November 25, 2004

The First Rehearsal

How can I help out with a show like this, when I don't understand the reason behind why we're doing it? I have to get over my own problems first... I'm still bummed because we're not doing Our Country's Good. I fell in love with the thought of doing that play, doing something with meaning. That's what I'm worried about most, I guess, that it won't mean anything. I was so excited to be in this class, where everyone is so perceptive that we actually could have underlying themes that would be picked up on. But I feel like we're doing nothing like that. People go to the theatre to look for something they don't see every day. But we're not exactly giving it to them, are we? Not going to be able to show the full extent of what we could. I don't think we're pushing the limits here, I think we're just playing around so we don't have to push the limits in an important and meaningful way. What we're doing is just playing, but to me it seems like we're doing the kind of theatre I've alwats done. And in this class, we've leaerned everything to contradict just 'putting on theatre' and now I know that theatre should have meaning. That's the point of theatre. Everything you do in theatre, you should have an underlying meaning for it, you have to have a reason for doing it. You can't just do stuff because it's funny or because it looks cool. You just can't.

Anyway, about our group: I'm a bit worried about Ben, because he really hasn't been around much. Another problem with doing theatre in a class group rather than a troupe - you can't guarantee so much that people are going to be able to get together. It seems to me like Natalie has taken on some of the organization of the show - she's thinking about how it's going to fit together, how we're going to get it done. I didn't even know Marla's the stage manager until Monday, yeah, I'm concerned about our lack of cohesiveness, beacuse no one knows exactly what we're doing.

And I think it must be getting towards the end of the semester, because tempers are getting high and relationships are strained. For the first time ever, TK is getting on my nerves. I just don't think that as a group, we have that cohesive bond and shared vision that we should if we're going to be doing such a collaborative project. But, again, I need to get over my own issues, because if I were the director, I know I'd be dictating towards my own vision, which is so clear to me. And since that's not gonna happen, I need to give up on my ideas, and then I need to open myself up to other ideas. Right now, I kinda hate our project. That's what's holding me back. My resentment over what we're doing. How do I get myself over that? Old love dies hard, I guess.

Posted by holm0567 at 10:23 AM

November 17, 2004

The Question of Directing

OK, so I read the articles on Directing. And I guess I understand it all, in theory. But theory isn't much good in the real world. As far as application goes, I've never had the chance to really try to be a director and take on many of the roles a director does, and I think that that might allow me to understand these artices more. Like acting, I believe directing is a fluid concept that cannot be learned just by reading. But from my own experiences, I believe that the most challenging part of being a director (in the case of me anyway) would be to deal with the nonconformity of a production to your own personal vision. Granted, if you're good at what you're doing, and if you don't dream *too* big, then the disparity between the show in your head and the show on the stage could be effectively minimized, but it's still a concern in my view.

I'm wondering if a collaborative effort might serve to reduce even further this problem of the play not turning out according to one's vision, because with so many people directly involved in the creation process, the performance cannot be shaped towards a single end - it must be fluid and adaptable. In a way, the collaborative process is like taking the Play-Doh of the theatre and molding it to suit everyone's purposes, instead of making something conform to a predetermined vision, and judiciously hacking off any bits that do not fit the vision. But I'm still hung up on how one gets to make sure that it is a collaborative process - I guess I was drawn to the second article, "The Shifting Point," which dismisses the method of directors being dictators as "a sad and clumsy use of directing" but doesn't really mention how one is to go about balancing the "taking charge" and "maintaining in the right direction" with ceding control to the actors and the show to do as they will. The third article discusses this as well, but the focus seems to shift soon to the actor that the conditions necessary for their craft. And I'm left wondering how the director is supposed to do all this stuff. A guess I have is that the director is supposed to 'destroy' the work that they've created (or something like that...) and create it again; I guess I might be able to see how that would work, but I'm still thinking that it would be extremely difficult. Sadly enough, but not unexpectedly, the articles don't seem to have a solution for my problem: what do you do with an idea you're so incredibly attached to you're afraid to let it go?

Posted by holm0567 at 11:22 PM

November 3, 2004

A Discussion of Acting, or Why isn't everyone taking TH1321???

Well, I'd say that my most prominent experience in acting is from taking Fundamentals of Performance this fall; in reading the first article, the discussion of the internal or 'representational' method of acting (Method Acting, imagine that) really reminded me of the things we learn in that class - "it asks the actor to represent all aspects - emotional as well as physical and intellectual - of the character portrayed." This is exactly what Kym is teaching in the Margolis Method. However, a section of Jerzy Grotowski's essay also struck me, when he said that, "The forms of common 'natural' behaviour obscure the truth; we compose a role as a system of signs which demonstrate what is behind the mask of common vision: the dialectics of human behavior... [by] eliminating those elements of 'natural' behavior which obscure pure impulse." One of he objectives of the class, so Kym tells us, is to show how society infuses us with a sort of habitus - to move a certain way, act a certain way. However, actors must strive to find 'neutral,' the innate, child-like way of moving, because, in a world of social conventions, "What is normal is not natural." Actors have to let go of those physicality traits defined by society and move in a way that is natural and efficient, to best express the emotional and intellectual intent behind a character's action.

However, I realize that Fundamentals of Performance isn't the only time I've ever been taught to act, per se. All of the acting I did in high school, for speech in particular, was taught to me using mostly the 'presentational' method. The idea then was, it doesn't really matter what you, as the actor, feel, so long as you can make the audience (in this case, the judge) believe that you are experiencing some emotions. But this wasn't really the best way of looking at acting - and my acting endeavors in high school weren't all that successful, anyway.

Much of the material in these three articles was covered very well by Luverne Siefert and Professor K in lecture. One thing that I found particularly interesting, though, was the second piece (the Stanislevsky?) when it said "Our subconscious is inaccessible to our consciousness. We cannot enter into that realm. If for any reason we do not penetrate into it, then the subconscious becomes conscious and dies." This, in conjunction with the idea of not using a mirror to watch your acting, really seemed to make sense to me. I realize now that I've always hated having to look at myself on film or whatever, I prefer just to have it be a mystery how I appear to my own eyes, and just trust that what I'm doing is good. I guess this is why I'm in theater and not cinema!

One concept I would still like clarified is Grotowski's idea of 'via negativa'. I looked up the meaning of those words, and apparently it's some sort of theory regarding the existance and attributions of God - you can't define it by what he is, but instead by what he isn't. I can sort of see how that might connect to Grotowski's idea of not giving the actor a 'bag of tricks,' so to speak, to perform with, but I still think that there's more in that than I'm getting right now. Grotowski's entire way of looking at acting is very different from what I've seen or heard about before. Of course, the tragedy of acting from textbooks is that you just can't do it. Theatre is not found in books, it's found on the stage, and I think that practical application, or at the very least, demonstation, is called for in learning about these different techniques.

Posted by holm0567 at 7:38 PM