Friday, May 11, 2012

A lone clown on a bare stage

We often speak about this idea of 'the mask' of the play... The idea that the theatrical mask extends beyond the actors physically wearing a full or half mask or a clown nose (also considered to be a mask)... I understand this concept in many different ways... For example violence should to be 'masked' on stage, or it makes the audience uncomfortable to watch someone be hit for real... Love should to be masked or the space for play is somehow dropped if there is a real life somewhat ordinary kiss on stage... somehow these things untreated - or unmasked - brings too much reality into theatre.  We are often challenged with questions like... how can you make the whole stage burst into the kiss of all kisses... and become the love of all loves that is not a private intimate moment between two actors...  a moment which works well on TV with the close-up and the swell of music.  Theatre has to go beyond.  Creating a moment that the audience can share in - because they remember that kiss in their own lives.  Theatrical transposition.  How do you do it.  Who knows.  But this is the endeavor of theatre.  Or so it should be.  I think.

So on this point we did our final solo performances to complete our second year of training.  I have said so many times that this or that has changed how I see theatre... and all of it is true... I am learning so much I feel like a sponge with a physical sensation of absorbing all this brilliant stuff... so here I shall say it again... There was a moment in the final solo performance that constitutes some of the most important learnings thus far.  Matteo (our mask teacher of course) described it as with mask making so is your performance a mask... In mask making you have the clay and sometimes while you are making your mask quite unexpectedly another form or another volume arrives from the clay and you have to go in a different direction... you have to go with what the clay wants you to do.  Esoteric.  Maybe.  But true.  You don't know what you have till you start making it.  So, you have to make the mask that emerges and not the one you had planned... even at the risk of destroying what you have done.  How does this relate to performance.  Well... in the solo I was going along with my planned performance and at a turning point in the piece a different 'volume' arrived as Matteo put it... it went from being light and fun and full of energy to something quite tragic and still... the switch arrived quite suddenly but then instead of staying in this newly emerged volume I quickly ended the scene and walked off stage.  Leaving the audience going... huh?  And the thing is - it is not enough.  Making theatre is so hard.  I'm a very good typist... if only I could be happy typing.  But i'm not.  So if you are going to make theatre... you have to push yourself.  The alternative is too depressing.  To make mediocre work... that is almost moving... that is almost good... I'd rather be a typist.  So the lesson in all of this is that sometimes you are going along steadily in your 'vertical' journey as Matteo puts it and then the 'horizontal' plain arrives... and this is the poetic journey... where anything can happen... it is no longer linear...  When the death arrives on stage - what happens then?  A whole world can open up.  Unexpectedly.  Instead of escaping... stay at the risk of failing.  So next time that is what one wants to aim to do... otherwise it's just writing on a blog.

And with that we end our second year at Helikos.  A lone clown on a bare stage.  What a wonderful journey. x

Nicole as 'Penelope'

Vika as 'Clara Nightingale'

Barbara as 'Andromeda Andromeda'

Me as 'Fiona Van der Walt'


  1. AnonymousMay 11, 2012

    Wauw your writing is so beautiful! Here I am in the middle of all the hectic ( :-) ) studying, twisting my brain, thinking that the exams are very important. We ended less than two weeks ago, and yet it feels like another life already. Thank you for reminding me of all the wonders that happened this year in Italy- and for re-remind of what is truly important.


  2. AnonymousMay 11, 2012

    And yet again! To post my comment the computer asks me to write some crypted letters saying : "Please prove you are not a robot". I take is a sign, I will do no more studying today, go out and get physical! :-)


  3. Brilliant... because you are not a Robot! Thanks for your kind comments xx