Saturday, January 21, 2006

S&C: Day 23

Tough Day. In the morning, sessions in Body Awareness, Voice, and Movement all paid attention to the upper resonators, loosening up the sinuses, relaxing face muscles, getting individual muscles to function without bring other muscles with them, e.g., by lifting one eye brow instead of both together, or sneering with one side of the lip and not the other. Eliza had us moving from prone positions on the floor, sweeping our legs and arms in patterns from one side to the other, in general, connecting up the 'flow of energy' through limbs and torso. When we stood up--after an hour of this--our faces were all half-melted off, all those resonators loosened. A distinct rumble moved up from my chest to my skull and face, upon standing.

In the afternoon, Keely put us through a crash course in articulators, which, of course, amounted to a hardly sufficient introduction; of course, that's true of all the voice work. The Linklater progression we've done is usually done over the course of a year, or two, rather than four weeks. When I return to Portland, four tasks I have are to find a daily yoga class (it's made a big difference during my time here), a good movement/dance class for actors (I've been putting it off, but I don't want to let the work I've just done go to waste,) find an Alexander coach, and ramp up the voice coaching I've been getting from Theresa Koon from one day a week to three. Even if I never get another stage or film job again, all this work, which I've begun here at Shakespeare & Company, will help me be more me.

In the evening, we had a two hour session with Toddy, working with "energetics," pure hippy-dippy, aura-hugging, New Age kaka, though presented within the framework of acting on stage. We did a lot of moving around to expand our awareness outward to include ourselves, the immediate space around us, the actors around us, the theater walls, the ground beneath, sky above, and areas oft-ignored, to our sides. Typical space awareness work, really, but with a decidedly New Age tone. Man, I want to dismiss this stuff. And, oh man, I can't. This stuff is great. When my acting partner did a few lines from our text, facing each other from six or seven feet away, Toddy coached us to strengthen our connection with whatever area of attention to spacial relationship that we seemed to be weak in. For Rob, it was up and forward. For me, it was down and back, thinking myself as rooted in the earth and supported from behind; rooting myself and pulling back shot a bolt of energy through me that came flying out through the text. It was powerful. My usual, insistent habit of leaning bodily forward and letting my head get out in front of my body, vanished for the moment.

Energetics. Expanding awareness outward while in a 'performance state.' Pulling it back in after performance, lest one stays in a state most conducive to drinking, smoking, having impromptu sex, partying, and getting into a lot of trouble, over time. Bah, humbug. All nonsense when put into conversation. All startlingly real when put into practice.

The toughest part of the day was my Text session with Rob and Michael Hammond, a long-time teacher and actor for Shakespeare & Company. It went miserably at first. The first run-through infuriated me. I couldn't connect--which was my bad--but Rob's gigantic hamming and lack of connection made me chock. I was fascinated by how god-awful he was. Fascinated and repulsed. I didn't know what the hell to do with all that muck coming at me. After the first run, I had a mini tantrum, saying to Michael that I was frustrated that Rob and I seemed not to connect at all, that the given circumstances had been lost, that we were each in our own acting space rather than in the same one. Grrrrrr. Michael then chided me for "untoward behavior for an actor," while also supporting me by affirming my right to be disappointed in my own work, when merited. I apologized, meaning it. Really meaning it, especially after realizing that I'd been bullying both Rob and the teachers working with us like this, in past rehearsals, too. Why? Not wanting to be the only bad actor in the room. Blaming my scene partner for my own deficiencies. A little bit of avoiding the work. All bad. I hope to use this experience to better ground me in future rehearsal room work, both here and back out in the real world.

At least we had a productive rehearsal, in the end. Again, we worked on my first moment. I have a bugger of a time charging into the scene with enough focused energy shaped more by the given circumstances than by my own fears about myself as an actor. I seemed to make progress. We also blocked out the bit with the knife where Romeo 'offers' to kill himself, and choreographed more tightly some of the huge beat shifts I have, in my monologue. After an hour and a half, pure exhaustion.

All this rehearsal work with differing staff members is what some of call "death by a thousand directors."

Today and tomorrow will consist of voice and movement work focused on upper resonators and articulation. The Text sessions will intensify further, as we are presenting our scenes on Monday, the final day of the workshop. This is that bit where I often don't think I'm going to make it. The last hundred yards of a steep mountain hike, the camp site and rest just ahead, my legs jellified, not believing in the rest of the journey. And, my mind shifts more and more to next week, when it's all over.

One more thing: five weeks ago I lowered my dosage of Lamictal from 200 mg to 100 mg, after consulting with my doctor. The lamictal is great for my Bipolar Disorder, but if there is any side effect at all, it's a slight ADD-like quality I get. Focusing gets more difficult for me. Since I've been doing well, this seemed like a good time to try lowering it, especially since I wanted to be in a 'reactive' state for my work at S&C (I had an idea of the emotional demands to come.) But, yesterday I raised the dosage a bit, to 150 mg. At first, I thought my irritability while here could be attributed solely to my physical exhaustion and the emotional duress inherent in working so hard--taking so much information--in such a short time--which is all true. But, after my Text session yesterday, I gave in to my instinct that my irritability has not been fully justified by these given circumstances.

And so onward.

5

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