Saturday, December 3, 2011

Spy Back

Chekhov emphasizes that as actors in rehearsal and performance, when we are properly concentrated we are one with our images and intentions. We are accessing full creativity. We are present enough to allow this flow of creativity to be realized and to get out of our own way.

We want to be led by our imagination not by our intellect. This is not necessarily easy since our intellect is used to being in control, in charge of our lives. But Chekhov said the intellect is an enemy to the artist - he called it the "little intellect." This is the critic, the judge, the divisive one that lives in us. While it can be useful in many areas of our life, it works against us when we are working in the creative state.

So, we can analyze it later. When we have finished a particular rehearsal or exercise, then we can take the time to evaluate what was working and how it was working in us. This is the time to put the little intellect to work, and then it is contributing to the creative process in its proper way. Chekhov called this spying back.

I have mentioned this term in the couple lessons I have led, but here I would like to post the questions he recommends you ask yourself after every exercise or rehearsal. The answers are meant to be shared with one another as we all grow and learn together in the technique. Here they are:

~ What was I concentrated on?
~ What does this movement mean to me?
~ What was my experience of this?
~ Where do I feel/experience a connection to this?
~ Is this something I recognize or know?
~ Can I do it again?
~ Where/How can I use it?

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Four Brothers

Hello all,

I would like to introduce to you the Four Brothers. The brothers are actually feelings and they are always present(or should be) in our work. They are:

Feeling of Ease
The actor finds this ease as an inner thing much like a feeling. It begins from a desire to have it and it comes because we will it to be there. Once we will it and find it - once we accomplish the task or perform the action with ease - we know it. It is there, and it will be there once you allow it to be there. No matter how difficult the task or movement or exercise, if the feeling of ease is present, we discover just how much energy it takes to accomplish the task...

Feeling of Form

Everything that needs understanding needs form. We work with form in our training all the time, and oftentimes when we are looking for something to work on, we fall back on form. We can always work on form. But as you do, I urge you to experience form as a feeling. After all you are human, and your human body is a form. What does it to feel like to be in your body? Know the particulars, discover the unity, feel the form...

Feeling of Beauty

It's nice to feel beautiful, isn't it. But it's not necessarily easy to feel, it can be elusive since "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and there are many values attached to the feeling of beauty. My teacher Lenard Petit likes to substitute the word authentic for beautiful. Great substitution. Because this brings us to the purity of things, doesn't it? And purity is beautiful, almost unarguably. Chekhov notes that animals in nature are beautiful because they are true to themselves. So in your work, I urge you to play with this feeling of beauty. Remember, it's a pathway to authenticity - there is no need to try to be beautiful or to show us your beauty, just be beautiful...

Feeling of The Whole
This is perhaps even more elusive than beauty, as it can easily become a concept versus an experience. Chekhov was very interested in the Whole of the actor's experience and subsequently the technique was conceived out of the idea that the emotional and psychological can be discovered and explored through the physical. The inner can be found through the outer. As you work, remember that you are a whole actor. And that as a whole actor, you make whole movements and whole sounds, or at least have the possibility to do so. I urge you to put your attention on the whole. What does that feel like...?

If you think about it, every great work of art possesses these four qualities, leading us to a satisfying experience of some sort. Each of the brothers complements and informs the other and are tangible feelings that we can apply to the work. Remember, these are not hard and fast rules; they are simply guideposts to which we can come back, to help us along the way...

See you in training...
Taylor V