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?