Monthly Archives: August 2012

Soaking it up

The other day in Improv class we worked on “WHERE” driven scenes.  We’ve been looking at improv from different angles, basing a scene on WHO you are, WHAT you’re doing and then WHERE you are.  The idea with the where approach is to play out a scene in a specific space while doing anything but what the space was actually intended for – I ended up ‘making sushi in a morgue’ – who knew.  It’s a challenging exercise that requires us to be very specific about our movement and yet flexible enough to flow with our scene partner if it becomes apparent they are not seeing quite the same thing we are.

 Being brand new to the world of acting – I have been soaking it all up – it’s been awesome, and I mean that in every sense of the word.

To arrive where we started…

Sometimes, when we’re away on trips like this, I start to panic. We’re past halfway now. Am I learning enough? Will I produce enough to justify the expense, the time away from family and work? Am I doing justice to this craft and this vocation that I love?
Funny, but for me this obsession with “doing” seems to be the very thing that gets in my way – here (in Feldenkrais, in scene work, in voice work, in improv), but at home too.
I want a dramatic result. I want big, extreme swings to prove to myself and everyone else that something is happening inside this person here, who sometimes feels like she’s just banging her head against a wall. I want to make something that I can stand back and see and say, “There – now that is progress.”
But this morning, I remembered good old Mr. T.S. Eliot. I remembered these words that reduce me to a puddle every time I read them. I have this final part from the Four Quartets tacked up on a bulletin board by my desk at work. I haven’t read it since the end of July. But I think I’m going to put it up here in Chicago, so I don’t forget it for the rest of this trip. And I’m going to just keep exploring.
With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

T.S.Eliot
From Little Gidding V

Where are you

The other day in Improv class we worked on “WHERE” driven scenes.  We’ve been looking at improv from different angles, basing a scene on WHO you are, WHAT you’re doing and then WHERE you are.  The idea with the where approach is to play out a scene in a specific space while doing anything but what the space was actually intended for – I ended up ‘making sushi in a morgue’ – who knew.  It’s a challenging exercise that requires us to be very specific about our movement and yet flexible enough to flow with our scene partner if it becomes apparent they are not seeing quite the same thing we are.

 Being brand new to the world of acting – I have been soaking it all up – it’s been awesome, and I mean that in every sense of the word.

Life Exercises

Another incredible day!  In Feldenkrais what started as a simple stretch ended with us literally rolling around the floor in circles (or at least some of the  younger ones of us!) Amazing to learn more about what parts of our skeleton are connected and how small adjustments can change how we move.  In Improv class, split up into pairs, we wordlessly enacted everyday scenes that showed “where” we were by what we were doing. 
The challenge seems to be to make our actions specific and deliberate enough for the viewer to understand exactly what our activity is.  Which means WE have to really believe what we’re doing.  For our Ibsen scene class we played some wild games including “verbal mirror”.   This was new to us – in this exercise you face your partner and one starts making up a story while the other tries to speak what the story-teller is saying simultaneously.  After a few seconds, the the call would come to “switch” and the person copying becomes the story-teller.  The stories took fantastical and funny turns. Interesting, a lot of the work is about listening – not jumping ahead or lagging behind with your scene partner.  Hopefully something that will benefit our work and our lives.
 

An interesting thing happens when a group like Elements travels to a new location (London, NYC, Chicago) to study together for a month.  The first morning we all pretty much stuck to the map, walking to Ruth Page Center for the Arts and climbing the 4 long flights to Studio IV in a building from 1927.  As days flow into weeks, our circle of experience widens.  We notice for instance, that if you look out the window of one apartment and down the street, you can glimpse the horizon past Lake Michigan – and looking the other way, you can see Trump Tower, built on a bend in the Chicago River.  Gradually we venture into new neighborhoods to shop, see plays and sight-see.  We make friends with people we meet at the corner restaurant and greet them like old friends when we pass by later.  As the interior core, the familiar, the trusted, becomes more secure we adventure, get lost and find out way, and expand our experience.  And, everyone has now found a new way to get to the Studio in the morning without a map!