Hannah lead a workshop exploring the practitioner Augusto Boal, in particularly a technique from his book, ‘Games for Actors and Non Actors’, called: Feeling What We Touch. Boal wrote that these exercises are written in because in everyday life a person’s “senses suffer” (Boal, 1992, page 61) and these exercises help get back into these senses. The idea of the technique was to focus on the senses with the aim to be able to keep control of our own bodies, which is always important when acting.
Hannah wanted to make it more challenging and therefore take away one of the senses – the ability to see. She chose four different exercises from ‘The Blind Series’ (1992, page 106) which focus on making the actor think about what they smell, touch and hear.
1: Noises: Getting into pairs, one is blindfolded and the other will be a guide who will make an animal sound that the other person must focus on. From a different point in the room, that person will make a noise and the blindfolded person has to follow it, only moving when they hear a noise, meaning they have to stop when the noise stops. They will have to really concentrate though as all groups will be doing this at the same time (1992, page 107).
2: Smell of Hands: One is blindfolded and the rest get in a line. The blindfolded person will smell each hand across the line and will ask what their name is. Once they have done this the others will move and mess up the order, the aim is for the blindfolded person to know who is who based on the smell of their hand (1992, page 112).
3: Draw Your Own Body: Each person lays down, thinking about all of their body parts with their eyes closed or blindfolded, after a while, they will be asked to draw their body while their eyes are still closed. After gathering all the pictures, they will be asked what they find most interesting about each drawing and they will be asked to identify their piece of paper (1992, page 113).
4: Touch: This exercise also involves the hand, after getting into pairs, they have to touch their partners hand. They will then have to walk around the room blindfolded and separately, after 30 seconds they have to find their partner just by touching their hand, this may involve touching other hands (1992, page 114).
Hannah introduced us all to Augusto Boal’s “Blind Senses” and his exercise ‘noises’, which involved us getting into pairs (one blindfolded) and then find each other by making an animal sound. She explained the necessity of listening as an actor; it is needed in order to react to lines and sounds on stage and also know cues of when to enter or deliver a line, and if this doesn’t happen, the show would be affected. Overall, the idea of the exercise was relevant and had the potential to be very helpful as it will make everyone taking part more wary of what they have to listen to. Obviously the idea of the technique is to have a larger group of people taking part, so that there are a mixture of noises around the room, thus requiring full concentration and focus on each sound without distraction. However, I found it really difficult working in such a small space whilst doing this exercise as it was inevitable where your partner would be and so took away the necessity of relying solely on that sense. Yet, I also felt like the small space ensured I was fully alert and cautious of my surroundings so not to injure anyone else in the room partaking in the exercise.
While this isn’t something I feel I could add into my individual monologue work or practice on my own, it is something that actors need to be aware of when part of a company or when working alongside other actors in performance. In my experience there have been countless times where someone has missed a cue to come on stage during rehearsal or not heard their cue line accurately because they were not listening properly, and this always slows down the pace of rehearsals or performance. Notably, if the company put the ‘Noises’ exercise into practice during rehearsal it would help the actors hone and develop their listening skills so in the future they will be more used to picking out individual sounds and react to these confidently.