Monday, January 09, 2006

S&C: Day 11

Well. Last week, Kevin Colman--one of the faculty who lead my "Basics" group last week--had said to me, "David. It will be harder than you think." Fuck all. He was right. As physical exhaustion has begun truly to loosen me from my defenses--or, if not loosen them, make me too tired to attend them properly, so my flanks are open to incursion--I'm chafing, emotionally. Too tired to keep up my accustomed internal dialogue--in which I berate myself for being a mediocrity and middle-aged putz--and put at sea because I don't have that internal dialogue to anchor me, I'm flailing away at myself with pure emotion. It's a grunting, wordless battle between the humid, rank forces of physicalized self-hate and clear-eyed, clean-skinned, winsome man of some experience, charisma and dedication (despite myself) in me who refuses to lie down and die.

In voice class yesterday I couldn't wish away the teariness with which I'd awaken earlier. My frustration showed. During a tongue exercise I just couldn't do, Margaret, the faculty member, told me just to do what I could, that was all right, I'd do it the next day, and I wouldn't be shamed for it. Another brick in the wall crumbled. Just before movement class, the teariness turned into a moment's rage and immediate crying--a mercurial, voice-from-the-whirlwind moment--and during it I succumbed to shame and embarrassment at my clumsiness. Kristin, the faculty member, wouldn't let me off the hook, though, and kept me moving, making me demonstrate with her the dance moves she was teaching the class.

In the afternoon, we had a three-hour session called, "Sound and Movement," which I hated for the first two hours, as we went through visualizations of light in the hollow spaces of our body, "moved like seaweed on the ocean floor" to puffs of breath from our scene partners, and made sounds that we found would be made by the 'mouths' we imagined various body parts to have. Argh (well, I hated it, but I also kind of liked the seaweed thing, too.) But in the last hour, everyone in the class formed a circle, and the faculty members--Margaret and Keely--demonstrated the next thing. One actor would follow his or her impulse to go into the middle of the circle, calling out to the group using the open sounds and movements he or she had found emitted by three body parts. Another actor would respond to the call and move into the circle with the first actor. Then, both would respond to one another physically and through sound--no words--trying to effect the other, change the other, go with impulse, LISTEN to the other with body and ears but NOT brain.... I didn't even Wait for Keely to finish her instructions before bounding, with full vocal and physical force, into the middle. Another large man responded. For ten minutes, we called out to one another--as Margaret and Keely prodded us with side coaching--moving around the space on the impulse of making sound. I bounded. I prowled. My usually erectly stiff, or shamefully collapsed posture, un-loosened itself. I hunted. The other actor didn't stand a chance. I could sense his fear. I stalked, goaded, plead, made amends, shared, and competed mercilessly. I knew I was scaring some of the participants who were standing around me. Tough shit. I could sense my acting partner's desire to bring it all down a notch. Tough shit. It turns out that I'm a very physical actor. Tough shit. You're go'n to have to live with it.

When my partner and I were brought to stillness and returned to the circle so another two actors could go, I felt an almost audible hum of electricity going through the bodies of every actor in the room. Something had moved. And moved mountains. After class, I felt more energy than I had in days.

But the day was not over, since this only got us up to dinner time.

After dinner to rehearse our scenes with side coaching from faculty. This was tough. Rob and I have not memorized our lines yet (time? time? Where's been the time?) and I flailed away, initially. I rushed my lines and either moved without reason or stood like a damned lamp post as Romeo knelt before me. But, Julian and Steve (that's Steve Boss, from Portland)--the faculty members--brought us back to the first moment. I slowed down. I finally SAW Rob. I spoke simply. Aha. Connection. Top of scene, done. Moving on.

Day still not done.

We went to our session on sonnets. Claire continued to do basics on a white board for about a half hour, then we all got on our feet to deliver our sonnets (mine is 110.) I delivered mine with emotional clarity, physical poise, connection to the language, and desire to reach my audience. Good. Claire noted that while I recited, she saw in me "a tall and forceful man whom I've not seen before." Right. Sigh. Good. I'm tired and go to bed by 11:00 p.m.

Here's the thing. Listening and acting on impulse is a simple task, but I'm having to pass through wastelands of regret and hurt to reach the fertile lands of my imagination and desire to do so. This is difficult. One of the most difficult things I've ever done.

Kevin was right. Good. Good.


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