I don't know if I will have learned anything at the end of this, but I'll have survived something. Another tough day, but one with information for me. We worked with Karen Beaumont again in a session that deepened our introduction to "body worlds" by asking us to get as specific as possible in our embodiment of the body worlds, e.g., it was no longer good enough to work with "liquid," we had to know what that liquid was; quick silver? water sluicing over rock? erupting lava? It didn't have to make sense, but it had to be SPECIFIC.
We worked sections of text by marrying specific images with embodying, abstract movement, resulting in wildly overdone grotesqueries, which we'd bring down--or in--to performance level as we felt like it. Because I found the original session on body worlds so helpful, and so easy, I was disappointed to find difficulty taking them further, into highly specific images. Working my text, my images felt arbitrary, and this discombobulated me and read unclearly to the other actors in my small group, with whom I was working. I spoke with Karen about it. She said that, yes, finding the RIGHT image was THE challenge; that in fact, finding the right image is THE job of the actor. Hmn. Over the past year, I'd loosened my hold on overly exact, objective driven, text analysis, in favor of working with personal imagery paired to scene objectives and beats. What Karen wanted was something more rigorous yet, images for each beat, at the very least, and for a phrase or word, most commonly.
I can most definitely see the power in this, but I find it daunting, and it unnerves me. I'm afraid I don't have the "imagination" required for this kind of work--okay, for acting, period--but I'm afraid of everything. So it goes.
In my text session--i.e., scene rehearsal--with Rob and Karen, a teacher trainee, our scene fell apart again. Disappointing. Last night, we'd finally seen glimmers of a PERFORMANCE in our work. Now, we were back to frustration, anger, and confusion. For one thing, these rehearsals are unlike any rehearsal process I'd go through for a production, or even for scene study. There's no way to get it "right," here. The movement from one rehearsal to the next is completely lateral. There's no sense--yet--of 'building' a scene up. Rather, we're continually revisiting earlier ideas, testing new ways of entry into the text, trying on new thoughts. That all sounds good, of course, but this process reveals any weakness in preparation or tension--which I might get away with hiding in a more linear build-up of a 'final product'--that I bring into the room. Terrifying.
Rehearsal as Zen koan.
Yesterday, Tina Packer, Keven Coleman, David Demke, and Michael Hammond spoke to us some on "Theater, Therapy, and Theology," in a rambling discussion that took in the utopian, highly experimental birth of Shakespeare & Company, the relationship of the company to individual actors interested in working for it, the similarities and differences--yes, differences--between therapy and theater, and so forth. It was a highly accessible conversation that... I'll recap in a later post, perhaps. For now, suffice to say that theater is the place where the gods are embodied in a communally therapeutic way through performance. That kind of thing, and a thing with which I'm on board, but I'm momentarily bored with 'thinking' too much about it, as I sit here typing.
Anyways. It's time to go up for breakfast.