Sunday, October 25, 2009

Shakuntala for today

The word theater comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place. It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation.

Stella Adler

When we start to come together with scenes, what will we hope to tell our audiences about life and our current social situation. What aspects of Shakuntala mirror or society today. I have found that classical plays last because they remain relevant to the human condition. Ibsen dealt with women's liberation in a male dominated society ( A Doll's House), witch is still very relevant today. Shakespearean themes of love, jealous, biggotry, abition, and the human natures propensity to violence.
Shakuntala surely deals with love and social standing. But what else? I am not making a statement merely asking a question. What aspects themes Shakuntala can relate to people today. What is the overall theme this production will be using or conveying.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Robert Taylor and Shakuntala Text

Last Sunday we started to work with the Shakuntala script in the Robert Taylor Text Circle. It was exciting to hear the characters speak out loud to each other. We heard from and saw a great mix of people: Shakuntala, Dushyanta, Priyamvada, Anusuya, the Charioteer, the Clown, Durvasas, Hermits, and Guatami to name a few. I was struck at how modern the dialogue sounds, and I felt inspired to dive further into the text and to explore the colorful array of characters.

I felt an impulse to use the Saju walk for a few exits in the text circle. I'd like to explore entering and exiting the text circle with the Saju walk, and maybe even some jumps. George suggested that we stay open to the impulse to use mudras while we are working on the text. I thought it would be cool to substitute mudras for the 6 different Robert Taylor gestures. For example, how about a "direct" using kangulasca or bhramarascaiva, "sympathy" using alapadmakaha, or using pataka for "retreating," "antipathy," and "feeling forward", or whatever mudra presents itself in the moment.

We might also want to begin to learn some text using mudras, or learning text from different energy centers depending on the character we are studying.



So yeah. Connectivity. Everything is connected to everything else, right? Somehow...

Watching George at training on Sunday, and then hearing Walker compare him to a cop straight out of a Chaplin film, it just furthered my sense that, first, what we do as a group is amazing, and second, that I need to scratch this itch that's been nagging at me...

We are in the process of learning and cultivating a style of Indian dance that's new to us but that's been around for ages and ages and ages. And throughout this past month and a half, I have heard several comments (and made them myself) how this style/approach "reminds me of" Grotowski, Suzuki, etc. And George's proposition was proof in the pudding (you like those p's, don't you?) that Commedia Dell'Arte (also around for ages and ages!) is immediately applicable and transferable as well...

I suppose my point is this: (I can only speak for myself, but I imagine there's similar sentiment amidst the ensemble.) I must embrace the fear of the unknown. Yes, Bharata Natyam is a beast of a style, but I must trust that both my physical body, my life-body, and the collective body of the ensemble will know what to do. Because I/we do know or have dabbled in these other styles and techniques that give me the power and knowledge to meet this production and style full on, from the inside out.

The dots are beginning to connect even more for me. I can use what I know to create a template from which to launch/pull/work/push/play/reach/create/throw/dance in order to discover that which I do not know.

Embrace the fear and trust the connectivity to pursue the continuity...

See you Sunday

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.