Saturday, June 27, 2015

Second to last... but not least

This week's training was our 2nd to last of the year so we had to make it count!

During the first part of our training, we focused very specifically on the area where our spine attaches to our neck. We worked from "monkey" and examined how that point is deeply connected with all of our movements. Much of the company noticed that the slightest turn of the head could be clocked by feeling that 'critical juncture' (get it?? haha), We then moved on to what I describe as "Crocodile Floorwork;" replicating the spineful creature's progression of movement-from small to large. As crocodiles, we went from resting face-down in the swamp, to roaming and searching our ecosystem.  For me, it was revealing to encounter the resulting mindfulness that exploring the crocodile motions elicited. We then moved on to a bit of text work, allowing the lines to come to us as we searched the room. 

The next portion of training consisted of two exercises that tested our ability to both inhibit and follow our impulses in achieving a goal. We played "Red Light, Green Light" and "Simon Says." Yes, these are historically "children's games." But we found that both of these games illuminated certain aspects of our process BECAUSE of the simplicity of each games' instructions. For instance, in Simon Says, we were forced to inhibit our impulses to follow a director's direction. It takes an "extra-daily" use of energy to monitor whether or not Simon has ordered us to do something. In Red Light, Green Light, we must utilize "extra-daily" use of energy to honor the obstacle (being caught) in our pursuit of the traffic person. 

We segued into clown work by first exploring an image exercise that was led by George. This exercise (which we did not know would lead to clown work), consisted of a fantastical morning routine and enabled us to enter our clown's world. It's amazing how these imagination exercises stick to our subconscious when we continue on into an improvisation. This improvisation consisted of us splitting into two groups of clowns. Our clowns interacted with "the voice" and with one another. This exercise was a potent reminder that a clowns experience, no matter how "externalized," must be as real for the clown, as Romeo's. Torvald's or Batman's journey is for them. 

We ended our training by working on a few prepositions. These prepositions continue to illuminate "Life is a Dream." Each moment that is explored beams a ray of light into a crevice of the play that is unearthed. The learning is palpable!

For me, working with Magis has encouraged and illuminated the mentality that 'the work' and the journey are a destination. That training is not just a "means to an end," but an end in itself. This mindset not only makes training more satisfying in the doing-it makes it more effective on the instrument. I love the notion that we are a "training company." It's old school and swagtastic in the best possible way. I'm looking forward to celebrating our year this Tuesday with all of you! There has certainly been a lot to celebrate this week!!!



Anonymous said...

Hi Dan! I read your blog!

In fact, I just went back through and re-read the entire 6 months of blog entries since we started with our newest members. It's so useful to remember where we came from, how far we've come in getting to know each other as artists and as people.

I liked what you had to say about "Red Light, Green Light" and "Simon Says," but I think it can also be simpler than that: these games help us experience joy. We laugh when we realize that we've made an error in Simon Says, we grunt in frustration as we are caught and sent back to the starting line in Red Light, Green Light, or maybe we even get a little mad. "You didn't see me move! It's not fair!" But even in our frustration there is joy. The stakes are suddenly so high, and yet we know that it is just a game.

This is a lot like the feelings we have as actors. When we are playing a tragic role, we may actually experience emotions of sadness or rage. But Philippe Gaulier's point of view is that there must be a kind of joy even in serving as a vessel for rage or pain. We experience the thrill of feeling the pain of King Lear or Medea. If it was truly painful, why would we choose to be on the stage?

I was lucky enough to take four workshops with Philippe and some classes with his student Gregor Paslawsky and they opened up a joy and pleasure in my work that had been missing. No matter what we are channeling on stage, we have to essentially be having a good time. If we're not having a good time, how can we expect our audiences to have a good time? It shocked me the first time I read it, but I eventually came to agree with Philippe's belief that in order to be an actor you must experience great joy on the stage. "If it's not immense," he says, "leave the stage. You will never be loved enough."


Dennis Vargas said...

Yes Dan I also read and agreed with your comments about the next to last class we had. I have to say that putting us in the realm of the kid names and our "inner child" was freeing, but also a bit frustrating for me at the same time. Like many kids I was the odd ball in my neighborhood in Bklyn. I was a chubby kid who wasn't any good at sports or running...yes the last one to be picked for a team of anything at school. Playing these games reminded me a bit of that awkwardness I had at school, Luckily in my neighborhood I had some friends on my block so I did get to play these street games on a joyful level. The clown work also put me in a place where I would usually find myself all the way through high school. I never liked to draw that much attention to myself at school which is odd for someone who ALWAYS wanted to be an actor. I held on to that feeling for the exercise which could be funny I guess. Now when George put on his "authority voice" that really sent me back. Being a Catholic school boy it just sent all sorts of feelings through me when he decided to talk to me. It was rather interesting.
I do agree that acting needs to be joyful even in anger. I can remember the first scene of a production that I did where it called for me to just full out lose my temper. Holy cow what a joyful release. I was shaking when I left the stage. My body's adrenaline was almost on overload. I felt fantastic. You really have to have a good time through all the anger, the fear, the sadness or whatever else your character has to go through. I do believe our inner child is better at doing that than our "inner adult".