After carrying out research on our chosen practitioners we were expected to carry out a workshop focusing on one of their influential techniques which we could apply to performance or rehearsals.
The first person to share their presentation was Leah Smith who was exploring the Physicalisation of a script using Metamorphosis as the stimulus. The thinking behind his technique was that the movement of an actor is just as important or more so than the script and dialogue itself as a company should be able to express the key moments of story and characters through the physicalisation. The script we were given was padded with very in depth descriptions of the ways the characters were expected to move and how the overall staging of the movement would be. For example it clearly describes how the company must create a life size bug or insect out of the remaining bodies to physicalise the visions of this metamorphis. The dialogue in the script was generally on one level, which suggested the expression and deeper layers of emotion or meaning were perhaps meant to be expressed through the physicality of these stock like characters. Leah split us into groups and we were set the challenge of physicalising and exploring the delivery of the first page of script. I found the exercise interesting to do, as personally I usually struggle more with physicality than I do vocal work. Interestingly I think I actually gained more from watching the other groups attempts and angles on how to deliver the script physically, as it became easier to see how it did or didn’t add to the piece. For example, in some groups they decided to assign all the dialogue to 2 actors who took on the part of all the characters speech, while the rest of the free bodies physically created the action being described. While visually this worked, I think it kind of took away from the style of metamorphis and the idea that while physicality is supposed to be the most important aspect (according to this technique), it shouldn’t be at the expense of what the script actually instructs, such as having different named characters listed in the text for a reason. Perhaps instead the group would have benefited from having the whole group physicalise the movements and as each of the named characters had a piece of written dialogue, they could somehow exit or separate them selves from the company movement, in turn, to deliver their lines. I think this would create a real ensemble like feel and keep physicality at the forefront and actually using the script to help you create and support the devising of movement rather than let it get in the way of distracting from the story.
While I really enjoyed Leah’s exercise and was able to extract some important ideas from it, I think that she could have been slightly clearer with the reasons to why this was believed and how actors would successfully use this. As I kind of felt like the purpose and specificity got a little lost in the activity and so some of us might have simply taking the script and doing what it told us to rather than exploring technique completely.
The next workshop we participated in was exploring Stanislavsky’s circumastances.
We were each given a line of dialogue and a setting for a potential scene which we were challenged to incorporate into a short scene of improvisation. The idea of this was to use our dialogue to somehow create the setting of this particular place and clearly demonstrate this to the audience, whilst still including the phrase given to us into the dialogue so it would flow like a genuine natural scene. The setting given to my group was ‘the forest’ so we portrayed it by mentioning wodds like ‘trees’, ‘walking’, ‘nature’, ‘pathways’, ‘route’, in order to create the illusion of the scene taking place here. It was interesting to see how as soon as subtle hints are used in the dialogue, through key vocabulary, it immediately made the audience aware of where it was set and what was happening. I think I would have benefited from the workshop better if James linked the exercise we took part in back to the practitioner and technique itself as I was slightly confused on its purpose and how it all tied together.