* stagematrix.com :
|I need to give a good thought about what I do not have in BM directory, but what should be in here!
An actor is only merchandise. ~ Chow Yun-Fat
I separate Method and Biomechanics only to give the credit to two Masters, although from the current stage of theatre experience they both are like two hands of the same intellectectual body. In his "Method of Physical Action" came very close to what his student Meyerhold was preaching in Biomechanics. The emotions must be expressed -- be active, able to be acted out (Read Mikhail Chekhov on "Inner Gesture").
If Meyerhold wasn't interested in "emotional" development of the character, it's rather understanable since Stanislavsky was developing this school of acting. Unless we are interested in theatre history, Formalism and Realism for us to use, not debate. I leave behind the aesthetics and call you to take the "software" of the two directors!
Bye Biomechanics! Hello StageMetrics! Or Matrix. Fundamentals of Directing
I hope you know how to count. The math is simple. You have tweenty fingers, the years you can something. You have ten on your hands -- the time your body can do it. Write it in your journals, the deadlines. You missed it -- and this is forever! Do it now, do ir before it's too late. I saw so many who were late. I saw myself missing the train.
Stanislavsky & Meyerhold: "In terms of Stanislavski's approach to theatre, it is more accurate to recognize that he represents the culmination of an era, not a beginning. The Moscow Art Theatre brought to a climax the nineteenth century movement toward greater naturalism in theatre. Meyerhold, in contrast, represents the beginning of the move toward an expressionist theatre that flowered in the beginning of the twentieth century."
sad NotesI don't understand why directed by the camera, actors can't use Meyerhold's techniques ...
2004 & After
-- When actors go onstage, you know immediately if they can do their job. You can be a lawyer or an accountant for years and not find out. Patsy Rodenburg
Michael Caine: 'Cinema and television have got rid of some of the more extreme forms of ignorance, but then a lot of people used to say to me, 'Oh, when I was your age, I wanted to be an actor', and I'd say, 'No you didn't. You probably wanted to be rich and famous, but you didn't want to be an actor - otherwise you'd have done it.' [ Guardian 2.8.97 ]
UAF Students! Please go to: http://classes.uaf.edu + Log in to Blackboard, choose "THR 190 / Auditions and Portfolio Review" and complete the online Outcomes Assessment form under the "Assignment" tab.
2005: The purpose of my online production books was to assist myself, cast and crew during pre-production and rehearsal periods. After the show is over I use webpages for my classes: directing, acting, drama.
Script Analysis Actor:
Theatre Books Master Page *
"Only an actor who has a good sense of the soil, who has a good sense of space in the dark, can be a good actor," he says. "Space is not only something you see with your eyes -- you sense it, touch it, smell it. Maybe one of the main purposes of the performing arts is to put on display people who have this heightened balance of the senses."
"The world surrounding us is filled with religious conflicts, wars and economic problems," he notes. "In my productions I want to give people hope, but I can't give fraudulent hope. That would be cheap. I must do it in some real way. I must show what is wrong with us and then struggle with it. Only in religion do we begin with the notion that hope exists. The goal of the performing arts is to ***discover*** hope." (Moscow Theatre Olympic, 2001, The Moscow Times by John Freedman)
"The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of a nation, is close to the center of a nation's purpose - and is a test of the quality of a nation's civilization" ~ John F. Kennedy
BM lives! This is the end of our travels in BM land. Of you can see it a beginning of your own journey. Contrary to the popular belief, Acting is a lonely profession, like everything in Arts. You never leave your homeland -- yourself. You have to feel at home in your nation; you have to know yourself. You have to discover yourself -- and then there is a chance that the world will discover you.stanislavsky.us
There are many ways to discover yourself --BM is one of them.
Unlike working out, you work on your body in time and space. You make this time-space around you -- YOURS. You the empty space VISIBLE.
If you can make me see "our time together" -- you are an actor.
If you can make the space work for you, you are a master.
You have the body and the mechanics of the world -- the rest is easy. Move it!
Biomechanics are not for everyone. For the living only!
Biomechanics for Method Actors? I was kidding -- how can you know Method without Biomechanics?
P.S."There are no formulas... on how to become a great actor, or how to play this or that part... With strong desire, if you work, if you come to know your own nature, and discipline it, then... you will become a true artist." - Konstantin StanislavskyTake it easy. It's only a theory. You study it, you try to understand, you practice it, getting it into your blood -- in order not to remember! You have to be ready to FORGET.METHOD ACTING for DIRECTORS? method.vtheatre.net
If you're thinking about it on stage, you didn't get it!
You have to live on stage as your character with his thinking! And not the thoughts about Biomechanics, blocking or lines.
This book is for your homework; before and after the show.
I want actors to think as actors. Not only to see the world through the Mind of Theatre, but to have "actor's brains"! Not the normal understanding of space and time, but the Actor's Time & Space.
A musician sees the universe in sounds, an artist in colors and shapes; you have to see life as acting and performing miracle. Mimesis, remember? You have to have actor's imagination to notice "your" things, to collect them like writer collects words and phases. "Steal!" I say to my students. Thewre is no copyright on gestures and poses. Be hungry, be aggressive in your search for material. You have to feed your character, you have to give him LIFE.
See Tests Page and other Acting pages with the tests for classes.
Read StageMatrix and we will talk about Virtual Theatre and Spectator's Theory!
Time to move to Method.... How?
From my email exchanges:
... looks like I am to travel to Moscow (second time, since I left Russia in 1980) -- and on invitation of the Moscow Art Theatre; Smelyansky, the head of MXAT School now, wants to establish the MFA in directing International style (in English, when the credits could be transfer even, if students do not gradute -- we have it here, in US). They try to bridge Stanislavsky and Meyerhold -- something I do in my classes. At last! Lee Strasberg's "Method" comes from "teaching acting" -- unlike the System, when practicing actor (and director) Stanislavsky wanted actors to have a way of self-directing. Basically, to do the homework and not to come to rehearsals blank, waiting for directions. Anatoly
NB. Is it true that BM take away the mystery of acting? Good, if it does it; I have more room for new, deeper mysteries of theatre. BM is nothing but craft; the knowledge that becomes habitual. Do you remember how you learned to walk? Or talk? Or ride a bike? Did the numerous learnt skills take about the mystery of living? Or maybe they enriched you? What do you think?... Yes, I know, I have to have two levels of BM (at least), but this is for the later day...
Bookmark vTheatre! amazon.com * Pre-publication version of a review to be published in the Moscow Times Oct. 3, 2003. Any and all quotations of, or references to, this article must cite John Freedman. (c) 2003 John Freedman. The final version will be available with accompanying photo on Friday in the Metropolis section at www.themoscowtimes.com or www.tmtmetropolis.ru
"Oedipus" at the Meyerhold Center is less a performance than a study of what a performance might be.
This is no esoteric observation, but rather a simple description of what "Oedipus" is - a student production in which a group of future directors joins a group of actors on stage to offer an abbreviated version of Sophocles' "Oedipus Rex" with some excerpts from Samuel Beckett's dramas "Quad" and "What Where" tacked onto the end. All of this is overseen by the director and teacher Alexei Levinsky, arguably Russia's finest interpreter of Beckett's drama and certainly one of Moscow's most unique acting and directing talents. (He does not act in this show.)
One key aspect of "Oedipus" is the attempt to reincorporate into the living theatrical process the system of coordination and body control that is called biomechanics and was developed by the innovative director Vsevolod Meyerhold in the early decades of the last century. Much has been written about biomechanics, but, for the most part, it has remained more an intellectual pursuit than a practical application.
Meyerhold employed highly stylized gestures and movements in some of his most important productions from the early 1900s to the 1930s. In the 1920s, some now-legendary film clips were made of actors demonstrating the basic elements of movement that Meyerhold was developing under the name of biomechanics. They included segments of actors running, jumping and throwing. One memorable segment depicts an actor leaping on another's chest before stabbing him. This famous image in motion, as reenacted by two of Levinsky's actors, plays a central role in the telling of the tale of Oedipus, who murdered his father unwittingly before marrying his mother. However, the attempt here is not merely to graft a few stray images of Meyerhold's experiments onto a modern show, but rather to use and expand them in a way that has purpose and meaning.
It is as though Levinsky has separated the two key elements of theater from one another, for most of the time words and actions are relegated to separate segments of the performance. The exercises evolving from biomechanics -- short, wordless interludes of actors doing battle or interacting with props or people -- serve as connectors between the scenes of Sophocles' play. Cut back to a minimum, the segments of the play used by Levinsky narrate only the events leading directly to Oedipus' downfall - his answering the riddle of the Sphinx, his becoming the King of Thebes and his demise when he learns that a traveler he killed on the road was his father and that the woman he has married is his mother.
Levinsky and his actors make no effort to develop plot, to color in the shadings of the story or to provide psychological motivations. They assume the story is familiar and assume that it means something to an audience without the aid of elaborations or explanations. They offer the key structural elements of the myth, its most basic outline, and move on from there to explore various methods of telling the tale. This, then, is an experiment in methods and means, rather than an attempt to arrive successfully at an end.
The action begins with a wordless prologue that acts as a metaphor for what follows. One by one, actors traverse the square stage in tight, geometrical patterns, skirting the obstacle of a hole in the middle and sharply cutting and turning to avoid each other when there is more than one person on stage. The repetition of the scene - silent actors almost stubbornly walking up to the hole, turning to skirt it and turning to regain their path once they have passed it - takes on significance in time: No path is without obstacle and all obstacles lend shape and, ultimately, meaning to any endeavor.
The form of this introduction is dictated by Nikolai Roshchin's set, a white square with a square hole in the middle. Around the perimeter of the stage -- "backstage," so to speak, but clearly visible to the spectators -- stand rows of chairs on which the actors sit, resting and observing when they are not working. For the spoken scenes, simple costumes are generally in grays, while during the wordless action scenes, classical masks are often worn over faces.
The performance strives for simplicity and economy at all times. There is nothing superfluous either in the props, the text or the action. A rope, for instance, appears relatively early on, but it clearly foreshadows one of the key turns of the Oedipus story, when Jocasta - his mother and his wife - hangs herself in despair. The rope is also used to help an actor imitate the act of balancing on a tight wire - still another metaphorical suggestion of the danger and risk lurking in the shadows of the seemingly happy and stable union that binds Oedipus (Ivan Volkov) and Jocasta (Vera Voronkova). A life that seems so secure and assured is actually teetering on the verge of catastrophe.
Other simple objects such as sticks, balls and lipstick play less important roles, but are used in the same laconic way. The tossing and juggling of the sticks and balls allow the actors to expand on the canonical biomechanics motions and gestures and develop them into something new. Seldom are actions intended blatantly to illustrate the significance of a scene; suggestion is always the purpose. In fact, we never see Jocasta hang herself, but rather see her performing as a combatant's shadow and dying from the wound he suffers when a knife is plunged into his breast.
The excerpts from Beckett form a brief, apocalyptic charade that runs in tight circles. A man instructs another to punish a third for failing to coerce a fourth to confess to something. But with each failed attempt at punishing someone into confession, the man doing the punishing is condemned to punishment himself. The cycle comes to a halt when the man ordering the punishment must condemn himself to punishment for failing to achieve any confessions.
If the insertion of this piece seems a non sequitur at first, by the time it reaches its end, it has become something of a commentary on the Oedipus tale. The eternal ignorance of the characters leads them on a repetitive journey from which, to borrow Jean-Paul Sartre's phrase, there is no exit. Oedipus, too, was locked into repeating errors and sins until he, as a classical hero, acquires the knowledge that allows him to escape ignorance. The irony, of course, is that this knowledge leads almost immediately to a calamity for almost everyone involved.
But "Oedipus" is not of interest so much for interpreting the tale's meaning, as it is for seeking new ways to bring the actual process of narrative to life.
***"Oedipus" (Edip) plays Tues. at 7 p.m. at the Meyerhold Center, 23 Novoslobodskaya Ulitsa. Metro Novoslobodskaya. Tel. 363-1048. Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.***
An online course supplement *
2005-2006 Theatre UAF Season: Four Farces + One Funeral & Godot'06
Film-North * Anatoly Antohin * eCitations *