|2005 Chekhov * Farces
THR221 Intermediate Acting
I can't believe it! You are still here! Are you indeed reading the book? Allright, I won't say a word, it's your life, kid, and this is a free country!
I drive to the campus and I think -- this is act; I drive. But do I act, or re-act? I react to my schedual, road signs, traffic lights, other cars, road conditions, weather, my mood -- is there anything besides "reacting"? I hope not -- the police would call it an accident, the falior to react!
[webster] an essential or inevitable concomitant...
I park my car (I can't just leave it on the street -- reaction to the UAF police and their parking tickets). Even the parking lot is a reaction and the path to the Arts Buiding and the door, the lights, the steps! The stage is a reaction to the house, the seats...
It's time to start my rehearsals. They wait for me -- and I react. I direct them.
I direct The Taming of the Shrew. I react to Shakespeare and my own life with my marriage(s), I react to the news about the internet match-making, react to the kids, my cast, with their love stories, wishes, hopes, pain...
"Get upstage!" I'm yelling. I react to the space, to the set, which they see yet, but I know how it should look like, the designer's reaction to the play, me, the director, our theatre space, our life in America, our lives... How do I do it, the directing? I do not do anything. This is the secret -- do not act (zen), do the minimum. Do nothing. "I don't understand you!" I scream.
I react. There will be a spectator in my seat -- and he won't get the line (I know this line, he doesn't). I react because I am alive, the actors are alive and this is a live show! Reacting is very mechanical. You push something -- and it falls. When you push people, thoughts, emotions -- it's bio-mechanical.
Circumstances [webster]: the sum of essential and environmental factors (as of an event or situation).
If you live, you react. If you don't react, you are dead. Acting is being alive.
Three hours later I get to my car, I walk down the hill, it's dark. No Northern Lights tonight. No reaction. I get the keys (reaction to the car and need to get home). My car reacts to the key (me). Even the stupid machine knows that acting is reacting! We drive, me and the car, the biomechanical unity...
The structure of "BioMX Theory for Actors" was the most difficult task: how to organize the lessons? I keep changing it every time I teach a class. If you are familiar with Method and Stanislavsky, maybe it's better to see what was missing in it, and then you would understand the NEED for a different approach to acting, the way Meyerhold saw it. (Read a short review on Meyerhold to get a historical record of the period).
Stanislavsky believed that we can manipulate our feelings, Meyerhold believed in BodyMachine. Biomechanics (BM) saw actor as a worker and stage set as a maching for acting. Meyerhold was influenced by Taylorism and the concept of the efficient work. In that sense BM is to cut out everything that does not belong to ACT. You can see every movement of actor as a dance of drama...
Let me tell you about the problems I haven't mentioned in the Preface. First, a question. Is it possible to speak about BM without talking about Method?
Meyerhold (M) was very educated. Kabuki, Commedia, Stanislavsky -- is it possible to understand his intentions without "some" knowledge of the history of theatre? Honestly, do they really need Biomechanics or Method, if they want to get a part? Why should you bother to study it, if all what you want is a success through entertainment market? He and Stanislavsky developed their "theories" not for actors to make good living. Is it possible that I missing the point all together?
You see, I have to work on Theatre Theory pages as well (and I will keep them in THR directory). How else can I speak about Acting Theories? And before I know -- I have to go back to the fundamentals of aesthetics (Aristotle and etc.)
It gets more and more complex...
Let them speak, yes, the masters, the two -- Stanislavsky and Meyerhold. Let them answer your questions. After all we are talking about their ideas, not mine!
They are agreed.
Here is a simple table to compare the two techniques:
[I will link the rest later]
projects: BM software
webpages: new BM directory for Spring 2004!
Actingland.com - Acting resources, career guides, and casting information.
So, I skip most of them, because "working" means several rounds. Meaning, that somebody who did his or her homework won't be seen. Great! And I need to review the previous class, I need to introduce the new topics, I need to...
That is why and how how my webpages came into existance. To save the time in class. I have no time for lectures, I need to work with each student in class!
See the applications of BM in my shows: WWWilde (Importance of Being Earnest), 12th Night and next -- Don Juan (Moliere 2003). Mostly for movement and comedy, not the style. Very difficult (impossible) to introduce BM, while rehearsing the show. It's even difficult in class! One reason (I spoke about it before), the true need for BM begins only if you know Method and its limitations. Second, the training: not just the knowledge, but exercises! Maybe it should be taught under strickly "movement classes"? Third, the real use of BM is connected with the concrete stage situations; therefore actors and directors must have workable knowledge of BM.
Also, the terminology! I listed some major definitions in Glossary, but it's not enough -- each new idea needs its own page. For example "Mass of the Event" (I took it from the filmmaking theory) -- how does movement create it? Well, we need to talk about space and time, if we mentioned MOVEMENT. It's not the same as "Depth of the Event"... And what is this STAGE EVENT to start with?
Too much theory...
So, often I find myself simply screaming -- Bigger!
One example (from Dangerous Liaisons), the Valmont's first entrance. We already had the dramatic exposition (the women gossiped about him), now is the time to do visual. Brain, do you know any opera aria? Figaro? Fine (was written later, but who cares at the moment). Start singing it off stage, please.
We do it. Better, but still is not big enough. The appearence of the servant to announce Valmont helps, too. And the reaction of ladies to singing helps. Brian, please, bring your hat and throw it back to the servant, without looking. Two of you, rehearse it later. And, Brian, please dance your way to the table, before kissing hands...
How can I enlarge the mass of the event further?
All right, think about the end, when Valmont dies -- can I borrow something from there for the beginning?
VOICE. I like this kid...
I looked around but didn't see anybody. And it was said in Russian, mind you! I guess, I'm tired...
VOICE. Ask him to go around before he get to the ladies. Let him to have the whole stage. You must establish that Valmont is playing Valmont. Understand?
I understand, but I didn't understand where this voice is coiming from. What the hell is that!
- I understand, I said in Russian, too.
VOICE. Good. Asked the women look at each other, when they hear the voice. First, in his direction, then -- at each other, and again in the direction of the voice, stage right. Who is the boy, who plays the servant?
- Who are you? I asked.
VOICE. Who do you think I am? You talking about me and you think I can keep my silence? No way! No, Anatoly, I've been watching you, don't you know? Guess!
I didn't have to, Master was standing behind the curtain, stage left....
An online course supplement *
2005-2006 Theatre UAF Season: Four Farces + One Funeral & Godot'06
Film-North * Anatoly Antohin * eCitations *