or stories about clowning  please share them with me! I would love to hear anything and everything about it! 
"The clown has great importance as part of the search for what is laughable and ridiculous in man. We should put the emphasis on the rediscovery of our own individual clown, the one that has grown-up within us and which society does not allow us to express."
Jacques Lecoq
Aerial Silks! My other new addiction. After just one week of pushups, handstands, back bends and Ab Ripper...I could feel a tremendous difference in what I was able to do this week versus last week. I was able to climb the silks and hold myself up to do (and attempt to do) new tricks. We are planning on going again on Wednesday. I CANNOT wait! I hope I can keep up with this after I leave here. 

Thank you for enduring this long blog. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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