Monday, May 23, 2011

Ciao for now...

Amazingly first year Helikos... International School of Theatre Creation.... came spiraling to an end with an action packed few weeks... or maybe months... of some of the most exciting theatrical tricks and techniques in what turned out to be stellar end to an amazing year in Firenze. So to recap on the steady slide to the finish line...

Characters! After months and months of running around our studio being blue, boiling water, baboons and blustering wind... we moved onto human beings... ooh... and the dynamics that us commoners call 'Human Nature.' This period started with the wonderful teacher Amy Russell from LISPA London... where we were introduced to the wonderful CLAP! technique... Moments in play where the actor interrupts their performance - with a literal external or a figurative internal clap - to consciously up their performance by doing something! In our workshop improvisations with Amy she would clap her hands and call out a characters name... that character had to say out loud what they were thinking and in turn what they thought they could do next. And the results were fabulous. It was such fun to discover that broad hidden world of potential action... That made the 'sense of play' sky rocket... the stakes raise... the tension build... the humor emerges... What can you do? Not what can you say! Thus keeping with the highest level of engagement. It was quite wonderful. Truly. On stage one can do what one only dares to think in life. And once you have done this for long enough, like 6 claps later, the counter character is revealed... or true character is amplified... So, if by nature you are chaotic - then somewhere hidden you are also ordered... If you are are against - then somewhere you are also for. Fascinating stuff. So our improvisations went to such beautifully bizarre places...

Like, for example, a quiet restrained woman climbing into the coffin when she can no longer bare the situation any more... a straight-forward boss bursts into song at the horror of having to retrench half her staff... and a woman trying not to let her true feeling show eventually starts throwing frustrated air punches at her provoker.

As part of this cycle in the programme we had to develop two opposite characters - Doppio Personagge - if you don't want to Be Italian about it... Such a blast. Arriving for class as a whole other person... Someone who really is, and really isn't you.

This is Rosemary - aristocratic, entitled, British, passive, above... and reluctantly kind. Enormously fun to play. According to Vika in a pair of ancle revealing black tailored pants and this oh-so fetching jacket I would be a hit... This is Denmark.

This is Maria - chaotic, loud, brash, common, against... and 'with' at the same time. Also loads of fun, but totally exhausting - continuously looking for the next distraction.

With our 'doppio personagges' we created scenes using paraventi or black flats creating a multitude of entrances and exits - we told the story of a dodgy health spa that unexpectedly comes under investigation for health and safety compliance... 4 actors... 8 characters... and one major crisis. Rock on.

During this time we went on weekend Spring day outing to the beach at Viareggio... if you ignored the rubbish strewn on the sand... it was quite pretty, with snow capped mountains rising up behind the buildings on the shore line. But mostly it was nice to be out... and not hiding indoors from the Winter rain. We spent most of the day wondering around the little town and eating ice-cream, but for the time we were on the beach we practiced the Le Coq 20 movements... mostly handstands... for our individual presentations... but more on that later.

For now, I'm back in South Africa and loving being home. Straight back into work - and straight back to the hairdresser! A luxury one cannot afford whist a student in Europe... and perhaps not here anymore either... I wanted to ask the hairdresser if she highlighted my hair with gold dust. But no. What is quite strange is how quickly one fits back in to the every day - almost like it never happened - like I haven't been away doing this amazing thing for 6 months. But I have. Everything changes and everything stays the same.

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