Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Working With Ragnar: Three Views

This past Sunday working with Ragnar Freidank, master teacher of Michael Chekhov Technique, brought new perspective to our own training and highlighted elements common to both that work well together.
In the first part of the session, Ragnar led us through personal exploration, almost as if we were inventing new "techniques." This felt freeing and clown-like, calling back the sense of wonder and joy that is so important in clown work. It also was a fresh way to access impulse in addition to the ways we have been working with impulse recently.
One of the first frames Ragnar asked us to consider was to imagine that we could see ourselves as we work and track where our attention goes as we work.
He mentioned three possible objects of focus: the "me" that has the idea of what to do, the "me" that does it, and the "me" that assesses how well it is going.
For me it was interesting in many ways. It seemed a good balance to go back and forth from one to another, and yet it revealed a prejudice. I found myself most pleased when I was "doing." And the inner voice of judgment seemed loudest when I was either in the "idea" me or the "assessing" me. So many teachers tell us not to think, yet Stanislavsky was always reminding his students that technique is a way to go to the unconscious through the conscious. But the prejudice against ideas and assessment seems to neglect these two important factors needed for a good balance.
How could I jump into doing without recognizing (with joy) the idea's source? Allowing myself to place my consciousness there occasionally reminded me of the presence of "Monsieur Marceau" in Gaulier's Clown Technique: if the clown is stuck and is not sure what to do, he simply asks his friend "M. Marceau, What should I do?" Of course anything the clown hears is right, the issue then becomes acting upon it and for how long.
Equally strong is the temptation to think that assessment would be stifling to the moment. But again in clown technique, it is only through a view of honestly assessing how well the process is going that we ever get to the clown's "drop"... that moment of honesty where the clown recognizes that there is trouble and then wiggles its way out of it in one way or another.
The trick seems to be able to float from any one of these views to the other without being tyrannized buy one sole view. Even if it seems to be the view with the most "freedom," if it is the only view and makes us neglect the other aspects then we need to let go even of this so-called freedom in the hopes of discovering a new freedom which includes all views without favoring one above the other, but allows each way of being to be useful to the process as a whole.
I asked the company to think of a freeplay of these three views as we went into physical training. What were some of your experiences of allowing these views to enter into the training?

1 comment:

Taylor V said...

After a month of training since Ragnar led us through that exercise, I would personally say that I don't consciously break the self into three during training, nor do I think that is what Ragnar was urging us to do, necessarily. But I think they are always there, right? If I understand correctly, and in light of what George is saying, what I find notable is that those 3 selves are always there co-existing within the actor, while we may not be acknowledging it. And as Michael Chekhov is so wonderful about reminding us, once we apply our concentration, or acknowledge something, we can easily access it. What I think can become an issue is when that 3rd self - the Assessor becomes dominant, becomes the Critic, or as MC would put it, when the Little Intellect takes over.

I do think it is important to be able to assess the ideas within the moment. But how can we stay true and assess the idea or the moment without letting it turn to judgment? And conversely, we can't stay in the Doing Self all the time either, right? Because then we have no awareness of how our actions are affecting the space and/or the people around us.

A couple weeks ago, in a Spy Back of the training, one of our actors noted how she wasn't meeting the expectation she set for a specific exercise. Or rather that she wasn't meeting the rhythmic requirement of the movement. I think this was an opportunity to overcome that obstacle using the 3 selves. Her Idea self set a goal, the Doer wasn't meeting it, and in that moment the responsibility then falls on the Assessor to acknowledge that fact, NOT JUDGE it, and allow her to change her expectations, or completely shift and change her focus and/or intention. Does that make sense? So then she isn't discouraged about not meeting the expectation, aware of it yes, but not discouraged. By shifting her intention, she can focus on accomplishing her new task, and then later can spy back and take notes on what happened during the training. I think that is a great example of the Three Views idea.

And maybe, just maybe it's okay for The Assessor to allow us to continue on. "Oh this idea is not working, but maybe I need to fail in order to learn something about this moment." Hard to do that without judgment, but possible I think...