Two parts to this week’s assignment!
1. Complete your blog by Tuesday, and respond to at least two of your groupmate’s blogs by Thursday. Each of the four writers you will read for next week have a different perspective about what needs to be considered in entering the theatrical process. Respond to EACH of the following with your initial impressions about the play your group is producing:
o After Clurman, what is the theme or spine of the play from your perspective?
o After Schechner, how might the environment or space of your production impact the transaction between performers and audience?
o After Bogart, how do you want to ‘enter’ into your production?
o After Jones, how might the energy or aura of your play extend into the physical realm? How might the physical elements evoke this energy?
Note: I am aware how early this is in your process and thoroughly expect your ideas to get more specific, to change, and to be informed by the activities we do in class. Consider this an exercise in Clurman’s suggestion: “I am not sure I know what I really think until I am able to articulate my intuitions and reflections in this way (p. 26).”
2. Bring in an object or image to class that makes physical or tangible your initial ideas and point of view about the play your group is producing. This is a less immediately intellectual exercise, and can provoke different ways of thinking. I encourage you to get creative with this! You might happen upon an object in your home or you may find initial library research in the quarto volumes to be helpful.
Thanks for a fun and playful class this week. We didn't speak about the readings directly, though I'd like to point out how many of the key ideas we dealt with--the time-wasting factor of game-playing, the imitative quality, the importance of rules and a leader, the way game-playing is separate from everyday life as well as regulated by society to be external to life. Also very important, we dealt with the way games and playing are related to theatre, and can provide a way of opening up possibilities and relationships and ways of thinking that we may not be able to access in our everyday lives. Perhaps this is why play gets regulated by the status quo.
Did any of you find these readings challenging? It wouldn't surprise me. I had to read them slowly myself to 'get' it. I'd like to encourage you to see these as a good indication of how to read STRATEGICALLY. One of the most important elements of effective college reading (and smart reading in general) is to read carefully and take what is most important. Think about hard readings as training--training you to know how to identify key ideas and to know how to deal with the 'bulk'. Read for strategic understanding, not to 'conquer' the reading with your immense brainpower. The more you read the better you'll get at it.
Thanks, everyone. Have a great week and enjoy reading about acting and picking a play for the final project.
You’ve got three articles to read for next week. In your blog posting I’d like you to reflect on your own experience—whether that be acting yourself, watching a performance, participating in a class acting exercise, or even being a person in everyday life (we’ve all done that!)—and identify in each of the three articles whether the main concerns of the writer align with your experience or not. If you identify with the description of the actor’s craft and the actor’s project, what is a specific moment you can point to which illustrates this approach? If a particular perspective seems foreign to your experience, why is this? What do each of these articles contribute to your process of thinking through your own experiences, both in the theatre and in everyday life?
Things to think about while reading:
-in each of the three articles, keep in mind that these ideas are by and large being articulated for the first time by these authors. Each author is suggesting that theatre and performance can and should be thought about DIFFERENTLY than what came before.
-the excerpts from An Actor Prepares by Stanislavski are his way of making a point through a fictionalized account. The story is told from the point of view of a student, but the voice of Stanislavski probably comes through the strongest in that of the Director, Tortsov. How does Stanislavski negotiate the paradox mentioned in the previous article, and suggest that his ‘students’ do in response to the paradox?
-Jerzy Grotowski is probably the foremost figure in Polish theatre and his ‘poor theatre’ has served as a model for theatres worldwide, including, to a certain extent, the work of the X. He is concerned with the actor not as a tool of the theatre but as a person who hones his craft through a process of what he calls ‘distillation’. How he defines the ‘craft’ of the actor is quite distinct from the way Stanislavski defines it—pay attention especially to the opposition in their approaches to the way the space of the theatre looks as a metaphor for their acting priorities.
...you might also like to hear about PacManhattan!
It's vintage, it's high-tech, it's mimetic representation on the streets of NYC.
Do just a little reading while you’re at it…
Excerpts from Man, Play, and Games will be found in your reader.
Browse the website on The Big Urban Game.
To find the article “Preliminary Problems in Constructing a Situation” online…
o Go to www.nothingness.org
o Click on “Situationist International”
o Click on “Text Library”
o Type the title of the article, “Preliminary Problems in Constructing a Situation,” into the search box.
o The first title that pops up in the search should be the correct one.
Thanks for an enlightening discussion today! I don't want to lose the threads we began spinning, so I'll put a few things down here...
-the issue of what it means to 'become the character' is an important one. Most Western theatre holds that it is of utmost importance that the performer create a sense of emotional specificity, that they use their own experiences of strong emotion and conflict to generate recognizable emotionally thick characters that the audience can relate to, and release emotions (experience catharsis) as a result. Brecht is responding to that because he see catharsis as coercive, as making people not really address the issues of social significance. I believe that Jaell said "It's not the actor becoming the character but the character becoming the actor" and I think this is a helpful way of thinking about Brecht's conception of the actor. Remember also that the paradox of the actor, the relationship between thinking and feeling in the work of the actor, is a long-standing issue which has never (and probably never will be!) fully answered.
-it's impossible to think really clearly about Brecht without thinking about the problematic political and social structures he wanted to see changed. Consider the social relationship set up in Andrew and Cindy's performance of the 'heroic' runner and the lackey who had to keep pace--if we were to take this into performance with Brecht's ideals in mind we would continue to talk through and consider deeply, perhaps, a celebrity culture that erases from view all those that help people get to the top and be successful.
Social problem leads to performance priorities.
-weeping when they laugh, laughing when they weep--I worked on a production of Brecht's The Threepenny Opera several years ago, and there was a scene where a group of robbers are singing a drinking song and begin to mock-beat one of their group. The beating becomes more and more serious, and they continue to laugh and laugh. For the audience, the effect was laughing along and then suddenly, together, becoming kind of shocked that they were laughing at something terrible. It's not getting caught up in laughter that Brecht is after--it's the realization of what you're laughing at that he's after.
I look forward to seeing you next week, and to reading your papers this weekend!