Friday, January 13, 2006

S&C: Day 15

We spent four hours on our feet in the morning going through an overview of the work on resonators we are to do in Voice during the third week. Soft and hard palate, skull, nasal cavities, chest, torso. How to access them all by manipulating the shape of 'the channel,' and by strengthening diaphram muscles and responsiveness, without involving the jaw. Lunch. In the afternoon, dance class. We worked with our scene partners for the scenes we are to present at the end of the workshop. We--with the aid of another team of actors working on their own scene--played with a visual, movement version of the story we're telling in our scenes. We danced them for the entire class to music, which pieces that Susan Dibble had painstakingly found for each scene (ours included the sound of church bells.) A lovely experience. Moving. And, I found some of the physical impulse that I hadn't been getting in my scene rehearsals with Rob, so far.

Later, fight class. We strangled one another to death. Harrowing. For me, not as intense as slapping each other, though. Hmn.

In the evening, we rehearsed with scene partners, under the coaching of faculty. The rehearsal was about digging into the text, getting it to breathe, rather than flatten out. We put the scene on it's feet once, then the teacher--Michael Hammond--sent us to work on our own for half an hour to read the text to one another for clarity, asking ourselves:

• What lines do I not understand either myself or partner saying?
• Find at least six moments in which the text shifts, somehow, from one intention, or tactic, or imagery to another.
• Find at least six moment in which we'd come to a new understanding in this current rehearsal, or six moments which we may have understood, but needed more commitment.

This was enormously valuable. I was humbled to discover that I didn't understand half of what Rob and I were saying to one another. I thought I had. You know, like using a word in conversation, only to find that you can't define it, or even to find that it's wrong. When I work on classical text in the future I am definitely going to work this way. A lot of the Shakespeare I've seen or been in would have come more to life if the actors had submitted themselves to what is, really, a painstaking process.

After rehearsal, the entire company--workshop participants and faculty--gathered in a "rhythm circle." The group held a complicated beat as actors, one by one or in two and threes, went into the middle of the circle to shake, dance, sing, and howl out the feelings about violence, which our work earlier in the day--and during the past two weeks--have stirred up. Hippy dippy, yes, but effective. And the bar opened afterward.

A good day.


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