Monday, October 5, 2009

Shakuntala Character Propositions

This Sunday we started our first round of sharing character propositions for Shakuntala. It was exciting to see Magis actors integrate the mudras, the bhavanas, the eye work and various poses from the Bharatanatyam workshop with Saju, into ourselves, as we began to play with different characters and scenarios from the script. When George asked us to look at the script and bring in a 60 second proposition, I felt like it was impossible, where to start? Which mudra? Which character? We have a tremendous supply of both!

I began by working on the dance steps, and I found myself obsessed with the jumping and the walking. I'm wondering if we will incorporate the Saju walk for all of the characters, and if we do, I think we all need to practice walking that way a little bit every day so that it becomes natural for us, in the same way that George wrote about the mudras becoming natural out of repetition. I spent a good amount of time just walking at different speeds with the Saju walk, imagining myself as different characters. I contrasted the paces of the hermits and the palace dwellers.

Then I focused on the jumping that we do in the dance piece. Saju often said that we needed to jump, "Really jump!" I slowed down the dance just to work on jumping, and didn't worry about the arms. In doing this, I realized that I need to spend some time each day working on TA-KI-TA and the different beat counts, because if I don't, I will forget it. I think that the different footwork and the different number of beats could be a spark for character development.

While watching everyone present their propositions with mudras and various poses and gestures, I felt encouraged to trust my soul body, and trust what my intuition brings to me as a way of finding direction in where to start with a character proposition. I've also found George's advice of listening to the music to be super helpful. Rudresh and his fellow band members create rich and emotionally provocative music.



jarde said...

Yes I must say this is a very interesting intersection. Where we go from Saju's workshop to now using mudras to communicate ideas. The text's descriptive nature allows for a literal mudra interpretation, but as I saw Sunday there seems to be an endless array of scene scenarios.

I must say I found this blog encouraging and practical at the same time. To continue doing the movements and allow the mudras and the dance, to impress upon the psyche. I have been so consciously struggling to get it "right" that I have neglected to allow these this mudras for lack of a better word "live in me".


Anonymous said...

This blog entry proves to be a very insightful entry. Through encouragement of your self, you are encouraging all who read this to do the same. I definitely agree that the walk is crucial and essential to our integration of the Bharata natyam style. At what point does it become natural in our bodies to walk that way? And at what speed?

In regards to the mudras, both talked about here and also by George at training and on blog about how it's being incorporated into our daily lives and our natural gestural life:

isn't it wonderful?!?!?! Isn't this how it should be? Throughout our theatre and actor education we are taught to be specific. And isn't that exactly what this is? Instead of gestures that have no form, we are giving them shape and specificity without even knowing it.

The next challenge is, of course, application to character. How do the ladies differ between Shakuntala, Priyamvada, and Anusuya? The gents between the charioteer, the hermit, and the general? More exploration of the Mudras is a perfect place to start for me. For if we fully know an extensive vocabulary, than we have the versatililty to say and do many things...


George said...

Great insights, folks. Yes, the specificity of the physicality is the thing that keeps presenting itself again and again.
Nice call to even further specify with different characters. Maybe, bending the style a bit an working with the mudras as different centers. Does someone gesture from the head? the heart? the belly?
It will be interesting to see the possible permutaions as they arise.